By Lisa Marie Griffith
I was in a book club a few years ago (that regrettably died) and one of the books we read was Raymond Chandler’s, The Big Sleep. Written in 1939 the book introduced the Private Detective Philip Marlowe, surely the coolest fictional private eye. The book begins when Marlowe is hired to uncover a blackmail plot against General Sternwood, a wealthy but very elderly man with two beautiful precocious daughters. The eldest daughter was married to an ex-IRA leader who had left Ireland in the 1920s. I was surprised and delighted to discover while home that Christmas that Raymond Chandler (b. 1888 d.1959) had spent some time in Waterford city during his childhood. The above is a plaque from outside the house which is located behind Christ Church Cathedral, in Cathedral square. Chandler’s father and brother ran a legal practice in the city and when Chandler’s father (Maurice) emigrated, his brother (Ernest) stayed in Waterford. Chandler was actually born in Chicago on 23 July 1888. When his father died his uncle became an important benefactor for him and Raymond spend many summers in Waterford. Chandler does not seem to have warmed much to his Waterford family, however, and he seems to have found his uncle’s house rather cold. He preferred English society and retreated there when possible. Nevertheless, the stories which he heard in Ireland his connection to the country must have prompted the creation of some of his characters. There is a longer article on Chandler and Waterford in the local Waterford newspaper, the Munster Express.