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Children of the Dead End

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4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  60 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
Written as fiction, this text is Patrick MacGill's autobiography. Starting with an account of his childhood in Ireland at the end of the 19th century, the story moves to Scotland where, tramp then gang-labourer then navvy, Dermond Flynn (as he sometimes calls himself) discovers himself as a writer.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 1st 1999 by Dufour Editions (first published February 17th 1972)
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Linda Robinson
Jul 01, 2015 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing
Born in Ireland, sent to Scotland by his family to work potatoes, Dermod Flynn labors and fights his way through work seasons, sleeping outdoors or 3 abed in a leaky room, sending his sub home to his demanding mother as more babies come along. The brutal life of a navvy, day laborer is cushioned by the lyrical prose MacGill applies to his, and our, wounds. He finds pride in what's left to him: a hammer or fist blow well-placed, and compassion for his fellows and the girl from home robbed of a fu ...more
Richard
Feb 25, 2010 Richard rated it really liked it
A rare story of a desperately poor Donegal family set at the fag-end of the 19th century. So poor indeed that they have to send out 12 year old Dermod to a hiring fair where he is hired out to a brutish farmer for a period of 6 months. The family rely on Dermod's regular remittances to pay for their rent & food.
Eventually Dermod decides to take the boat over to Scotland to work as part of a potato-picking crew. The story continues with the harsh, hand-to-mouth existence of his travels and th
...more
Sorrento
Mar 30, 2016 Sorrento rated it it was amazing
Patrick MacGill wrote his autobiographical novel just before the first world war. He captures the authentic speech and thoughts of an ordinary labouring man Dermod Flynn and his mates. The story follows the struggles of Dermod to survive first in the Irish village of his birth and then in Scotland. He begins as an agricultural labourer doing back breaking poorly paid work such as potato picking (I only tried this once as a student & found it v tough). He then finds a friend Moleskin Joe who ...more
Ian
Dec 16, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it
This is a book that I had long meant to read. Part of the author's story took place in the village of Kinlochleven about 20 miles from where I live, so the book tends to feature on the shelves of local bookshops in my area. It is one of those "fictionalized autobiographies" that are neither quite one or the other. In his introduction, the author advises that the book is an autobiography and that all the major incidents happened under his direct observation, but asks for "a little license for the ...more
Hoyadaisy
Jun 25, 2015 Hoyadaisy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Autobiography under cover of fiction. Poor boy sent from Ireland to earn money in Scotland for his family. Works at everything from harvesting potatoes to laying railroad tracks, and tramps along with nothing in between. Along the way, he falls in love with books, and eventually becomes a reporter.

I'm amazed that this book isn't more widely available. (Gutenberg.org should be sharing it shortly.) It's excellent--engaging, well-paced, and filled with important and interesting stories.
Lesleyann Anderson
May 25, 2015 Lesleyann Anderson rated it really liked it
Although a story rich in image and description I did find it a tad depressing.
This man led such a sad life with many of his talents going to waste from an early age due to lack of education and social advantages.
How many equally great writers are hidden in today's socially deprived areas we'll never know.
Henry
Jul 03, 2014 Henry rated it it was amazing
I
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Patrick MacGill (24 December 1889 – November 1963) was an Irish journalist, poet and novelist, known as "The Navvy Poet" because he had worked as a navvy before he began writing.

MacGill was born in Glenties, County Donegal. A statue in his honour is on the bridge where the main street crosses the river in Glenties.

During the First World War, MacGill served with the London Irish Rifles (1/18th Batt
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