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An Irish Navvy: The Diary of an Exile [Paperback]

Donall MacAmhlaigh , Valentin Iremonger
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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An Irish Navvy: The Diary of an Exile An Irish Navvy: The Diary of an Exile 5.0 out of 5 stars (2)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2003
Irish construction workers in post-war Britain are celebrated in song and story. Donall MacAmhlaigh kept a diary as he worked the sites, danced in Irish halls, drank in Irish pubs and lived the life of the roving Irish navvy. Work was hard, dirty and dangerous, followed by pints in the Admiral Rodney, the Shamrock and the Cattle Market Tavern. Living conditions were basic at best. This vivid picture of an Irish navvy's life in England in the 1950s mirrors that of an entire generation who left Ireland without education or hope. Days without food or work, the hardships of work camps, lonesome partings after trips home, periods of intense isolation and bitter reflection, all were part of the experience.

Product details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: The Collins Press; New edition edition (1 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903464366
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903464366
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 13.3 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 390,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


A must for any who can relate to building up and tearing England down. --Irish Edition

One of the most authentic voices of the Irish in Britain. --Bookshelf

So remarkable and compelling. --Peter Sheridan, Ireland on Sunday

About the Author

Donall MacAmhlaigh from Galway moved with his family to Kilkenny when aged fourteen. Later he returned, joined the army and left in 1951 after three years at Renmore Army Barracks, Galway, and emigrated to England. He died in 1989.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Navvvying in 1950's Britain 7 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For a brief period I studied Gaelic at school in Ireland. I retained very little but I remember this book which, in its original irish language version, was a textbook at the time. As an english boy who had found himself in Ireland I suppose I was intrigued by the diary of a Irish navvy in England.Anyway I was delighted some 40+ years later to come across the book in english. Now it is a period piece because both the England he went to and the Ireland he came from are like different planets to-day compared to that not so far off age. The Irish navvy is still a staple of major construction sites but he is unlikely to be the god fearing, sexually inexperienced and comparatively naive young man that the author was speaking gaelic as his first language. The author had almost no conception of England other than what he had gained from books, newspapers and folklore back home. At that time there really was a considerable gap between the experiences of a young man in rural or small town Ireland and english society. This book details the experiences of an immigrant struggling to come to terms with what he found and to earn the living that he could not find at home. It is a telling reflection on the state of Ireland at that time that every one of his brothers and sisters ended up living and working in England. It has a resonance in the immigrant experience even to-day where those who make it to the UK very quickly plug into the resident community of their fellow countrymen or religous group and find employment and a social life within that community. The Author pretty much lived in an Irish bubble in England and actively sought to do so, integration does not happen quickly. I doubt the Author saw his move to England as a permanent emigration but for whatever reason that is what it turned into. Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Irish Navvy 5 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A superb account of labouring work in the 1950's
and 1960's.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Irish Navvy 23 Oct 2010
By Alana
A brilliant read. I bought this for my husband and he couldn't put it down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book. 20 May 2011
This book The Irish Navvy was the most perfect gift idea, i bought it for my husband and he`s only put it down to go to work. The ordering was simple the packaging excellent and speed of delivery outstanding. Thank you Amazon. I will be ordering again.
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