The mystery of Marsha Mehran:
The best-selling young novelist who died a recluse in a rubbish-strewn cottage on Ireland’s west coast
by Cahal Milmo
From the moment of her arrival in Lecanvey, Marsha Mehran cut a solitary figure.
The few times she was seen were when she would sit, in the depths of winter, on a bench in the shadow of Ireland’s holiest mountain and open her laptop to catch the Wi-Fi from the village pub opposite.
The Dawson family, who run Staunton’s Pub in a crook of the meandering road that tracks the stark beauty of County Mayo’s Atlantic coast, repeatedly invited the striking young woman into the warmth.
Once or twice in four months, she accepted. But most of the time the 36-year-old politely declined, explaining that she needed to get back home. Visitors to her nearby rented house overlooking a rocky beach were greeted with a sign: “Do not disturb. I’m working.”
As Therese Dawson, the landlady of the homely boozer in the shadow of the 2,500ft Croagh Patrick, put it: “I suppose she needed our Wi-Fi and she’d be out there in all weathers. Of course we invited her in. We told her she didn’t have to worry about buying anything. But I sensed from her that she preferred to be alone.”
Just how alone only became clear shortly before 1pm on 30 April last year.
After days of messages and door knocks had gone unanswered, Teresa Walsh, the letting agent for the boxy, unlovely bungalow on nearby Pier Road, rented by Marsha since late January, used her spare keys to get inside.
Some 18 days earlier, Marsha had sent a text saying she could not deal with a question about her tenancy because she had been “vomiting blood for the last few weeks”. The estate agent’s response – asking if she had seen a doctor and offering help – met with no answer.
Marsha Mehran: obituary
Mrs Walsh found her Iranian-born tenant lying face down on the bedroom floor, wearing only a woollen cardigan. She had been dead for about a week and around her lay the detritus of her increasingly marginal existence in the previous weeks and months: dozens of empty mineral water bottles and the wrappers of the large chocolate bars that had become her chief source of sustenance.
Amid the squalor, her sole tangible financial assets were a single euro coin and a $5 note.
It was a grim, lonely passing that might otherwise have gone unremarked beyond Lecanvey and its windswept beaches, but for one thing: Marsha Mehran was an internationally best-selling author, read in dozens of countries, pursued by film directors, garlanded with rave reviews and, according to those who knew her, a free spirit with a rare zest for life and many more books to write.
Rest of the article at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-mystery-of-marsha-mehran–the-bestselling-young-novelist-who-died-a-recluse-in-a-rubbishstrewn-cottage-on-irelands-windswept-west-coast-9953073.html