About the book:
One family’s epic journey captures both the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience—and echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself …
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 children 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.
"Epic" is the first word I would use to describe Galway Bay. The words "rich" and "lyrical" would follow. Mary Pat Kelly fully captures the tragedy and triumph of the 19th century Irish emigration.
Michael and Honora Kelly, young newlyweds, begin their life together on a small patch of land overlooking Galway Bay. Michael is a bagpiper and blacksmith by trade. He's the owner of a prized racehorse and plans to breed her and sell the colts. Honora's family are hardworking fishermen and she and Michael plant potatoes to feed their family and pay the required rents to their English landlords.
The plight of the Irish is well-documented. The English, who came in and took over, tried to do all they could to force the proud Irish people from their lands. Their heartless cruelty comes through, and these strong people resist as long as they can. But, after blight kills the potatoes three times in four years, Michael and Honora finally realize they need to leave Ireland for America.
Danger and adventure await them in America as Honora, her sister Maire and their seven sons set forth to find Chicago and Michael's brother, Patrick. The strength of these two women is remarkable and inspiring. Based on the author's great-great-grandmother, Honora's story is one that will captivate you. The Irish people have a strong reputation for storytelling and Galway Bay is the fascinating story of a woman who wants to protect her family and her Irish heritage.
Thanks to Miriam Parker at Hatchette Books and the Early Bird Blog Tour for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Mary Pat Kelly here. You can purchase your own copy of this book here.
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I am having vision issues which is terrifying to someone whose work and interests lie in reading and writing. Because of this, I am falling behind in some of my reviewing commitments and ask for your support and patience.