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O Come Ye Back to Ireland: Our First Year in County Clare
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O Come Ye Back to Ireland: Our First Year in County Clare

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3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  502 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews

Niall and Christine left their careers in New York City for a simpler, more authentic life in a cottage outside the tiny village of Kilmihil in County Clare.

"Their tale is a delightful romance."-The New York Times Book Review

Hardcover, 233 pages
Published September 2nd 1987 by Soho Press (first published 1987)
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Colleen
Feb 11, 2012 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
O Come Ye Back to Ireland by Niall Williams and Christine Breen is an engaging memoir about the couple's first year in County Clare, Ireland. They moved to the quiet, rural setting from their busy, urban lives in New York City. The book recounts their losses and their revelations during the year and everything the learned along the way. It almost made me pick up and move to my own little oasis in Ireland . . . almost.

Christine Breen is the American born daughter of Irish parents attending Univer
...more
Charlene
Apr 13, 2016 Charlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such fun to read, partially because I'm planning a trip to Ireland soon. I do like memoirs, particularly ones that deal with "ordinary life" albeit in an unusual place (a stone cottage in western, very rural Ireland). Authors are talented and come across as very likeable and so are the Irish neighbors in the book. Hardships are not glossed over (neither is the weather!) but there's happiness in the book as the young authors establish their lives away from their previous home in New York ...more
Lexish
Jul 03, 2008 Lexish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was almost escapist for me. =) Though it sounds very cliche to say that this is a book about a couple from Manhattan who return to their families' native rural region in Ireland, it's so much quieter and nicer than that. The picture the authors paint is certainly not all rosy--trying to cut the sod, keep the farm going, raise animals, and in general keep life going turns out to be much more in depth than the couple ever thought. It was interesting to see how the authors' viewpoint had ...more
Lia
Oct 24, 2015 Lia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting to read about the differences between a hectic life in 1980s New York and the rustic ways of coastal County Clare. The life of the two authors is what I imagined my life would be like when I graduated high school -I'll meet some artistic Irishman who takes me back to his home country and I spend the rest of my life raising sheep and growing flowers.
Autumn
Sep 28, 2008 Autumn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book. A couple leaves their jobs in NYC and moves to Ireland in the 80's. We're talking rural Ireland. Farms, burning peat to heat the house, some people with no electricity or phones... It's a memoir, not a novel. I love books about Ireland. I love that people there tell stories as a national pastime. There's a lyricism and beauty and can you tell I want to move there? Anyway, it's great to read a first hand account of outsiders who find a place where things move more slowly, ...more
Sherri
Jan 28, 2016 Sherri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was destined for a 1 or 2 star rating for the first half. I felt as if I were reading a book written by a couple of very spoiled, whiny kids. Not what I wanted out of it. It picked up tremendously for the second half. I would almost recommend it...almost.
Katie
Apr 01, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gentle, tender kind of narrative. Memoir of the authors (husband and wife each write parts) who left NYC in 1985ish to take up the rural life of County Clare, Ireland. Painters/writers, novice farmers, they chronicle their struggles and adjustments honestly and sweetly. Oh the endless rain, the ruined garden, the amusing tale of Niall (husband) attending "farmer school." I really liked it.
Maura
Mar 26, 2015 Maura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having visited the west of Ireland, I enjoyed reading about day to day life there as experienced by a couple of newcomers. This book was written about 20 years before my visit, so the standard of living in much of the West has changed markedly. But I remember our guide telling us as we drove through the mountains on the Ring of Kerry that the area was the last in the country to get electric service, and it hadn't been so many years before. In the book, the authors manage to avoid much of the rom ...more
Jina Howell-Forbes
A very slow moving story. I had a hard time finishing it. I like stories about the difficulties of rural farm life, and stories about Ireland are usually very special. But I found no reason to like these characters, hard as I tried. I wanted to care what happened to them. I did. But the true-life story was just not interesting. It just plodded on and on.
Swgreen
May 19, 2012 Swgreen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for those interested in Ireland. A very personal, well written part one of a trilogy of Niall and Christine's return to her family's home and landscape. Having travelled to Ireland many times over the past 30 years, I am still learning from this book.
Roberta
Sep 25, 2014 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I read As it is in Heaven, a novel by Niall Williams, a few years back and really loved his story and his style. This book is a memoir of Niall and his wife moving to a farm in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. It's real, not sugar coated in any way, detailing their struggles and occasional despair. The timing was terrible. They arrived during one of the wettest years ever and that is saying a lot in Ireland. The conditions were primitivie. What shines out for me is the values they brou ...more
Rebecca
Apr 27, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved every book they wrote in this charming series of a couple that moved from New York to Ireland and the accompanying social/culture shocks. Funny and very entertaining.
Heather Adkins
Mar 15, 2010 Heather Adkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland, favorites
Phenomenal writing. As someone who yearns to live in Ireland, this story of an American/Irish couple moving to County Clare and learning to farm was moving.
Kathy Kayser-konig
Thus was very enjoyable and a must-read for anyone wanting to know more about the REAL Ireland. A bit dated but still a lovely adventure.
Heather
