Hungry for Home: Leaving the Blaskets: A Journey from the Edge of Ireland

Moreton, Cole

Published by Penguin Books, 2001
ISBN 10: 0141001941 / ISBN 13: 9780141001944
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Synopsis: From ancient times until 1953, when dramatic events forced them to evacuate, the people of the remote Blasket Islands off the southwest coast of Ireland led a medieval way of life, speaking a pure form of Irish and gathering by turf fires to hear tales handed down from ancient times. Cole Moreton tells the story of the Blaskets through the eyes of the Kearney family, who lived there for generations until 1947 when they paid a terrible price for their isolation-a young man's life. Moreton discovers a few survivors still alive within sight of the Great Blasket, but most had left Ireland for America, settling in Massachusetts.

Hungry for Home is a beautifully written and gripping account of a quest for a vanished people, and the Kearneys' incredible journey into the twentieth century is "a moving, atmospheric testament to the mythic lure of home." (Entertainment Weekly).

Review: The Great Irish diaspora that began in the 1840s with the potato famine soon saw the island's population of 8 million reduced to less than 4 million. The process continued well into the 20th century, and has only finally been reversed with the arrival of tourism in the West of Ireland. In Hungry for Home, Cole Moreton traces one of the last of those tragic emigration stories, from one of the very remotest places in the West: Great Blasket, off the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry. The last chapter in the ancient history of the Blaskets began on Christmas Eve 1946, when a young man on the island, Seainin ("little Sean"), collapsed in bed with a terrible headache. There was no doctor, no policeman, not even a priest on the island to help. The only telephone was down. And on Christmas Day, Seainin died, "with his aunt whispering the Act of Contrition into a dead ear." And with that, the islanders realized that their lives on Blasket were no longer tenable. It is the kind of story that has been told before, and by natives of the islands as well, in their unique, poetic style: in Peig Sayers's memoirs, for instance, or Maurice O'Sullivan's Twenty Years A-Growing. But Morton's account is equally worth reading, imaginative and sensitively written, as it follows the O Cearna family all the way from Blasket to the mainland, and eventually to America, the New World. It is pleasing, too, that the author does not pretend to some mythical Irish ancestry of his own, as is so fashionable nowadays with politicians and creatives on both sides of the Atlantic. Instead, he states clearly that he is neither American nor Irish, but comes from East London. Good for him. --Christopher Hart, Amazon.co.uk

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Title: Hungry for Home: Leaving the Blaskets: A ...
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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