Kevin Toolis is a BAFTA winning film maker, a director, a TEDMED speaker, a bardic poet and writer. And an islander.
Kevin is the writer of Nine Rules to Conquer Death – a groundbreaking life and death guide to our mortality amidst a global COVID pandemic as well as being a compelling TEDMED speaker on our collective existential flight from openly facing death.
After the publication of his previous death book My Father’s Wake: How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love and Die in 2017, Kevin was invited to speak at major medical and literary conferences all over the world including Yale Medical School, the Death Symposium in Toronto, Chicago, Hospice UK and the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Northern Ireland.
Kevin also performs in a unique Irish Trad show about wakes called the Wonders of the Wake with the beloved Irish singer Niamh Parsons and the Henry Girls that through the ancient arts of keening and bardic poetry celebrates the oldest rite of humanity, the Irish Wake.
As a film maker, Kevin won the Best Single Drama BAFTA for Complicit, a drama about torture in the post 9/11 world starring Selma star David Oyelowo. In 2020 he wrote the screenplays for a TG4 darkly wicked film Is Olc na Ghaoth on wakes, COVID and brotherly feuds.
As a documentary director, Kevin was nominated for a US Emmy for his masterpiece terrorism series Cult of the Suicide Bomber that was filmed in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Ireland and the United States. A full list of his 20 film credits can be accessed on his IMDB link.
In theatre, Kevin wrote and directed the London West End stage hit The Confessions of Gordon Brown and produced the groundbreaking BBC Shakespeare400 drama-doc Redefining Juliet, that cast six disabled actors as Juliet, and was performed at the London Barbican. He has also worked as a screenwriter for Universal Pictures.
Kevin’s first book is the acclaimed non fiction chronicle of Ireland’s Troubles Rebel Hearts – widely regarded as the best single work ever written about the IRA – that investigated the lives of both the generals and foot soldiers of the Irish Republican Army.
After graduating from Edinburgh University Kevin worked for numerous newspapers as a magazine writer and investigative reporter including the New York Times and The Observer. For a decade he worked for The Guardian as a long form writer on Weekend magazine.
His new book draws on the wisdom of the ancients, from the Aztecs and the Iliad to the Irish Wake, Nine Rules to Conquer Death provides the answer to those eternal mortal fears and longings. Kevin distils insights drawn from millennia of human experience into a profound and punchy guide to dying – and living – well.
He explains why life would be terrible if we did not die. Why we should embrace our mortality, and see the life-affirming necessity of sharing the company of the dead. Nine Rules up-ends every fear and presumption we hold about death to help us live a more authentic, fear-free life. Nine Rules is a guidebook like no other.
Kevin lives on his mothers’ island Achill Island, off the coast of Mayo, in the same village where his family have lived for the last 250 years.
Kevin Toolis’s books are available on-line from Amazon and from all good bookshops.