Boyle, Patrick (Alphonsus) (1905–82), writer, was born 11 April 1905 in Victoria Street, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, the third son of Patrick Boyle, solicitor, and his wife, Kathleen (née Dempsey). He was educated at Coleraine Academical Institution, where he and his brother were among the few middle-class catholics. He did poorly at school and had a stammer, so instead of entering the family practice he joined Ulster Bank. Apart from a period following a retinal haemorrhage in his mid-twenties, he worked for the bank in Omagh, Edgeworthstown, Glenties, and Ardragh, before being appointed manager of its Wexford branch.
He struggled to write in between working and drinking (to which he later claimed to have devoted seventeen years). He was published occasionally in New writing and Penguin new writing, but was more accustomed to rejection. In 1962 the American magazine Evergreen Review published a story, ‘Go away, old man, go away’, which aroused interest; Grove Press in the USA became his publisher. In 1965 he submitted fourteen stories to a short story competition held by the Irish Times, taking the first five places. Many of these were subsequently published in a highly successful collection entitled At night all cats are grey (1966). This was preceded in the same year by a novel, Like any other man, as the publisher asked for a novel on the back of which they could promote the short stories. The novel reworked the biblical story of Samson as an account of the life of a hard-drinking provincial bank manager called Simpson who becomes involved with a woman called Delia. Eight months after the novel's publication Irish customs officers seized several copies of the book, but the censor passed it on appeal. The novel received moderate reviews, but his short stories, in which ‘idyllicism gets short shrift’ (Kiely, 12), were greeted with excitement.
He retired from the bank on a pension and settled in Portmarnock, Co. Dublin; he later insinuated that this change was expedited by Ulster Bank, unhappy at his portrayal of their profession. He concentrated on writing, producing two further collections of short stories, All looks yellow to the jaundiced eye (1969) and A view from Calvary (1976), and becoming a regular reviewer for Hibernia. Boyle's view of provincial life is bitingly satirical, gritty and often grotesque. He claimed to be interested in the ‘hum and reek of creation’ (Matthews, 87); one story is set in a public lavatory. Man's relationship with animals is often employed as an unflattering metaphor for human relationships, and a key theme is betrayal. A selection of his works, The port wine stain, was published posthumously in 1983, but his reputation receded somewhat in later years. He was a member of the Irish Academy of Letters and PEN. In 1951 he married Helen (Teddy) Máire Ward. He died 7 February 1982 at his home in Portmarnock, and was buried in St Fintan's cemetery, Sutton, Co. Dublin.