Biography of The Year Shortlist Discover the best books of the year. Click the plus button to find out more information about each book and author. Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Séamas O’Reilly was crowned the winner. Belonging: A Memoir of Place, Beginnings and One Woman's Search for Truth and Justice for the Tuam Babies by Catherine Corless with Naomi Linehan Book Profile Catherine Corless could not have known where her interest in local history would lead her, as she began researching the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Galway in 2010. Uncovering no less than 796 missing burial records of children born there, the stark truth of their place of rest became clear: a disused sewage tank on the old home site, where two boys had once stumbled upon bones. But who were these lost children, and what had happened to them in the care of the Bons Secours order of nuns? Determined to know more, Catherine's painstaking research led to a quest for justice that continues still as, often against fierce resistance, she brought to light a terrible truth that shocked the world, impacted the Vatican, and led to a Commission of Investigation in Ireland. Part memoir, part detective story, Belonging is both a personal account - of identity, beginnings and Catherine's search for her own mother's lost story - and a recounting of her forensic crusade on behalf of the lost babies of Tuam. It speaks to the tender love of a mother and her child; to the unforgettable screams which echoed through the corridors as babies were taken against the parent's will; and to a mystery which continues to this day, as so many still search to know where, and to whom, they belong. Author Profile Catherine Corless is married to Aidan, and they have four children, Adrienne, Alan, Alicia and Aaron, and nine grandchildren. Her quiet, secluded life – rearing a family, farming, gardening, and enjoying her pastimes of art, crafts and family history research – changed drastically in 2014, after some research she had done into the Bons Secours Mother and Baby Home at Tuam was picked up by media and exposed worldwide. Her research revealed the harshness, cruelty and discrimination of the mothers who gave birth there, and their offspring. It also revealed the terrible secret of 800 babies who had died at the Home from 1925-1961, whose remains had been laid in a defunct sewage tank. Resulting from this revelation, the Irish government was pressurised. Gas Man by Colin Black Book Profile 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… That’s about as far as you get, counting backwards, as you wait for surgery to begin – and that’s all most people know about what I do. But what happens between you conking out and waking up? And what does the anaesthetist have to do with it all? Do they just sit around playing sudoku while the rest of the team do all the hard work? And why are they so obsessed with what time you ate dinner? Join Colin Black on his journey from accidental medical student to HSE and NHS trainee and, finally, Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist at the largest children’s hospital in Ireland, where any given day could end in laughter or tears – and that’s just the staff. Razor-sharp and forthright, Gas Man is a disarming and frequently hilarious account of life in one of the most fascinating and thrilling professions at medicine’s frontline, where every day is a heady cocktail of severe pressure, poignancy, and profound social awkwardness. Author Profile Dr Colin Black was born in Derry City but has lived in Dublin since the age of 3, so has long since traded his calming north-western lilt for a posh South Dublin accent. Colin is a Consultant Paediatric Anaesthesiologist with a special interest in anaesthesia for congenital heart disease, and has worked in hospitals across Ireland, following a period of 'finding himself’ in Australia. His anaesthesia finishing school was the esteemed Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in central London. Now based at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, Colin lives in Dublin with his wife, who also happens to be a surgeon, and their young daughter, whom they hope does not become a doctor too. Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Seamas O'Reilly Book Profile A heartwarming and hilarious family memoir of growing up as one of eleven siblings raised by a single dad in Northern Ireland at the end of the Troubles. After the untimely death of his mother, five-year old Seamas and his ten (TEN!) siblings were left to the care of their loving but understandably beleaguered father. In this thoroughly delightful memoir, we follow Seamas and the rest of his rowdy clan as they learn to cook, clean, do the laundry, and struggle (often hilariously) to keep the household running smoothly and turn into adults in the absence of the woman who had held them together. Along the way, we see Seamas through various adventures: There's the time the family's windows were blown out by an IRA bomb; the time a priest blessed their thirteen-seater caravan before they took off for a holiday on which they narrowly escaped death; the time Seamas worked as a guide in a leprechaun museum during the recession; and of course, the time he inadvertently found himself on ketamine while serving drinks to the President of Ireland. Through it all, the