Review | Dublin Seven by Frankie Gaffney

Dublin Seven, the debut novel from author Frankie Gaffney, presents the reader with an interpretation of not only Dublin City but of the people who course through its veins. At the heart of this story is Shane, a directionless teenager and recreational drug user. A chance encounter with Griffo, an inner city drug dealer, leads Shane into the shadowy world of dealing. As his network of customers grows so does his paranoia and Shane soon finds his life spiralling out of control.

Dublin-Seven-Website-OnlyDublin Seven is an enjoyable read. Moving with a natural fluidity, some of Gaffney’s writing is truly beautiful, but the highest praise must rest with his humorous and well-realised dialogue. Certain passages read so vividly that you feel this work must be inspired as much by real life as it is by creative verve; other passages feel as if they would fit perfectly into the lyrics of a Damien Dempsey song. His pitch perfect dialogue is easily the best part of this novel and you can tell that Gaffney has spent great amounts of time trying to capture the mood and tone of Northside inner city Dublin – the voices of his characters are very real. Yet this can, at times, be distracting as the style of the narrative voice often clashes with the voice of his characters and though the disparity between both dialogue and narration is striking, it does not necessarily take from the pleasure of unfurling this tale.

While praising Gaffney for capturing the inner city Dublin beats and tones, it should be noted that some of his characters are not well rounded. In fact, Shane Laochra (Gaelic for legend or warrior) is the best realised of them all. In truth, Gaffney seems only concerned with Shane and often surrounds him with one dimensional, under developed characters. Shane’s girlfriend, Elizabeth, seems to have no real purpose other than to satisfy his sexual needs. His parents and sister are poorly sketched and often slip into melodrama. Some of the thugs he associates with, Robbie Boyle and Paddy Lawless, come across as mere caricatures of gangland life. If more time had been spent fleshing them out then Dublin Seven could have read as much more of a gritty, urban novel. If Shane and Griffo are cut from the Love/Hate cloth, his parents, Elizabeth and some of the supporting characters seem straight out of Fair City.

[pullquote] Shane and Griffo are cut from the Love/Hate cloth [/pullquote] Despite this Dublin Seven is an enjoyable read and Gaffney paces his story to perfection. It does not drag at any stage nor does he glance over or rush through key plot points. As the story unfurls so does Shane and watching as his character moves through the drug underworld is engaging and often scary. Gaffney punctuates the novel with brutal violence, but wisely he uses it sparingly. These Goodfellas-esque bursts of bloodshed are quite effective, unnerving the reader. Gaffney has written a rites of passage tale, of a boy becoming a man and there is a lot of fun to be had in watching him grow, yet Gaffney never lets the reader forget that Shane is a drug dealer, moving in dark circles and the sudden bursts of violence or sexual encounters hits the reader hard, reminding them that Shane is playing with fire. He is the central figure of this story, our hero, but in the eyes of society he is the villain and this is a fine line that Gaffney tries to negotiate, more often than not successfully.


Dublin Seven deserves to be read and deserves to be enjoyed. It might not be a novel you will love, but it most certainly is not one you will hate.

  • Dublin Seven, written by Frankie Gaffney (Liberties Press, €13.99). A copy can be ordered here.


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