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The Rat-Pit [Paperback]

Patrick MacGill
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.93
Price: 11.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

12 Sep 2013
This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can usually download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1915 edition. Excerpt: ... CHAPTER VIII THE TRAGEDY OFTEN a youth leaves Donegal and goes out into the world, does well for a time, writes frequently home to his own people, sends them a sum of money in every letter (which shows that he is not a spendthrift), asking them for a little gift in return, a scapular blessed by the priest, or a bottle of water from the holy well (which shows that he has not forgotten the faith in which he was born) ; but in the end he ceases to write, drops out of the ken of his people and disappears. The father mourns the son for a while, regrets that the usual money-order is not forthcoming, weeps little, for too much sentiment is foreign to the hardened sensibilities of the poor; the mother tells her beads and does not fail to say one extra decade for the boy or to give a hardearned guinea to the priest for masses for the gasair's soul. Time rapidly dries their tears of regret, their sorrow disappears and the more pressing problems of their lives take up their whole interests again. In later years they may learn that their boy died of fever in a hospital, or was killed by a broken derrick-jib, or done to death by a railway train. "Them foreign parts were always bad," they may say. "Black luck be with the big boat, for it's few it takes back of the many it takes away!" A year had passed by since James Ryan last heard from Fergus his son. No word came of the youth, and none of the Prosses people, great travellers though the young of Frosses were, had ever come across him in any corner of the world. "We are missing the blue pieces of paper," Mary Ryan said to her husband one evening in the late autumn, fully three years after Fergus's departure. She now spent her days sitting at the fire, and though her health was not the best it had...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 84 pages
  • Publisher: (12 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1230302336
  • ISBN-13: 978-1230302331
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,157,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and powerful 5 Nov 2011
Tells the heartbreaking story of Norah Ryan from her childhood in Donegal to her descent into prostitution and early death at age 22 in Glasgow. Macgills hatred of the role of the Catholic church in the lives of the Irish poor in eighteenth and early nineteenth century Ireland is clearly conveyed and powerfully supported in the subject matter of this tale. However do not be deceived as this is not a political novel but simply a beautifully written story of lost innocence and betrayal which deserves a wider readership. I have long considered Macgill to be one of the greatest(and most unsung) of all Irish writers and urge all who have the chance to read his work.Perhaps Kindle could help by making his work available for free on the Kindle.(just a suggestion). Read, weep and marvel at why you've never heard of Patrick Macgill. Apologies and well done if you have!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The rat pit - Patrick MacGill 21 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Genius. Truly captured the pain and suffering, the ignorance and deference and the sense of purity and kindness amongst the despair.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Rat-Pit Patrick MacGill 13 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is amazing.
I can't add to the reviews already written however, except to agree with a suggestion that Patrick MacGill's books should be available free on Kindle.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Irish Genius 26 Jan 2000
By Henry Mcvey - Published on
Absolutely the most tragic heartbreaking tale i have ever read.A starkly evocative description of irish rural life,a story of lost love and innocence betrayed, set almost a century ago.Find it,read it,and weep at the storytelling of this great unsung author.Magnificent.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening 19 Dec 2005
By Justice - Published on
This was a touching tale about the terrible working conditions suffered by the Irish poor around the time of WWI. I learned a lot from MacGill about the plight of Irish immigrant labor at this time. MacGill's socialist politics inspired him to tell this sentimental yet realistic story of an exploited and poverty-stricken woman.

Norah Ryan is a beautiful young girl who finds survival in early twentieth century Ireland and Britain extremely difficult. In Ireland everyone is hungry and poor and worked to the bone (although her community is spirited and hospitable and willing to open their doors to needy neighbors) but in Scotland it is even worse.

Forced to become a potato digger there, Norah is taken advantage of by a Scottish middle-class "intellectual", son of the man who owns the farm she works on, whose pretentions to care about the laboring classes are mocked and derided by MacGill. MacGill does a good job of showing the ways in which power, class, and sexual access intertwine and how vulnerable a poor and naive adolescent girl of the laboring class would be in such a situation.

There is also a sweet love story in this book, and although as a lover of novels from the late-nineteenth to early twentieth century I am very familiar with this kind of story (tragic fall from grace of a woman who "gets into trouble"), the political and historical aspects of this novel gave it new life and interest for me. It was very moving and rich in historical detail.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read 26 Jan 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
The book is set in early twentieth century Ireland and Scotland where poverty runs unchecked among the lower working class of good people. Norah Ryan is an intelligent, beautiful and God fearing girl. I expected her to prevail over the misfortunes of her life, and to a degree she did until starvation became a killer. She worked hard in the potato fields in Scotland. Her demise began when she gave her body to a well off fellow that she loved. She became pregnant and he became gone. Her sin drug her to the miseries of hell on earth. The Original Sin it was called. Her spirit was lifted when the child was born, but was snuffed out when the child became ill and she went to the streets to earn money for the child's medical care. The child died and Norah Ryan spent the remainder of her life grieving.

I liked the way the author made Norah's feelings my feelings. When she made extra money by hard work, she and I breathed easier. When she went to confession, my soul was cleansed. When she took to the streets, I understood why we had no other choice. When the original sin occurred, we were separated. From the outside looking in, I knew she had made a bad life altering choice for us.
Thank you to the author for a good read.
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