There is an Isle: A Limerick Boyhood

Criostoir O'Flynn, Author Mercier Press $15.95 (350p) ISBN 978-1-85635-219-2
What hath Frank McCourt wrought? Here, we are presented with the anti-McCourt view of Limerick City in the 1930s and '40s. O'Flynn was born there in 1927 and remembers growing up poor but happy in cramped conditions with not even a radio in the house, but he warns ""our academic sociologist [to] be wary now of making false deductions."" O'Flynn's parents were stalwarts: his mother worked from morning till night either cooking, darning or washing, while his father, who delivered coal by day, became ""cobbler and barber and general handyman"" around the house by night. He relives a childhood that bears the blueprints for Eamon DeValera's Ireland--Catholic, Gaelic and poor. His childhood stories included tales of Jack-and-the-Beanstalk, the deadliness of the Black and Tans, and the treacheries of Michael Collins's ""fatal treaty""-- ""a callous desertion of the Catholic Nationalist people."" O'Flynn recalls an Ireland where everyone smoked Woodbines (""coffin nails"") cigarettes till they dropped; where music was a centerpiece of the community; where books were cherished; and where the Catholic Church was omniscient. O'Reilly, who was elected to Aosdana, the state-sponsored body of those writers and artists considered to have made a significant contribution to Irish arts, offers a more conservative, positive and nationalistic view of the Limerick City of bygone days, one that won't necessarily appeal to those introduced to this same city by Angela's Ashes. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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