Synopses & Reviews
Here at last is one Irish family's epic journey, capturing the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience. In a rousing tale that echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family, inhabiting a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations. Selling both their catch — and their crops — to survive, these people subsist on the potato crop — their only staple food. But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees in one of the greatest rescues in human history: the Irish Emigration to America. Danger and hardship await them there. Honora and her unconventional sister Maire watch their seven sons as they transform Chicago from a frontier town to the City of the Century, fight the Civil War, and enlist in the cause of Ireland's freedom. The Kelly clan is victorious. This heroic story sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today's 44 million Irish Americans.
In the author's colorful and eclectic life, she has written and directed award-winning documentaries on Irish subjects, as well as the dramatic feature Proud. She's been an associate producer on Good Morning America and Saturday Night Live, written books on Martin Scorsese, World War II, and Bosnia, and a novel based on her experiences as a former nun — Special Intentions. She is a frequent contributor to Irish America Magazine and has a PhD in English and Irish literature.
"In this scattered retelling of her own family's struggles during the Great Irish Starvation, Kelly captures the suffering but neglects the inner lives of her thinly drawn characters. In Bearna, Ireland, in 1839, Honora Keeley falls in love with Michael Kelly after finding him swimming in Galway Bay, and they soon marry despite her father's objections. For a short time, life, while far from perfect, is sweet. Then comes the blight, destroying most of their potato crop. After losing the harvest for the third time in four years, the Kellys flee to America and settle in Chicago. Though the research is meticulous and the famine horrors are catalogued in great detail, the Kellys' lives in America are presented haphazardly, making it difficult to keep track of the huge cast of characters when decades are skipped seemingly at random. The characters themselves function more as types greedy landlords, arrogant Englishmen to further the plot. Despite its flaws, the novel may appeal to fans of Frank McCourt and Irish history, as the trials of the Kelly family echo the struggle of the Irish to assimilate while retaining their own heritage." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A vividly lavish historical novel. Through the eyes of the extended Kelly clan, the reader is treated to a panoramic overview of the Irish American experience."--Booklist
"[Will] appeal to fans of Frank McCourt and Irish History."--Publishers Weekly
"After reading her novel, Galway Bay, you might wonder if Mary Pat Kelly knows everything about 19th century Ireland, the Great Famine, and the emigrant experience in America. But it's her exploration of the human heart that moves you. Against landscapes beautiful and bleak she brings her characters to unforgettable life. As they say in Ireland, 'Take your ease with this book.' You'll need time for laughter and tears and pure magic."--Frank McCourt, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of ANGELA'S ASHES
In a rousing tale that echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family. So begins one Irish family's epic journey, in this novel that captures the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience.
In a hidden Ireland
where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family. Because they and their countrymen must sell both their catch and their crops to pay exorbitant rents, potatoes have become their only staple food.
But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees--victims saving themselves--in the emigration from Ireland.
Danger and hardship await them in America. Honora, her unconventional sister Máire, and their seven sons help transform Chicago from a frontier town to the "City of the Century." The boys go on to fight in the Civil War and enlist in the cause of Ireland's freedom.
Spanning six generations and filled with joy, sadness, and heroism, GALWAY BAY sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today's forty-four million Irish Americans--and is a universal story you will never forget.
About the Author
Mary Patricia Kelly is the author of a novel Special Intentions, and nonfiction on subjects as varied as Martin Scorsese and the rescue of Scott O'Grady from Bosnia. In her life, she has been everything from a nun to a documentary filmmaker to a producer of short films for "Saturday Night Live". She lives in New York City.