6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2012
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. The book is a fine evocation of the period and the life of a navvy at that time, harsh but comparatively well rewarded and certainly in the Author's view infinitely preferable to be moving around working outside than to be trapped in some dull repetitve factory job.Nothing dramatic happens and the story does not rise to an great conclusion but it is well written and a great record of one man's experiences.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2011
Not read this myself yet but Dad who came over and worked on the buildings in the 60's loved it. He knew some of the people and the places. So if you're buying this for someone who frequented North London in the 60's I would say crack on