The Heart’s Invisible Furies

hearts furiesI love the idea of taking part in the challenges that crop up but never seem to get my timing right. I read this for the Reading Ireland challenge in March but as usual find myself a few weeks behind, still, it got me to pick this up from the pile on the box at the end of my bed and I’m glad I did because it was really good!

In 1945 16 year old Catherine Goggin is thrown out of her village in West Cork one Sunday morning during mass while her family watch from the second pew. She takes the late afternoon bus to Dublin, and meets Seán MacIntyre and Jack Smoot. The three share a dingy flat together while Catherine makes plans for her future. She entrusts the baby to ‘a little hunchbacked Redemptorist nun’ to find a family with whom he’ll have a better life, and so begins Cyril’s story as he tries to negotiate life and find out who he is. Continue reading “The Heart’s Invisible Furies”

The Green Road

The Green Road

Constance and Hannah, Dan and Emmet and their mother Rosaleen are the family from County Clare at the centre of The Green Road.

Split into two parts, the first part concentrates on the characters as individuals, each one given their own episode to tell their story at a particular time, starting with Hannah aged 12 in 1980; until in part two, back in Ireland for Christmas, we see the family together in 2005. Continue reading “The Green Road”

Reading Finnegans Wake

finnegans wakeEaster 2017 and my reading chums and I finished Ulysses, we absolutely loved it and quickly read (and went to see) Hamlet to explore the father/son motif, read Dubliners so we could spend more time with the characters and went to Dublin to celebrate Bloomsday.  We read Portrait of the Artist to get more of Stephen Dedalus, we even went on a course and gave (very short) presentations on different aspects of the book.  We were in awe of his intelligence, his sparkling language – how could we get more Joyce?
Let’s read Finnegans Wake we said!

The first week, armed with Oxford Classic editions and our guide A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake (Joseph Campbell) we had a really fun time annotating our copies with the chapter headings that Mr key to FWCampbell provided “to serve as a handrail for the reader groping (their) way along unfamiliar galleries'” and wondered how we were going to read it.

“It is a strange book, a compound of fable, symphony, and nightmare – a monstrous enigma beckoning imperiously from the shadowy pits of sleep.” (Joseph Campbell).  It’s a vast dream, crowded with characters where all time occurs simultaneously. A revolving stage of mythological heroes, remotest antiquity and popular culture. Continue reading “Reading Finnegans Wake”

At Swim Two Boys

at-swim-two-boys-jamie-oneill-paperback

“Heads that bobbed like floating gulls and gulls that floating bobbed like heads. Two heads. At swim, two boys.”

Jim Mack and Doyler Doyle are the two boys, who in 1915 make a pact that in a years time, they’ll swim out across Dublin bay to Muglins Rock and raise the flag, claiming the rock for Ireland and themselves.

Above on my perch I sit and watch. Alone one man.”

Anthony MacMurrough is the man, recently arrived in Ireland at the invitation of his Aunt Eva after serving two years hard labour in an English prison for gross indecency. Part of an old Irish family he gets caught up in his aunts battle for Irish Independence and becomes a part of the boys’ lives.

This is a real epic. The poor, the dispossessed, the middle-class, the Anglo-Irish aristocracy are all seen against a country in political upheaval.  The dream of liberation for Ireland from the English is mirrored in the boys’  search for personal freedom as their love for each other grows. It’s a story about swimming, Irish history and romance and I found myself completely immersed in the lives of the small cast of characters and the life of Dublin, as they head towards the Easter Rising of 1916. Continue reading “At Swim Two Boys”