Tom Clancy, author famous for books like "Patriot Games" and "Hunt for Red October" dies aged 66

I heard from the late Tom Clancy once. It was back in 1988 after our magazine, Irish America, took him to task for his blatant anti Irishisms in “Patriot Games,” his best-selling book and movie. (You might remember Harrison Ford in the lead role).

Among the issues we were upset by was the description of Jack Ryan, his Irish American hero, and his meeting with the Queen.

“Ryan found himself captivated by the woman’s humanity...but the crowning glory was yet to come.

“You will henceforth be known as Sir John Ryan.” Ouch!

Clancy also blamed the IRA for the 1972 Derry Bloody Sunday shootings in the book.

“Were you one of the guys who stage managed the provocations?” Ryan asks of an IRA figure.

The paratroopers (who shot dead 13 people) Clancy says, “claimed they had been fired on from someone in the crowd and merely returned fire to defend themselves.”


Clancy also had his hero Jack say, “Why not keep the b****rds out of the country,” when the suggestion was made that a Sinn Fein group come to America.

You get the gist – this was back in 1988 remember and The Troubles were a daily reminder.

About a week after the critique was published I received a very irate call from Clancy himself.

He strongly disputed that he was anti–Irish and declared himself a proud Irish American. We argued back and forth and he asked for right of reply. The following day it arrived via express mail. (No Internet back then!)

It was a statement of about a 2,000 words with a lengthy review of Irish history. Finally he got to the point.

“The only possible solution to The Troubles is political of course and that solution is the unification of Ireland,” Clancy wrote.

There was lots more to the statement but Clancy’s essential point was that he was anti-IRA but believed in a United Ireland.

Fair enough.

I will remember him then as a proud Irish American and a great novelist and man who took the time to set the record straight when he was a very famous man indeed.

May he rest in peace.