All of us at The O’Brien Press were saddened to learn of the death of author Gerry Hunt on Friday 29 June 2018.
Gerry was an architect who worked with the IDA for eighteen years. He took early retirement in 1986 to give more time to his beloved drawing. His first, self-produced, comic was a rhyming, Spanish-language work that he gave away to friends. In 2003 he created a short series of inner-city Dublin fables told in rhyme called In Dublin City, followed by his crime graphic novel, Streets of Dublin; Streets of Dublin was later included in an exhibition entitled ‘Artist’s Books’ in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
The first book that Gerry published with The O’Brien Press was his landmark graphic novel, Blood Upon The Rose: Easter 1916 – The Rebellion That Set Ireland Free. Gerry’s skills and heritage shone through his graphic art and his ground-breaking historical graphic novel brought the Easter Rising vividly to life in words and pictures. It was followed by the graphic novels 1913: Larkin’s Labour War (about the 1913 lockout), At War With The Empire: Ireland’s Fight for Independence (about the Irish War of Independence) and Bobby Sands: Freedom Fighter (the life story of hunger striker Bobby Sands).Gerry’s books were a labour of love, and in this spirit, he donated all his royalties to Smile Train, a charity for children born with cleft lip and palate, and to St Vincent de Paul.
Gerry’s books brought history to life for readers across a wide variety of age and interests – they were popular with readers ranging from secondary school students to historians. Gerry’s architectural training ensured he could recreate whole Dublin streetscape exactly and his intense interest in Irish history and his admiration for the historical figures he wrote about meant his people were always instantly recognisable – and he always made sure to get Padraic Pearse’s good side!
Apart from his skills as an artist, Gerry was a very popular figure at the O’Brien Press: open, chatty, interested in everything, he was a pleasure to work with. We used to have great chats about his hobbies and passions – everything from busking in Boston, to folk music and collecting Irish historical memorabilia to discovering new craft breweries in Dublin and sampling their wares. He was the prime mover behind the successful campaign to get a statue of Luke Kelly for Dublin city; though the statue has yet to find a home, sculptor John Coll has said that Gerry will get full credit when it does. He was a gentleman, in the truest sense of the word and we will miss him.