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Hungry for Home: Leaving the Blaskets - A Journey from the Edge of Ireland Paperback – 29 Mar 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (29 Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140273956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140273953
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The Great Irish diaspora, that began in the 1840s with the potato famine soon saw the island's population of eight million reduced to less than four million, continued well into the 20th century, and has only finally been reversed with the arrival of tourism in the West of Ireland. Cole Morton here traces one of the last of those tragic emigration stories, from one of the very remotest places in the West: Great Blasket, off the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry. The last chapter in the ancient history of the Blaskets began on Christmas Eve, 1946, when a young man on the island, Seainin ("little Sean"), collapsed in bed with a terrible headache. There was no doctor, no policeman, not even a priest on the island to help. The only telephone was down. And on Christmas Day, Seainin died, "with his aunt whispering the Act of Contrition into a dead ear". And with that, the islanders realised that their lives on Blasket were no longer tenable. It is the kind of story that has been told before, and by natives of the islands as well, in their unique, poetic style: in Peig Sayers' memoirs, for instance, or Muiris O Suilleabhain's Twenty Years A-Growing. But Morton's account is equally worth reading, imaginative and sensitively written, as it follows the O Cearna family all the way from Blasket to the mainland, and eventually to America, the New World... It is pleasing, too, that the author does not pretend to some mythical Irish ancestry of his own, as is so fashionable nowadays with politicians and creatives on both sides of the Atlantic. Instead he states clearly that he is neither American nor Irish, but comes from East London. Good for him. --Christopher Hart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

What kind of book is Hungry for Home?
What kind of book is Hungry for Home? When people ask me that question I say it's the story of a family who made an incredible journey from the Middle Ages to the Space Age just by crossing the Atlantic. They are extraordinary people who lived in the most isolated circumstances, and yet produced (by virtue of the oral culture retained on the island) some of the most beautiful literature to be produced in Gaelic in modern times. And then they moved to America, transporting their island life to a suburb of a landlocked town in New England. The book combines reportage (as I trace and meet the surviving brothers and sisters of the Kearney clan) with travel writing (across Ireland and up the East Coast of America in the footsteps of the emigrants) and dramatic prose (including a recreation of the extraordinarily dramatic and sad events that led to the abandonment of the island half a century ago, as remembered by the people who were there). My intention was also to explore themes of exile and emigration that resonate beyond the curious story of the Blasket community, and to pursue the way our notions of home often prove to be fragile and elusive. During the writing of it I was struck by the parallels between the experiences of the islanders and of those of my friends and neighbours who have moved to London from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. This book should speak to anyone who feels, like me, that they have been hungry for home without really knowing where home is. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I visisted the Dingle Peninsula for the first time this year. How I wish I had read Hungry for Home before. It is the only book about the Blaskets readily available in the States - the classics such as the Peig Sayers books don't seem to be available in bookstores or libraries here. I am glad Mr. Moreton found and followed up on those O'Cearnas that stayed in the U.S. Interesting that those who were considered the bottom of the heap 50 years ago now use the same expressions to put down those that came after them. I also question why this book is listed as fiction in the Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication. Anyone who wants to know about the Blaskets should start with this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Initially I found this book a little difficult to get to grips with as it swayed from current date to the 1940's and then to the 1800's with such grace that I felt a bit dizzy after a while. However, once I had grown accustomed to the chronological dance, I fell in love with it.
You grow attached to the characters, like you are one of their own children, living amongst the waves and wind. This undoubtedly, is thanks to the powerful and yet intimate writing style of Cole Morton.
The book basically follows a family living on the Great Blasket island on the west coast of Kerry in Ireland during (and the generation that preceeded and followed) it's depopulation following the second world war.
It is a personal story, not a dry history text, and yet does not ignore the wider political picture in which this family existed.
A lovely heartwarming book, a must read.
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Format: Hardcover
The Blasket Islands spawned a whole library of literary works, all of which are world famous. This book surpasses all in it's clarity and incisiveness. The connecting of the last death on the Island with the eventual tracing of the family to the USA is fascinating in the extreme. This book is ESSENTIAL to any library connected to (Ireland),(Dingle Peninsula),Blasket Islands) (Emigration) (Language decline) and so much more. Must be a best-seller. Pat McKenna, Artist
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of my favourite books of all time. I have read it three times in the last 6yrs. The Blasket Island group off the SW coast of Ireland are not easy to forget when you have seen the area and the history of the unique (if hard) lifestyle the many families who lived there until the last of the islands was abandoned in 1953 is fascinating to read about. Cole Moreton (who is neither Irish nor American) writes about the rise of emigration from W Ireland to the US and how it ultimately caused the depopulation of the Great Blasket Island until life there was no longer sustainable, his book centres around the O'Cearna family in particular as the sad death of one of their young sons led to the inevitablility of evacuation of the island. Many of them then emigrated to America. We have much to learn from the tenacity of these people who left a life on a remote inaccessable island with no running water, electricity, gas or communications with the mainland and who then travelled to a different world when they stepped off a liner in Manhattan NYC and had to adapt. They left a world where everyone knew everyone else, many were related and all helped each other, working together to overcome adversity & hardship. They arrived to a very different set of circumstances but adapted that to try to replace what they had lost. Its an incredible story of humanity and the changes that post war life brought and the sadness emigration brings when families are split up also the ability of these people to adapt to unimaginable change. Moreton interviews surviving members of the O'Cearna family both in Ireland and the US. It's unputdownable.
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