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Hungry for Home Leaving the Blaskets A Journey from the Edge of Ireland cover
  • ISBN: 9780141001944
  • ISBN10: 0141001941

Hungry for Home Leaving the Blaskets a Journey from the Edge of Ireland

by Cole Moreton

  • List Price: $14.00
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin USA
  • Publish date: 07/01/2001
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Description
Hungry for Home tells the story of the little-known Blasket Islands, located off the west coast of Ireland. Initially settled in the 13th century by a group of penitent monks, by the 19th and 20th centuries they were the last bastion of purely Celtic language and folklore. In the 1930s, when Eamon de Valera was encouraging Ireland to shrug off British domination, he held up the Blaskets as an example of the "real Ireland" and told everyone to follow suit; to return to Gaelic as the national language and to collective farming as a way of life. But even his infectious idealism couldn't save the Islands which were perhaps, because of certain circumstances, doomed from the beginning.

As a result of their geographic isolation, the families that lived on the Blaskets endured extraordinary hardships as a matter of course: the islands are low and flat, exposing them to all the elements and making farming incredibly difficult; the choppy waters between the islands and the coast of Dingle often made crossing impossible for weeks at a time, cutting residents off from food and medical supplies (starvation was a constant threat, and otherwise healthy people regularly died from the flu). In 1953, after several of the worst years on record, the Irish government stepped in: the Blasket Islands were evacuated, and the 200-odd residents were either resettled on the mainland or chose to emigrate to the United States.

Cole Moreton tells the incredible story of the Blasket Islands though the eyes of one family who had lived there for generations, the Kearneys. In 1946, after the death of one son (from what was probably appendicitis), the Kearneys finally left the Islands. Moreton retraces their steps:to Dingle, where the father and daughter settled (Ceit, the daughter is still alive and has been interviewed extensively for the book); and to Hungry Hill in Springfield Massachusetts, where two Kearney brothers joined countless other recent Irish immigrants.

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