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

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

Paperback

By (author) Michael J. Carney, By (author) Gerald Hayes

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  • Publisher: The Collins Press
  • Format: Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 196mm x 18mm | 240g
  • Publication date: 19 September 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Cork
  • ISBN 10: 1848891652
  • ISBN 13: 9781848891654
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Illustrations note: B&W photos
  • Sales rank: 203,064

Product description

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 Eamon 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 Tomas O Criomhthain, Muiris O Suilleabhain 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 O Criomhthain: 'the like of us will never be again.'

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Author information

Mike Carney (Micheal O Cearna) knew little English when he traveled to the mainland at 16 to work as a bar man in Dublin. He wrote an Irish language column for The Irish Press while in Dublin. In Springfield MA he worked as a store manager and as a security officer. He was president of the John Boyle O'Reilly Club for 16 years and helped to create the Blasket Island Centre (Dunquin). He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in Celtic literature from the National University of Ireland Maynooth in 2009, honoring a lifelong devotion to preserving the language and culture of his native place. Gerald Hayes is married to Mike's daughter Maureen.

Review quote

"A treasure." - Irish Echo "Effervescent memoir." - Sunday Business Post "Spellbinding memoir." - Irish Independent "Heartfelt account in a simple, charming style." - Irish Examiner