Galway Bay

Galway Bay: by Mary Pat Kelly

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Since March tends to bring about thoughts of all things Irish, I thought I’d share a book I read recently with you.  Galway Bay was a good read.  It’s a fairly long one though, with the story spanning several generations of an Irish family.


Here is a description of the novel from the author:

One family’s epic journey captures both the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience—and echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself …

In a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family. Because they and their countrymen must sell both their catch and their crops to pay exorbitant rents, potatoes have become their only staple food.

But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees—victims saving themselves—in the emigration from Ireland.

Danger and hardship await them in America. Honora, her unconventional sister Máire, and their children help transform Chicago from a frontier town to the “City of the Century.” The boys go on to fight in the Civil War and enlist in the cause of Ireland’s freedom.

Spanning six generations and filled with joy, sadness, and heroism, GALWAY BAY sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today’s forty-four million Irish Americans—and is a universal story you will never forget.

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This book took me a little while to get into, but once I did I liked it a lot.  It was, however, very long…very long; like James Michener long.

The descriptions of scenery in the book were wonderful; as were the linguistic accuracies.  Some of the language in the book was specific to both a time and place in history as well as a particular cultural and socio-economic level.  I really thought the author did a great job with that.

Though it was a long one, I thought this novel was definitely worth the read.  It was truly a saga of survival for one family.

I NEVER would have made it in the olden days?  No way.  No how.  I have absolutely zero ruggedness in my being.  Fortitude, yes.  Perseverance, yes.  Stalwart – I am not.  How about you?

If you give this book a go, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.



**I have received no compensation for specific products or retailers mentioned in this post.