From the Great Blasket to America: The Last Memoir by an Islander

From the Great Blasket to America: The Last Memoir by an Islander

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1848891652

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Mike Carney was born on The Great Blasket Island off the southwest of Ireland in 1920. Raised under challenging circumstances in that unique, isolated Irish-speaking community, Mike left in 1937 to seek a better future in Dublin and eventually in America. Ten years later, the death on the island of his younger brother set off a chain of events that led to its evacuation. Mike eventually settled in Springfield, Massachusetts, with other former islanders. While taking advantage of opportunities offered by his adopted country, he never lost his love for the nation of his birth. This is the story of his life and his efforts to promote Irish culture in America, to preserve the memory of The Great Blasket, to respect roots left behind, and to set down roots in a new land.

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place where they really didn’t know anybody other than their friends and relations. So they wound up living in only a couple of places. Some islanders went to England, Canada, and Australia too. After the war, those countries needed young men to replace those that didn’t come back. They were short of labour. They were looking for immigrants, and the young islanders were looking for opportunities. The result was that the population on the island steadily diminished over the years. And the people

famous fiddle from the island and Springfield. (L–r) Jack Kane, Joanne Jacob, Mary Kane and Larry Kane. After another couple of years of working in America, my father came back to the island for good. This time, he came back because he maintained that he had a stomach problem and the food in America did not agree with him. My father had some form of a stomach ulcer. He was always complaining of a ‘gastrated’ stomach. But on the island, the food was home-cooked and it was totally agreeable to my

claimed they thought it was Belfast in the night sky. Later, Churchill admitted that the British had interfered with the Luftwaffe’s radar, resulting in the confusion. Some Dubliners were killed in Fairview near Malloy’s where I was staying at the time. We also had food rationing in Ireland during the war. Certain basic food items got scarce, like flour, eggs, butter and wheat. Ireland was neutral in the war because of the ongoing troubles with Britain. But we did not want to support Germany

island. When we got into the island, poor Seán, I couldn’t look at him. He was lying dead on the bed in my father’s bedroom. He had been dead for three days. Cáit had cleaned him up, washed his body with soap and water, and dressed him up, but decomposition had already started to set in. Everybody was crying. We put Seán in the coffin and nailed the lid shut. There was no wake; there was no time. The lifeboat was waiting. We then went back to Dingle on the lifeboat with Seán’s body in the

Was it ever hot! Our apartment was up under the flat roof of the building where the hot sun beat down all day and there was no air conditioning to give us some relief. We quickly moved to 117 Mooreland Street. It was a bigger and nicer first-floor apartment in a two-family house, right next to my aunt Brigit who was married to my uncle Maurice. Yes, my aunt on my mother’s side got married to my uncle on my father’s side – they were no relation. We got our first television set when we lived on

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