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The House on an Irish Hillside: When you know where you've come from, you can see where you're going Paperback – 7 Jun 2012


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The House on an Irish Hillside: When you know where you've come from, you can see where you're going + Me And Mine + An Irish Country Childhood
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444730304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444730302
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 603,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Felicity Hayes-McCoy was born in Dublin, Ireland, and graduated in English and Irish from UCD in the 1970s. She then built a successful UK-based career as an actress and writer, working in theatre, music theatre, radio, tv, and digital media.

In 1995, in partnership with the British opera director, Wilfred Judd, she set up JHM, an umbrella company under which theatre, music and multimedia work is conceived and made. Their works have been seen in the UK, US and Australia.

Described as 'wise', 'funny' and 'blazingly beautiful' by the actress Joanna Lumley, Felicity's memoir, The House on an Irish Hillside, explores the lifelong journey which has reconnected her with her native cultural inheritance and led her and Wilf to divide their time between a former Edwardian factory in inner-city London and a stone house on Ireland's Dingle peninsula, where Felicity first studied the Irish language in her teens. 'From the moment I crossed the mountain I fell in love. With the place, which was more beautiful than any place I'd ever seen. With the people I met there. And with a way of life that was deeper, richer and wiser than any I'd known before. When I left I dreamt of clouds on the mountain. I kept going back.'

She blogs about her life in both places at http://felicityhayes-mccoy.blogspot.com/


Product Description

Review

There is something entirely Irish about her writing: fresh, daring, curious and blazingly beautiful. Whatever she turns her bright eye on comes alive: the soft wild country of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, old half-remembered stories, and the pattern of life in rural Ireland. As you read on you begin to believe that you own the house on the hillside, that you are part of the smoky circle of musicians, that the seaweed you spread on the earth will produce a fine crop of potatoes. Wise, funny and touching, this book is a portrait of friendships, customs and folklore of Ireland; but what stays with you is harder to catch, like smoke or running water. It is the taste of something we all once knew, ever-present if only you look for it. Completely enchanting. (Joanna Lumley)

I cannot recommend more. Beautifully written - would make anyone want to go to Dingle! (Isle magazine)

Book Description

The story of how one woman's life was transformed by a remarkable house on the Dingle peninsula in Ireland. It's a life-affirming tale of rediscovering lost values and cherishing loved ones and the communities we live in.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tim W on 11 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who loves hearing the positive side to major-life-choices-gone-right, as well as stories rich with history and setting, I couldn't put this book down. Like many of us, Ireland has always held an enchanted place in my heart. For me, this started on a long drive around the Ring of Kerry in a cheap rented car in college. This book not only puts me back into that visual and magical frame of mind, but also tells me why this place is so beautiful, haunting, rugged and inspiring: Its People. Taking a leap and listening to their hearts, Felicity Hayes-McCoy and her husband Wilf made a life change and found themselves living in a place that had called to them for years - a home on the Dingle peninsula in western Ireland. A decision I think we all secretly (or not so secretly) long to make. She then takes us on a journey not only through their own lives, but through the lives of the people who settled there, farmed there, lived there, sang there and still take their instruments down to the pub for a night of music - leaving us compelled to follow in their footsteps to wherever our own Dingle peninsula may be. This is a book for anyone who wants to be inspired to live better and remember what's important; and, for those who just love Ireland, in all of its wild and wonderful forms. And there are many of us.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Daniel Eilon on 10 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a sheer delight. It's a wise and meditative love letter to the Dingle peninsula and its people and its past. Joanna Lumley's review (above) brilliantly catches the spirit of the book and its enchantment. The author has developed a special archeology of local life: she traces the way that the values and aspirations of past generations are still inscribed in the countryside and the stones. Stories and tunes waft into the book accross the eons through the fragile and partial memories of individuals. But this writing shows how resilient the collective memory can be. Oral fragments of thoughts, wishes, myths, courtesies and past kindnesses are carried by the songs, the sayings, the homes, the worn paths, the recipes, the cups of tea, some strands of seaweed. She manages to capture in print some of the best of Ireland's unique character.
Anyone interested in the power of tradition to enhance and enrich everyday life, anyone fascinated by the way a people's culture develops, how each of us is related to our community, our time and our place will love the observations, insights and lyricism of this writing. Curiosity, kindliness, and at times a waspish wit - a delicious combination of flavours!
Reading this gem of a book is truly a sentimental education. I felt so much better equipped to read the sounds, signs and even the silences of the world back west which I went to visit immediately after finishing the book - and the experience was so much enriched by this author's thoughtful and funny perspective. She is deeply appreciative of what she has seen and enjoyed, and this book will be warmly appreciated in turn by its readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By aurelia on 13 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
... and those, who like to become!

Felicity's story conveys in plain and unaffected words the essence of all Irish. Though living in London as a successful actress and author, she - born in Dublin - again and again feels drawn back to her roots and to the place she once visited in her youth as a student of the Irish language and literature - back to Dingle Peninsula, in Irish: Corca Dhuibhne.

There Irish traditions are practised in daily life, strongly influenced by the necessities of nature's roughness at the most western part of Ireland, at the Atlantic Ocean.
Since the author decided to buy a house and settle down also there, she is more and more drawn into the village community during her stays. She learns about people's originality, which is tightly bound to their myths and folktales, also to their ancestor's history that is kept alive in songs and tales. She learns too, that every individual of this community is given the same attention and appreciation, independent of fame and wealth. Even each thing becomes a treasure, whether a washed ashore piece of wood to make a cupboard or a chair of it, or even rushes which are used to plait a seat or make place sets. Every furniture or article in the house reflects the intense colours of the surrounding and often is decorated carefully with symbols and forms.

To read this book means sitting in "Ti Neilli Mhuiris", that is in "The House on an Irish Hillside" by the fire in the kitchen, enjoying a mug of strong Irish tea and buttered brown soda bread while listening to Felicity's memories. At once she leads us on to her way, showing us the art not to loose contact to ourselves in this noisy busy world but to remember where we originally come from and to value the really important things of life. This is what Felicity managed perfectly.

"The House on an Irish Hillside" is in many respects a book of enrichment!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Readalot on 26 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
Like Felicity Hayes-McCoy, I fell for Corca Dhuibhne in Kerry when I arrived in Dún Chaoin at the age of sixteen, courtesy of a scholarship via a builder who got the contract for the extension to our school in Dublin. My father told me that Kerry people were lovely and so it proved. My Bean an Tí was a delightful person - a 'strong women' like many mentioned in the book - called Liza, sister of the famous sean nós singer, Seán de hÓra, and a singer in her own right. Felicity's book charts two romances, one with the Dingle Peninsula, the other with her English husband Wilf. The book tells the story of how she and Wilf decided to divide their time between their base in London and Tí Neillí Mhuiris in the Kerry Gaeltacht and, in the process, discovered a new life and a 'connectedness' with a landscape, its people, and their stories. Wilf is a dashing DIY hero, and the pair display an impressive single-mindedness and dedication to living their dream. The locals show great kindness, help and advise them, and invite them into their lives. Felicity's passion for this place shows as she describes various scenarios. I particularly enjoyed their misadventure with cleaning the chimney. The tone of the book is upbeat but, for me, the most affecting passages are where she describes their difficult search for an apartment in London, while simultaneously undertaking the backbreaking task of extending their Kerry home, and realising that it was all too much! This a great book, a heartwarming testament to a spirit of community and neighbourliness, and a reminder of what the human spirit is capable of.
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