The early life of Irish novelist and playwright Kate O'Brien.

'Arts Express' examines the theme of writers and a sense of place. Presenter Mary O'Sullivan travels to Limerick and takes a look back at the formative years in the life of Limerick-born writer Kate O'Brien.

O'Sullivan meets Limerick TD Jim Kemmy, who describes how Kate O'Brien's upbringing influenced her life and work. Left motherless at the age of five, O'Brien spent her youth in Laurel Hill Convent, a boarding school. Kate O'Brien based her novel 'The Land of Spices' (1941) on the 12 years she spent at boarding school. Kemmy comments

All her writings and novels are bound up in religion

'Land of Spices' tells the story of a woman who became a nun when she realised her father was involved with another man. The book was banned in Ireland. Another of her novels 'Mary Lavelle' (1936) was also banned. It tells the story of a young Irish governess in Spain, who falls in love with the married son of her employers.

Mary O'Sullivan also visits Kate's family home at Boru-House, an imposing house reflecting the success of her father's horse-breeding business. However, Kate's memories of the house were not happy ones. 

This episode of 'Arts Express' was broadcast on 5 February 1991.