Jul 05, 2011 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book about my dream...leaving it all behind to start a farm in Ireland!
Sunny
After you read about the cold, damp, and truly ever present rain, not to mention two young idealists trying to manage with too little money, you will be amazed they stuck it out after this first difficult year. The romance here was in their hearts and souls, the experiences themselves were not so romantic. I remain impressed with how they toughed it out, turning a somewhat miserable start into an amazing life, happy family and warm home. Now that shows spine!
Julie O'Leary
Apr 01, 2014 Julie O'Leary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This recollection of a young Irish American moving to rural western Ireland in the mid 1980's (pre-internet days :-)) & try to build a new self sustainable life while becoming fully immersed in their traditional western Irish community was written with humor & a bit of self-deprecating wit. This was a real quick heartwarming read -very identifiable to me as an American living in a foreign country!
Della O'Shea
Oct 15, 2013 Della O'Shea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this in a couple of days. Loved the first-person narrative chapters by Niall, inter-laced with journal entries written by Christine.
I cared about them and the neighbors, family members and village folk depicted in the first year of their dream of quitting the New York
rat-race and settling into the Breen cottage in Co. Clare, West Ireland, Christine's ancestral home. I'm delighted to see that subsequent
books follow the story forward through adoption of two children and travel around the coun
...more
Hope
Apr 29, 2015 Hope rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a WONDERFUL book! I loved it! It was like settling back into a comfy chair with a mug of hot tea for a visit and chat with old friends. We reminisced about shared places we've visited, hardships and joys and the indomitable spirit of the farming man. *happy sigh* What a delightful visit! :-)
Douglas Reid
Sep 12, 2014 Douglas Reid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable read, especially for those of us who are considering or have visited Ireland and would like to know more about the people and their daily life. Loved the description of the New Years party and the story of their hardships in adjusting to life in Ireland and especially trying to make a living on a small farm.
Edie Folta
Jul 01, 2016 Edie Folta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book about a couple making a home on a farm in a small village in Co. Clare in the 1980's. Pre-internet, pre-cellphone, it was pretty remote. A good read about village and farm life for these newbies.
Elizabeth Marcus
I loved reading the story of Niall Williams and Christine Breen, who left their jobs and home in NYC to live in rural Ireland. Though they both had relatives in the country and had visited there several times, it was extremely difficult getting used to the old house into which they moved, the way things ran, growing crops, cutting turf and farming, among other tasks. I got a real sense of the region's people and history, and knowing what true Irish hospitality meant in tough times. The book was ...more
Shannon
Jun 23, 2016 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent way to understand western Ireland, especially while and after visiting there. The story is told very well and gave me an extra appreciation for what I had just witnessed on my travels. I love the neighborly values the western Irish have and have tried to bring just a tad more of that into my life as a result, inspired by sharing such love!
Julie Schmidt
I read this as we're considering moving from the US to western Ireland and thought this couple's experience would be helpful. However they decided to go into farming and try to live as their ancestors had, and they were in a much more remote area than we plan to live in, so I personally didn't connect. Also, because it's set in the 80s, I felt some of the information about relocating was dated. However there were nice, sweet stories about their interactions with the neighbors. It just wasn't wha ...more
Tim
Aug 21, 2012 Tim rated it liked it
I have had this oddly shaped paperback since Lil was at Philly Mag in the late ’80s. It has some odd light brown stain across some of the pages, like tea or potpourri juice. An Irishman and his Irish-American wife chuck New York and move to the western coast of Ireland in the mid-’80s, old house blah, small farm blah, writing painting blah. Not bad for the genre, and in fact entertaining enough (and honest enough about the struggles, so unlike the “rich guy moves to country and surrenders to the ...more
Chris Keswick
Engaging. I loved meeting all the wonderful, generous people in this little rural hamlet.
John Hellman
Apr 28, 2015 John Hellman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charming details of a American/ Irish couple moving to the west coast of Ireland. Worth the read!
Kara
Jan 14, 2012 Kara rated it really liked it
Wonderful book. Niall & Christine meet at University in Dublin, he a Dubliner & she an American. They move to America and begin the typical non-life of working in New York. They wake early to catch the train, work all day, then have another long ride home. They are lucky to finish dinner before falling asleep & starting all over again. When a relative in Ireland leaves Christine's family a cottage in county Clare - they take it. And so the adventure begins. While they may not be much ...more
Hope
Dec 21, 2014 Hope rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a WONDERFUL book! I loved it! It was like settling back into a comfy chair with a mug of hot tea for a visit and chat with old friends. We reminisced about shared places we've visited, hardships and joys and the indomitable spirit of the farming man. *happy sigh* What a delightful visit! :-)
Sandy
Nov 17, 2014 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
A fun story of a married couple from Manhattan who go to Ireland to farm...living in an old house built hundreds of years ago with all its drafts and no central heat; the fact that the telephone takes three months to get installed and its a crank phone that goes through an operator; plus the rain, rain, rain its a good story. They wrote the book after being there for thirty years, so they made it!
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Niall Williams studied English and French Literature at University College Dublin and graduated with a MA in Modern American Literature. He moved to New York in 1980 where he married Christine Breen. His first job in New York was opening boxes of books in Fox and Sutherland's Bookshop in Mount Kisco. He later worked as a copywriter for Avon Books in New York City before leaving America with Chris ...more
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