James’ eulogy

My early memories of Poll are of her nestled in her room working – on the rare occasions when I was allowed to enter her space. Her room was much like most teenagers, a wooden desk full of papers and books, a red telephone next to her bed, that was actually connected and which she would use to talk to her friends and a poster of James Dean from the film Rebel Without A Cause. I took for granted older sisters care about studying, communicating and James Dean. It’s just what they do. 

Although we were far apart in years, there was much that connected us. A love of football, which started when I came home from primary school to tell her that I was a Tottenham fan, which Polly she was not too happy about, and as we all know, what Polly wants, Polly gets and she soon had me shouting for the gunners. 

As children we had some fantastic holidays together. Often this would be going up to the Lake District to the home where our grandparents lived. In the evenings we would sit around playing board games and having a really good laugh. 

Before going to university, Polly took a gap year to go and teach English in Russia. I remember her buying these incredible pair of Moon Boots that I would pinch and walk around in the house. When she returned she brought wonderful treats from cut price caviar – which I thought was disgusting to babushkas. Shortly afterwards Polly left for university and suddenly the house felt empty, and I realised how important she had been to me.

Our later years saw a renewal in our relationship. Polly was someone who I could talk to about anything. She was someone who really cared and would listen intently. Upon starting a family, I saw a new side to Poll, the total devotion and commitment to the wellbeing of her two lovely children, Martha and Rosie and something to which I aspire.

When we announced that Aida was expecting Aoife, Polly genuinely thrilled. When Aida went into labour, it was Polly who I called first, all giddy with excitement, to tell her the amazing news. She told me bluntly, ‘James, this is going to be a long night, and things could get really difficult and you need to keep a calm head and be there for Aida’. It was great advice, and very timely, something that was one of Polly’s real talents.

As recently as May of 2018 we all had a magical holiday in Anglesey that Polly organised. We climbed Snowden, went swimming in the sea and scavenged the beach for trinkets and seaware, something that Polly loved to do. 

Polly is an incredibly special and in many ways a unique person, a friend who I will miss greatly. However, I am encouraged to see so much of her in her magnificent daughters, her friends and Rhys. While we didn’t always see eye to eye, Polly you were a role model to me, a support who helped me navigate our difficult childhood. I would also like to thank you on behalf of our father, to whom you gave so much, particularly shouldering a heavy burden at a young age after he suffered a triple bypass. I will miss sitting around the table after dinner putting the world to right, making you laugh, and hearing about the extraordinary things that you are doing and would like to take this opportunity to say goodbye and to thank you for being such an important part of my life.


The Polly Corrigan Book Prize committee is delighted to announce that the winner of the Prize for 2022 is:  Security Empire: The Secret Police in Communist Eastern Europe (Yale University Press 2020) by Dr Molly Pucci, Assistant Professor of Twentieth Century European History at Trinity College Dublin. Security Empire is an impressive achievement. In it, Molly Pucci constructs a…

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