Despite this being primarily a mental health space, it is no secret that I have a love for writing and books. And so with that in mind, this section of the website will be dedicated, sporadically, to books – in particular to hidden gems you may not have heard of that you should definitely read.
My Ireland by Margaret Connor
My publisher for Lonely Boy, Bookhub Publishing, publishes widely. Earlier this year they sent me My Ireland by Margaret Connor to review, which details a life lived in Ballina, Co. Mayo in the 50’s and 60’s. The book is gorgeously nostalgic for a time that no longer exists. As I read I felt transported, and the level of detail in the recall reminded me of my late grandfather, who often reminisced about his upbringing near Kinsale in Co. Cork.
This book is a heartfelt tribute to home, and a celebration of the intricate tapestry that is our Irish rural heritage.
Connor’s writing is as captivating as the rolling hills of our countryside, building up the true characters of her life with stories and anecdotes of their shared history. She skillfully weaves together a collection of stories, each one a vibrant thread that reflects the essence of our culture, struggles, triumphs, and unwavering spirit.
Connor purposefully avoids all things political in her writing, choosing to offer this book as a tonic rather than a historical snapshot. Afterall, her memoir is a love letter to the internal, the family, the community, and so excluding the external happenings of a broader Ireland was the perfect choice.
“My Ireland” is not simply a book, but a transformative journey. It transports readers through the lush landscapes of our country, the dramas that can occur in small rural communities, and the warm hearths of our homes. Along the way, we meet a diverse cast of characters who embody the very essence of Ireland – the poets, the farmers, the dreamers, and the fighters.
What I admire most about Connor’s work is her ability to capture the essence of rural Ireland in a way that is both personal and universally relatable. Her stories are deeply rooted in the Irish experience, yet they resonate with readers from all walks of life, reminding us of our shared humanity, and our intrinsic sense of home.
In “My Ireland”, Connor paints a vivid portrait of our Ballina in the 50’s and 60’s that is is crystallised by her timely use of Gaeilge to anchor a modern Ireland in its rich cultural past.. Reading it fills one with a sense of pride, nostalgia, and a profound connection to our roots.
In conclusion, “My Ireland” deserves a place on every Irish bookshelf. It is a book that will make you laugh, make you shed a tear, and most importantly, make you appreciate the beauty and depth of our rural heritage. Margaret Connor has taken a full view of her life in Mayo and her grá for home is evident on every page.