"Bad Day in Blackrock" has recently attracted attention again, because it's inspired the storyline for the new Irish movie, "What Richard Did." Based on a real case that shocked Ireland earlier in the decade when a wealthy young Irish teenager was accidentally killed in a brawl outside a Dublin night-club, "Bad Day in Blackrock" is a harrowing, gripping and illuminating look into the underbelly of Ireland's so-called 'Celtic Tiger.'
Part of what gives "Bad Day in Blackrock" its punch is that everyone in it, from the judge to Conor's killer and Conor himself, all came from the same socio-economic background. All of them were born, raised and educated in south Dublin's affluent (good and, more often, bad) and it's true that nearly all cities have areas like south Dublin's, which makes it relatable to. This world of upper-middle-class privilege and opportunity has only been increased by Ireland's economic miracle, which was in full throws at the time "Bad Day in Blackrock" was written. As cynical as it sounds, had Conor Harris been killed by three working class boys, this would have been a very different story and the media would have had a field day discussing how "chav" culture had run amok in modern Ireland. As it was, Conor's killers were three boys very like himself, who were all very drunk, out for a night out with their friends and who decided to show off in a fit of bravado and accidentally ended up taking another human's life.
"Bad Day in Blackrock" is about much, much more than the character of Conor Harris's death. It's a harrowing look at the only-slightly-fictionalized actions of three boys who are so like three boys a lot of us know. It's about class, personal responsibility, mistakes and it's one of those books that stays with you. I found myself thinking about it, with morbid fascination, long after I'd finished reading it.