lovable, ginger-haired Seamas regales us with his combination of wit, absurdity, and tenderness, creating a charming and unforgettable portrait of an oddly gigantic family's search for some semblance of normalcy. Author Profile Seamas O’Reilly is a columnist for the Observer and writes about media and politics for the Irish Times, New Statesman, Guts and VICE. He shot to a kind-of prominence with a range of online endeavours including ‘Remembering Ireland’, a parody of Irish nostalgia sites, which featured entirely invented moments from Irish history. In 2016, he posted a long Twitter thread about the effects Brexit would have on Northern Ireland, which led to his first political writing for the New Statesman. Later on that year, his exasperated reviews of the novels of erstwhile footballer and manager Steve Bruce led to his participation in events with Guardian Football Weekly and various others. His most recent viral sensation was a thread about the time he inadvertently. Openhearted by Ann Ingle Book Profile At 20 Londoner Ann Ingle fell madly in love with an Irish fellow she met on holiday in Cornwall. At the church to arrange their shotgun wedding she discovered that he hadn't even told her his real name. Sixty-odd years later Ann looks back on that first glorious fall and in a series of essays considers what she has learned from the life that followed - bringing eight children into the world, their father's years of mental illness and tragic death at 40, being a cash-strapped single mother in 1980s Dublin, coming into her own in her middle years - going to college, working and writing, and continuing to evolve and learn into her ninth decade, even as she accepts the realities of being 'old'. Candid about everything that matters - love, sex, heartbreak, money, class, religion, mental health, rearing children (and letting them go), reading and writing, ageing - Openhearted is a compelling story about living life in a spirit of curiosity and delight and with a willingness to look for good in others. Author Profile Originally from London, Ann Ingle has lived in Dublin since the 1960s and is a mother of eight. In 2018, she co-wrote Driven, the memoir of motorsport legend Rosemary Smith, which was shortlisted for an Irish Book Award. Her memoir Openhearted was published by Sandycove in 2021. Rememberings by Sinead O'Connor Book Profile Sinéad O'Connor's voice and trademark shaved head made her famous by the age of twenty-one. Her landmark recording of Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U made her a global icon. She outraged millions when she tore up a photograph of Pope John Paul II on American television. Unapologetic and impossible to ignore, she called out hypocrisy wherever she saw it, and has done so for three decades. Now, in Rememberings, O'Connor tells her story - the heartache of growing up in a family falling apart; her early forays into the Dublin music scene; her adventures and misadventures in the world of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll; the fulfilment of being a mother; her ongoing spiritual quest - and through it all, her abiding passion for music. Rememberings is intimate, replete with candid anecdotes and full of hard-won insights. It is a unique and remarkable chronicle by a unique and remarkable artist. Author Profile Sinéad O'Connor is an Irish singer-songwriter and recording artist. She rose to international fame in 1990 with her arrangement of Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U, and her critically-acclaimed albums have won or been nominated for five Grammys. She lives in Wicklow. Boy 11963 : An Irish Industrial School Childhood and an Extraordinary Search for Home by John Cameron with Kathryn Rogers Book Profile At only five months old, John Cameron was abandoned in a Dublin orphanage, and fostered out as a child labourer by age three. In 1944 when he turned eight, he was incarcerated in Artane Industrial School, where he became boy 11963. Now in his mid-eighties, he tells his shocking but inspirational story for the first time. As a child, reduced to a number, he survived savage assaults, sexual abuse and the tragic deaths of children around him. Along with other forgotten boys, he battled for his life against the heartless adversity of the church and the Irish state. As a young man - a much-loved teacher devoted to his growing family - John was haunted by his unknown past and embarked on a lifelong quest to unravel the truth about his origins. Buried in a labyrinth of lies, he finally uncovered a story of forbidden love and passion that scandalised rural Ireland and made national headlines in the 1930s. Author Profile John Cameron overcame tragic beginnings to become a respected school teacher, working for over thirty-five years in West Dublin. Now 85, he lives at home in Gorey with his wife of 58 years, Treasa. He has five grown-up children and five grandchildren and likes nothing more than having the family sitting around the kitchen table. Having developed Parkinson’s Disease with Lewy body dementia in recent years, John lives a quiet but contented life. He enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, tinkering in his work shed, and volunteering his woodworking and crafting expertise in the local Men’s Sheds Association. Boy 11963, the story of John’s early life and his search for his origins, is his first book.