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on 11 December 2017
I loved this trilogy of books. Very interesting portrayal of Irish history. I am now a firm fan of Walter Macken. He brings his many and varied characters to life with his clever story-telling and turns of phrase. If you have any Irish ancestry, his books will delight.
I intend to read all of his books.
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on 11 June 2014
Excellent product book is one of a trilogy, this writer draws you into the period of time he is writing about. I would recommend this book and the other two books to any readers. Well done Amazon
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VINE VOICEon 5 July 2004
Walter Macken, a native of Galway, was born in 1915 and died in his home city at the age of 51. A writer, an actor and a playwright, he is perhaps best known for his novel "Flight of the Doves" - which was adapted for the cinema - and his "Irish Trilogy". "The Silent People" is the second book of this trilogy, and is set in the early to mid Nineteenth Century. Although the book itself is a work of fiction, many of the 'background' events are true - for example, the Great Famine (1845 - 1849) and the actions of Daniel O'Connell.
The book follows the life of Dualta Duane and opens in 1826. Dualta, orphaned when his own family died in the 1817 famine, is seventeen and lives with his Uncle Marcus. They live in small village, in the Corrib Country of County Galway. However, after Dualta topples the landlord's son from his horse in anger, the pair are forced to separate and flee. The consequences of staying would, most likely, have seen Dualta beaten to within an inch of his life and transported to Australia. Managing to escape those hunting him, Dualta is briefly sheltered by a man called Máirtin and later travels onwards with Máirtin's son, Paidi. Together, they move southwards and seek work as diggers. Dualta, promising Paidi he'll keep in touch, is hired by a man called Cuan McCarthy. His work, however, doesn't involve digging and the next time he sees Paidi the circumstances are less than happy.
As the story progresses, several further characters are introduced. The most significant, to Dualta at least, is Una - the daughter of an English landlord called Wilcocks. While her father had been a Protestant, her mother had been an Irish Catholic who converted to marry him. It would have been a very unusual marriage in those times - however, Una's mother died when she was thirteen. Daniel O'Connell, a hugely important figure in Irish history and responsible for bringing Catholic Emancipation, also appears in this book.
There's an implication that Dualta may be a descendent of Dominick MacMahon. Dominick was the central character of "Seek the Fair Land", the first book of this Trilogy. (The third is called "The Scorching Wind", and is set in the early 1900s). Although a trilogy, it isn't necessary to read the books in order - though if you enjoy one of them, you'll probably enjoy all three. "The Silent People" isn't always a cheerful book - it's set during a very difficult period of Ireland's history. However, it's a book I would highly recommend - I've always found anything Walter Macken has written very easy to read.
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on 10 August 2005
Walter Macken is Ireland's favorite historical novelist. Any Irish person questioned has read at least one of his works, years ago.
According to the cover, The Silent People is the second part of Macken's brilliant trilogy of the dark years in Irish history. Fortunately, there's nothing to stop a newcomer from joining the saga at this novel's page 1, and walk away with a feeling of completion at the close of 346.
In a shell too nutty, Macken's The Silent People follows a young Irish countryman from rural Connemara in 1826 throughout his contacts with all the major events, persons and themes of the Irish history's next twenty years. As is proper, conflict sets the pages turning. Dualta is pronounced Jewel-ta, but there's nothing feminine about the way our hero stands up for himself and unhorses the landlord's wicked, horse-whip lashing son into the deepest pile of manure on the street.
Macken is accessible. There's no subtlety encountered during the first sixty pages. Bad guys wear high-topped hunting hats, pulled low to shade all but the evil glint in their highborn eye. Action-packed good guys wear flat white caps- or, devil take 'em- are too impoverished by their oppressors to afford headgear at all. Young adult readers will have no difficulty being engaged or- this is a compliment- moved.
Upton Sinclair's The Jungle distilled exactly such injustice to become a classic. That's an exception. To its further credit, Macken's novel raises questions and not just an outcry. One of Dualta's missions, six months after joining the rebels, is complicated when the economic enemy they are burning out bravely makes a fair defense of his actions, before being whacked into unconsciousness. Huh! Dualta then commits to the most dangerous undercover work, as a Trojan Horse within the manor house of the evil landlord himself. Preconceptions are challenged when the landlord proves to be a hard man, but fair. Dualta takes a shine to him. Shinier yet is the landlord's beautiful, spirited daughter.
The Silent People is a worthy read. Sure, it covers the country in an unlikely portrait from rural West to squalid Dublin. Major historical figures like Daniel O'Connell are encountered on mountainsides, swiftly delivering monologues encompassing their philosophies and current dilemmas to the main-character absolute strangers. Whose names O'Connell remembers twenty years later, off the top of his head. It's a historical novel. Leon Uris is guilty of the same, and it can be argued that even Booker-prize winning Peter Carey presents the same Irish love of land and brutal tragedies with no less horror and ambiguity. This is history made human, all sides of the argument visited at least briefly and with an entertaining romantic subplot.
Fave Bit: the secret to successful education is the teacher's right to smack students. First published 1962! There's history.
After the requisite religious, cultural, economic, political, literary and agricultural issues are addressed, it's time for the climactic Famine. Hunger, disease, injustice, crime, emigration, and death are capably revealed. There's no way to airbrush the devastation of this event. Left thus without stupid jokes, I have nothing to say and must bow to Macken's treasured novel. Read it for yourself, question it, discuss it. You'll have the starting point for an understanding of subjects deeper.
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on 16 June 2014
The story brings life to Irish history and the hardship of life in mid 19th century. The characters are almost life like.
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on 27 January 2013
I bought this as a present for someone who had a deep interest in the Irish Famine. I had already read it years ago and knew it was pretty much what she was looking for. Delivery was fast and the book nwas in good condition. Am well Pleased
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on 30 May 2016
read this a few times,brilliant historical storytelling.makes the blood rise and tears flow, highly recommended along with the rest of the trilogy
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on 2 February 2017
Heart in mouth all the time as so engrossed in the lives of the protagonists.
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on 23 April 2015
Brilliantly evocative and emotive. A great read.
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on 2 April 2015
Loved this second book as much as the first one.
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