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Our Man in Hibernia: Ireland, the Irish and Me [Paperback]

Charlie Connelly
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Sep 2010
If you think you know Ireland, this book will make you think again. Each year on St Patrick's Day the eighty million people around the world claiming Irish ancestry celebrate their spiritual homeland. Millions more don leprechaun hats and swallow pints of Guinness in an annual global high-fiving of all things Irish. Charlie Connelly was one of them. As a Londoner claiming Irish roots he thought he knew what Ireland was all about. Then, when he was least expecting it, he went to live there. Our Man In Hibernia follows Charlie's adventures living among the Irish. In an engaging and frequently hilarious tale - we learn how a tree stump can draw legions of visitors from across the land and why being on a pig's back is a desirable thing - Charlie contrasts the cliched shamrock-strewn image with the reality of life in modern Ireland.

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Our Man in Hibernia: Ireland, the Irish and Me + And Did Those Feet: Walking Through 2000 Years of British and Irish History + Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast (Radio 4 Book of the Week)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st Edition edition (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408702088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408702086
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 360,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charlie Connelly is a bestselling author and award-winning broadcaster.

He is the author of ten books, including the bestselling 'Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round The Shipping Forecast', and 'And Did Those Feet...: Walking Through 2000 Years Of British And Irish History'.

'Attention All Shipping' is one of the biggest selling travel narratives of the past decade, was a Radio 4 Book of the Week, and the audio version was voted the second greatest audiobook of all time in a Guardian/Waterstones poll in August 2008. 'And Did Those Feet' was also a Radio 4 Book of the Week, read by Martin Freeman.

Charlie was a presenter on the BBC Holiday programme, his first film for which won the Silver Thistle Award for international broadcasting.

He co-presented the first three series of Traveller's Tree with Fi Glover for BBC Radio 4 and devised and presented the acclaimed documentary 'Noel Coward, The Poet' for the same channel. He has been a regular guest on 'Excess Baggage' and has also appeared on BBC Radio 2, RTÉ Radio 1, Newstalk 106.2 and BBC Five Live. Charlie was shortlisted for the 2008 British Guild of Travel Writers' Radio Award for his work on Traveller's Tree.

He has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Times, New Statesman, Arena, Irish Times, Sunday Times, Glasgow Herald and - much to his accountant's amusement - the Financial Times. He has also written comedy scripts for RTÉ Radio One and wrote the well-received comedy show What's The Story?, broadcast in January 2011, for the same channel.

Charlie is a popular and entertaining public speaker, having lectured at the Royal Geographical Society, sold out the Edinburgh Festival and spoken at numerous events and festivals with venues for his solo appearances ranging from a sold out Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to the Toller Porcorum Village Hall in Dorset.

He has sung Blue Moon of Kentucky live on Uzbek national television with the country's biggest pop star, is an official ambassador for a breakaway Lithuanian republic, was once hounded by the UK national press after being falsely accused of intending to invade Rockall, was presented with an honorary team shirt with his name on by the Liechtenstein national football team and has been chased across the Great Plain by Hungarian gangsters. They thought he was someone else, but fortunately he didn't notice until they were arrested.

Charlie was born and raised in London. He now lives in Dublin.

Product Description


"A big-hearted, curious book . . . Offers something more valuable (than McCarthy's Bar) in the way it explores the aching nostalgia and strangeness of exile." --"Irish Times"

About the Author

As well as writing bestselling travel books such as ATTENTION ALL SHIPPING and IN SEARCH OF ELVIS, Charlie Connelly is also a broadcaster for Radio 4 and presenter for BBC1's The Holiday Programme.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book from Charlie Connelly 8 Oct 2010
Despite being born and raised in London Charlie Connelly always considered himself Irish. He was aware that many generations ago his forebears were from County Cork so maybe this was the reason why he was attracted to all things Irish even though he realised that the Ireland shown in beer adverts and movies was just an idealised version which probably never existed. Now living in Dublin in his latest book he turns his attention to his adopted country and, as I have come to expect from him, he has produced a book that is funny, informative and extremely entertaining.

Although the basis of the book is about his attempts to trace his Irish roots I thought these were perhaps my least favourite parts of the book. Whilst these sections were eminently readable it was when Connelly writes about other aspects of Irish life that he really excels. Although this is not a travelogue he visits various places that have all got an interesting story to tell. In one very amusing chapter, for example, he writes about his visit to a small village called Moneygall where it had been proved that Barack Obama could trace his lineage back to. In another chapter he visits Knock, the site of a visitation by the members of the holy family many years ago and the site of countless pilgrimages ever since. In a similar vein in pays a visit to a churchyard in which a felled tree stump is thought by some to resemble the Virgin Mary but not, as it turns out, by Charlie Connelly.

Charlie Connelly is an outstanding writer. He writes with such a lightness of touch that whilst for the most part he is an amusing writer he can also be serious and extremely perceptive. I can thoroughly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Irish roots 3 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Charlie Connelly moves to Dublin to live with his girlfriend, Jude, and becomes obsessed with discovering his Irish 'roots' Apparently one of his great-great-great grandfathers, John Connelly, was an Irish immigrant to London in the 1840s, and charlie Connelly goes in search of him, finding out about his life as a dockworkers in the East end of London, and trying to discover where in Ireland he came from.

