Born in Wexford, Roche worked as an actor and a singer/songwriter with The Roche Band before turning to writing in the 1980s. A novel, Tumbling Down (1986), was followed by three plays which, like the novel, take place in his native Wexford. They are A Handful of Stars (1988), set in a pool hall and involving a young drifter slipping into crime; Poor Beast in the Rain (1989), set in a betting shop owned by a man whose wife has run off with a local ‘wild man’, Danger Doyle, to what has turned out to be a sad, lonely life in London; and Belfry (1991), set in a church and involving a sacristan who launches into a love affair with a married woman. After these plays, performed with great success in London in 1992 as the ‘Wexford trilogy’, came Amphibians (1992) about the decline of the same town’s fishing industry and its traditions, and The Cavalcaders (1993), another elegiac comedy, this time involving a group of cobblers who have formed themselves into a barber-shop quartet during their spare hours. Roche’s work is notable for its sympathetic, humorous, yet critical portrayal of a community that is both nourishing and stultifying and of the individuals whose lives are both positively and negatively shaped by those profoundly ambivalent roots.