Publisher's Note to the 1991 edition of Famine Diary: Journey to a New World

Stop Press-- Publisher's Note

In April 1992, during the printing of this edition, the controversy generated by the publication of Famine Diary reached a significant climax.

Some critics questioned the authenticity of the Keegan diary on which it is based, alleging that the diary was a work of fiction written by Robert Sellar, who published the first printed version under the title Summer of Sorrow. Consequent on this controversy, Radharc Films, who intended to use part of the original story in their television series on the Irish famine, took steps to check the authorship. With advice from the Gardai and help from AFrI, Radharc commissioned a study to check the allegation that the diary was written by Sellar.

Dr Michael Farringdon studied the text of Keegan's diary, and that of its introduction by Sellar, using modern analysis techniques of cumulative sum stylometry, which he has used in presenting evidence to the Central Criminal Court, Dublin and at the Old Bailey, London. His summary conclusions are clear:

1. In my opinion Robert Sellars, the author of Gleaner Tales, is not the author of The Diaryof Gerald Keegan.

2. The samples from the The Diary of Gerald Keegan are, in my opinion, the mixed utterance of two or more people. However, most of the sentences are by the same person, not Robert Sellars. It is quite conceivable that The Diary has been edited and the syntactic 'fingerprint' of such an editor may be responsible for the mixed utterance. The number of sentences found in the samples from The Diary which appear to be by another hand are too few for an attempt at identification to be made without further very extensive and tedious efforts.