Who Do I Think I Am? Having read Homan’s memoir I am not sure I can answer his question but I can say what a rollicking good story it makes.
The book takes up the story of his life where his childhood memoir, Rathcormick, left off. It starts gently, describing his growing appreciation of art, his travels and his education; his metamorphosis from Co Meath farmer’s boy to, aged only thirty-three, Director of The National Gallery of Ireland. This is where his book really comes alive.
It is a book where no name goes undropped. My childhood friend from Co Louth, Clare O’Reilly, rubs shoulders with Diana Vreeland and Jackie Onassis. Homan plays with a double murderer in a farmyard in Co Meath. His encounters with the great and good and more raffish and disreputable elements are recorded with a wry sense of humour. There are some splendid set pieces: his struggles with the Irish government, encounters with Prime Minister Charles Haughey, even his struggles with the archaic telephone system at the gallery: his delicate negotiations with Sir Alfred and Lady Beit to get their pictures for the gallery and his subsequent negotiations to get them back again after they had been stolen (for the second time) by the IRA.
If you are interested in a spirited, gossipy evocation of Ireland in the 1980s then give yourself an early Christmas present. The book ends when he resigns his post in 1988. I look forward to the continuation in due course when a little more of the private Homan may be revealed and we may be better able to answer his question, Who Do I Think I Am?