Based between Massachusetts and Galway, Molly has recently published non-fiction with The Celestial Realm exploring mental illness and maternal lineage.
Molly Hennigan is from Kildare and is currently based between Massachusetts, (where she is completing her PhD in English) and Galway. Having grown up visiting her grandmother in various psychiatric hospitals she began to write about the visits initially as a way of processing the experience. So many of her formative expectations about the social contract were not met in the spaces that her grandmother lived. What were initially notes of her own became a record of the chasm between what her grandmother, and other patients, deserved and what they were getting.
Her first book The Celestial Realm was published by Eriu, Bonnier in August 2023
Tracing the organic path of her grandmother’s experience to her great-grandmother’s time in Grangegorman Mental Hospital, she is interested in learning from her own family trauma and using these lessons to cultivate an instinctive response to modes of institutionalisation that we still bear witness to today. This attempt to pursue an intuitive critique extends beyond issues of psychiatric incarceration to subjects including Irish identity, nationhood, borders, and the climate crisis, thinking imaginatively about what the future might look like.
Praise for The Celestial Realm
''In The Celestial Realm Molly Hennigan excavates family and social history in electrically eloquent prose, finding profound insight and flashes of grounding humour in even the most potentially overwhelming, dark material. A defiant, deeply powerful book”
Colin Barrett ― author of Young Skins and Homesickness
“Molly Hennigan brings original and raw perspective to subjects that have fascinated and bewildered readers for centuries - family, legacy and love”
Sara Baume ― author of Seven Steeples
“It is written with wisdom and fearlessness, it is lyrical and compassionate, and reminds me of Annie Ernaux in its clarity and intelligence. It is a sincerely important work for Ireland right now”
Niamh Campbell ― author of This Happy and We Were Young
“A tender, clear-eyed sketch of the connective tissue that binds women across generations”
Doireann Ní Ghríofa ― author of A Ghost in the Throat