This review of Lord of the Rams originally appeared in January 2009 on The Stoneybatter Files website.
Ronan Smith relates the mishaps and adventures of growing up in Munterconnaught - a place that I presumed was fictional because the name sounded so ridiculous and I couldn't find it on any map. A Cavan man informed me however it is very real. You couldn't doubt the reality of the events depicted in this saga either. It's all related in the third person, a mock-heroic account of the minutiae of play-school, school, and first shaky steps in a nightclub. I gave the loan of the book to the same Cavan man, and it was the third book he ever read in his life. I don't have a copy to give a taste of the style, but I recall well the tales of teachers driven to distraction, an attack on the school bus, the dog that ate shite, the first time getting drunk. It's a cross between St. Augustine and the garrulous man-at-the-bar. You will instantly recognise the tone, you've heard it somewhere.
The book is an antidote to all those biographies of ex-Big Brother stars who are puffed up with confidence that every detail of their lives is fascinating. Well, The Rams is not puffed-up: he knows that every detail is fascinating and the reader - if in the right mood - will agree. It's a good book to dip into. You'll find yourself reading parts aloud for anyone in hearing distance.
"Gods make their own importance," wrote Patrick Kavanagh, who lived not a million miles from Cavan. But Ronan Smith is more modest. He makes no claim to be a god, just a lord ... The Lord of the Rams.
Aiden O'Reilly is a Dublin-based writer. His website, The Stoneybatter Files (www.aidenoreilly.com), features a number of his published short stories.