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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

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  398 ratings  ·  46 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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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
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
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
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.
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.
The fantasy of escaping hectic city streets and moving to the quiet of the countryside has been something that I have often thought of doing. This book gave me the opportunity of trying out that life without having to pack a thing. Not sure now that I want to try this life, but glad I had a chance to experience some of it.

It is also a very well told story, poetic in tone and one which transported me to that place and time. There are the occasional Irish language phrase which was easily understoo
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.
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 Coday
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
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.
A book about my dream...leaving it all behind to start a farm in Ireland!
Julie Oleary
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
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
Douglas Reid
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.
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
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
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
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! :-)
A fun story of a married couple from Manhattan who go to Ireland to 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!
If your family history has folks from the west of Ireland, you want to read this book. I have visited the Aran Islands, County Clare and County Galway and this book took me right back to those times. This book details the people and places of western Clare and tells what life was like in 1985 which is how life also was for 100 years before that. I highly recommend this book.
This book reminds me of another similar memoir I read while I was living in France about an English couple who move to the Languedoc region of France and build a home. It has all that you might expect: culture shock, bizarre natives, misadventures galore. There's also an element of the Nearings in their desire to live "simply." It was enjoyable, but not groundbreaking.
A lovely, touching book that is written so you can almost feel the rain falling. A collaboration between the two of them, the chapters are interspersed with snippets from their journals. I love Ireland and have been to a number of the places they describe here... it brings the beauty of Ireland back.
I stayed in County Clare for a couple of weeks in the summer of 2011, so this memoir had extra meaning for me. A couple moves from New York to a rural area in Western Ireland. Sounds lovely, but the authors are honest about the challenges they faced. This book made me miss Ireland very much.
Love, love, love, love this nonfiction book about an Irish-American couple who move back to the old country. Highly recommended and possibly out of print...Abebooks here I come! I gave my copy to the library and now I want it back! Great fun to read.
This was a pretty good book. It was about an American couple who moved to rural Ireland to live a different life. The wife's family is from there, so they had a crib to live in. They adjusted and learned to live a simpler life. Good book!
Deirdre Keating
Jul 07, 2008 Deirdre Keating rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deirdre by: Mr Scott
Shelves: memoir
Love when I come across a title here I had otherwise forgotten. Mr. Scott recommended this book to me,(2000?) and I remember enjoying it, not especially due to the writing but because I got to live vicariously through the young couple.
Feb 27, 2007 Leah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Ireland, especially if you are going there
Loved this book! It's a wonderful look on living in rural Ireland from the point of view of a native Irishman married to a woman from New York and how they renovate a run down cottage and try to live off the land.
This was my second go round with Niall and Christine, and again it was worth the read. If you love anything about Irish culture this is a must read. A very personal look at life in the west of Ireland.
I didn't find this book terribly interesting. I don't know a lot about farming and reading about two regular people who decided to change their lives didn't really interest me.
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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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