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From the Great Blasket to America

The Last Memoir by an Islander (Paperback)

By Michael J. Carney with Gerald W. Hayes
RRP: 12.99  

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Description

Click on the image of the island boys for a look inside this book

Mike Carney, the oldest living native Blasket Islander, was born on the Great Blasket Island in 1920. Raised in that unique, isolated Irish-speaking community, Mike left in 1937 to seek a better future in Dublin – and eventually in America. The death of his younger brother on the island without a priest or doctor in 1947 set off a chain of events that led to its evacuation. Mike played a pivotal role in the process, lobbying Éamon de Valera to relocate the remaining islanders living in increasingly desperate conditions. Mike settled in Springfield, Massachusetts, with other former islanders. While taking advantage of opportunities in his adopted country, he never lost his love for the country of his birth, saying ‘it’s like loving both parents’.

This is the story of his life and his efforts to preserve the memory of the Great Blasket, to promote Irish culture in America, to respect roots left behind and to set down roots in a new land. Written as Mike approached the age of ninety-three, with his son-in-law Gerald Hayes, this memoir is probably the last in a long line of books written by Blasket Islanders, including Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin and Peig Sayers. Recounting one man’s life but relating the experience of many, it chronicles a lifetime devoted to family, community and legacy. All the while, he seems haunted by the immortal words of Ó Criomhthain: ‘the like of us will never be again.’

Click here to see Mike's trip back to the island, as reported on RTÉ News Now.

Bibliographic Data

  • Book Format: Paperback
  • Published: 2013
  • Dimensions: 198 x 128 mm
  • Number of pages: 224
  • ISBN: 9781848891654
  • Illustrations note: B&W photos,

Editorial Reviews

"A treasure."

– Irish Echo

"Effervescent memoir."

– Sunday Business Post

"Spellbinding memoir."

– Irish Independent

"Heartfelt account in a simple, charming style."

– Irish Examiner

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From the Great Blasket to America
The Last Memoir by an Islander
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