Genealogy is a curious thing. Charlie Connelly must have had thirty-two great-great-great grandparents, so why should this one have obsessed him to the exclusion of all the others? I felt a bit sorry for the other thirty-one, spurned by Connelly in his search for the elusive John.

Connelly meanders round Ireland looking for John's origins, and explores London to find out about his life there. There are a lot of things I would have liked to know about that aren't mentioned. For instance, Connelly seems to have no interest at all in John's children, who I would have liked to know about, or any of the subsequent generations of his family. And there is a lengthy and melancholy discussion with a priest in London about the loneliness of the local elderly Irish immigrants. Why they are lonely is never explained though. Why haven't they got families, friends, children etc? This question is never asked.

Frankly, Connelly's obsession over his Irish 'roots' got on my nerves a bit. As far as I am concerned, where you are born and grow up is where your roots are. My roots are firmly embedded in the soil of Surrey, no matter that my distant ancestors (and my near ancestors, for that matter) came from elsewhere. 'Face it, Connelly, your roots are in south London, whether you like it or not' I wanted to snarl at him by the end of the book. Why can't he be satisfied just to be an Englishman who has moved to Dublin? I don't know.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful foray around the Emerald Isle 4 Nov 2010
This is a lovely, funny and often moving book by the thoughtful, charming and cheerful Mr Connelly. I was delighted by the way in which he has combined his trademark humour with an honest and heartfelt exploration of his own cultural heritage and, Ireland, the country he now calls home.

Connelly has a fine eye for the telling detail, subtle insight, and a deft turn of phrase that makes a place and a people come alive on the page. Ireland is a treasure trove for such a skilled writer, and Connelly does not waste the opportunity to celebrate its charm, wit, and wisdom, investigating the land, its fascinating and sometimes tragic history, and its spirited and wry people. As always, Mr Connelly's friendly style makes him an excellent companion.

`Our Man in Hibernia' explores not just one man's family history but the history of the Irish Everyman, those who left dire circumstances in search of nothing so grand as riches, but enough to eat. I am not ashamed to say I had a lump in the throat reading the author's reactions on learning how his ancestor had to, literally, scrape a living in the most abject conditions. Connelly is excellent on the appalling history and legacy of colonial involvement but also has little time for the subsequent models of Priest-ridden enclave or a fool's paradise for bankers and developers either.

This is a fine introduction to Ireland. A splendid foray around the Emerald Isle with one of our finest travel writers and wits. I heartily recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Plastic Paddies Here 13 Sep 2010
Charlie Connelly's latest "Our Man In Hibernia" had me checking to see if I'm actually Irish. Checked, and apparently I am. It's not many books on your own country (exception : F.S.L. Lyons' "Ireland Since The Famine")that have you cross referencing odd facts. Odd facts you thought as an Irishman you knew. (The biggie being that St Patrick's Day was dry until the mid 70s.) By describing with wry phraseology and avoiding the ever-growing self-flagellation of native commentators Mr Connelly holds up an affectionate mirror to a society on the brink of massive change. I'm reminded of Martha Gelhorn writing of her visit to her childhood home of Havana in the mid 80s. The reality is beneath the surface and it takes a skilled writer to pull the right punches.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing Read
Charlie Connelly is a great communicator and a very amusing writer who is easy to read. I love all his books and this was no exception.
Published 4 months ago by Noura
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, a great read and would recommend it.
A truly entertaining read, very informative and well written. I would recommend this book to anyone within interest in Ireland.
Published 5 months ago by MR Dermot Cavanagh
1.0 out of 5 stars Our very best man in Hibernia
I haven't given up reading a book in about 10 years, but couldn't bear with this any longer. Having lived in both London and Ireland for a long time, I was really looking forward... Read more
Published 20 months ago by pavotrouge
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking for ancestors in Ireland
I enjoyed reading this book and following the author's quest to unearth information about his Irish ancestors. Read more
Published on 2 Aug 2012 by G. Colville
2.0 out of 5 stars On verge of giving up
Having read Charlies previous books, Shipping, Feet, I was looking forward to this one. Alas, Ive got to page 100 and am considering giving up with it (I reckon if you arent... Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2011 by zigzag
4.0 out of 5 stars In Search of irish roots
I have really enjoyed Charlies past books and this continues his excellent work with his journey through Irelands past and present while also looking into his own irish roots. Read more
Published on 3 July 2011 by King Eric
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommending to all for Autumn firesides.





Buy it.

give it away.

buy it again.
Published on 13 Sep 2010 by matt roberts
3.0 out of 5 stars More of the same ???
Firstly, I certainly wasn't aware that Barack Obama has ever claimed "Irish Roots" ??????? I fail to see how he could, exactly........

To this book, then. Read more
Published on 12 Sep 2010 by Worker Bee
5.0 out of 5 stars Connelly pulls it off again
Not very long ago I picked up a copy of 'Stamping Grounds' by football writer Charlie Connelly. Never have I laughed to loudly before while reading a sports book. Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2010 by R. Grillo
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