McCoubrey is a novel by Mark B. McCaffery and is being launched in Portadown tonight, 2 May. Below is a description of the novel and its author and here is the audio of an interview with the author on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster which can be found at 2 hours and 20 minutes into the show.

MARK B. McCAFFERY, a first-time author, achieves something remarkable in this coming-of-age novel. He transports us back fifty years to how adolescence and angst was for an inquisitive kid. But not just any kid. A Catholic kid who on top of the challenges of growing adolescence suddenly discovers rules of conduct and a pecking order to the world in which he and his community (a minority in unionist Portadown) live. Sectarian rules of conduct to which even his best friend Peter, a young Protestant is, sadly, also inescapably subject.

McCoubrey is a twelve-year-old rebel—but not in the nationalist or republican sense: he is no flag-bearer—but a rebel against the inconsistencies and double-standards of the world: ‘the phonies’, as Holden McCaulfield put it.

His survival mechanism is his innocence, his dry wit and his innate honesty. On top of all that he is charmed and elevated by the fact that the nightly newsreader on local BBC is his namesake, Larry McCoubrey, whom he privately addresses and assesses, appreciating Larry’s distress in having to increasingly report the growing horrors of the conflict in the North of Ireland. (Larry McCoubrey was a much-loved and very popular television presenter who tragically died of a brain haemorrhage in 1974.)

McCoubrey is a wonderful novel, a moment in time caught by Mark B. McCaffery and rendered so beautifully and candidly.


Mark B. McCaffery was born in Portadown in 1958. He attended several local schools—the Convent, St Columba’s, and St Malachy’s Secondary Intermediate. McCoubrey is his first novel and was inspired by his childhood experience of growing up in Portadown.

Mark B. McCaffery lives in London and is retired after a career in education.