cover image Irish Hunger: Exploring the Legacy of the Potato Famine

Irish Hunger: Exploring the Legacy of the Potato Famine

. Roberts Rinehart Publishers, $24.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-1-57098-111-1

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of ""Black '47,"" the worst year of the Irish potato famine, California state senator Hayden here collects pieces by 29 Irish and Irish American writers about the disaster and what it means to the Irish today. David Lloyd remarks on Sinead O'Connor's song ""Famine,"" and on the ""keening"" that takes place in it and how these banshee famine shrieks follow the Irish to this day. Jimmy Breslin examines the fungi that brought the famine and sees it transplanted to the U.S. in the form of bigotry. New York Observer columnist Terry Golway comments on the conservative politics of the modern American Irish and tells how hunger striker Bobby Sands saved him from the fate of becoming a ""Reagan Democrat."" Irish actor Gabriel Byrne takes us on a ""famine walk"" and reminds us that ""the past is always with us."" James S. Donnelly Jr. looks at ""revisionist"" history and tries to find a middle ground between holocaust and indifference. Michael Collins biographer Tim Pat Coogan ponders British duplicity and brings it into the Northern Ireland political perspective of today. Irish-American Peggy O'Brian transports us to the other side, as she emigrates back to Ireland from Massachusetts. There are also poems by Eavan Boland and Seamus Heaney. This perspective looks at the historical, social and political facets of the famine, and allows us to reflect on how it happened and how it continues to haunt the Irish to this day. (June)