John Patrick Montague was born in Brooklyn of Irish parents in 1929. His father, James Terence Montague, had gone there for employment in 1925, joining a brother who ran a speakeasy. James’s wife, Mary (Molly) Carney, and their two sons joined him in 1928; John, the third son, was produced by this reunion. In 1933, the three brothers were sent to County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, the older two moving in with Carney relatives in Fintona, the youngest staying with two unmarried Montague aunts in Garvaghey. John’s mother returned to Ireland in 1936, settling in Fintona (his father did not return until 1952).
Montague was reared apart from his mother and brothers, though he spent some holidays with them. He excelled at local schools, developed a stammer that would persist through his life, and won a scholarship to a boarding school in Armagh. He spent summer holidays during World War II with cousins in the South of Ireland. Having enrolled at University College, Dublin, he received a B.A. in history and English in 1949. He traveled in Austria, Italy, and France; in 1952, he received his M.A. in Anglo-Irish literature.
Montague traveled to the United States in 1953, spending a year at Yale University, a summer at Indiana University, and a year in the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he received a master of fine arts degree in 1955. There he met Madeleine de Brauer. They were married in her native France before returning to Dublin...
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