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To School Through The Fields

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  498 ratings  ·  85 reviews
If ever a voice has caputured the colors, the rhythms, the rich, bittersweet emotions of a time gone by, it is Alice Taylor's. Her tales of childhood in rural Ireland hard back to a timeless past, to a world now lost, but ever and fondly remembered. The colorful characters and joyous moments she offers have made The School Through the Fields in Irish phenomenon, and have m ...more
Paperback, 151 pages
Published February 15th 1994 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  498 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Diane S ☔
One can tell by the cover, which reminds me of the Dick and Jane readers, that this book will probably have a nostalgic feel. It does, a wonderful portrayal of an almost perfect childhood. This takes place in Ireland and includes the author and her family, but also some quirky neighbors. Milking the cows, making jelly, the hens, pigs, cows and goats, planting potatoes, work yes but plenty of time for rich experiences and fun. One thing I had never heard of is the stations, which was mass said in ...more
Diane Barnes
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bedtime-books
This is another of those books I seem to need more of these days, a nostalgic look at a seemingly idyllic childhood growing up on a farm in Ireland in a large family. No politics, no whining, no message, except that life is good if you know how to live it.
Dec 16, 2013 rated it liked it
My mothers favourite book as it reminded her of her childhood.
Reannon Bowen
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Totally delightful book that takes you back to simpler times & make you realise that we complicate life far too much now.
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This is an utterly charming little book. It is very light reading; since each chapter stands alone, it can be picked up at odd moments without losing any feel for the flow. Essentially, it is like listening to someone tell you about the good old days of her youth. In this case, her youth was spent on a farm in Ireland, probably in the 1940s (although she never gives any exact dates). It has an old-timey feel since the farm had no electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. You not only meet ...more
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a book at my parents' house... probably in their collection from my great Aunt Ruth. It was a wonderful collection of short vignettes of the author's childhood in rural Ireland in the time period of the 30's 40's. Really lovely and relaxing, and I will be looking for the others by this author. ...more
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
A simple little book about country life in rural Ireland in the 1950s. I learned many new words and phrases--waiting in the haggard, carried a pike, opened the reek & threw the sheaves, seasoned up the chimney, and many more. Each chapter ended with a poem. They had a hard life but it was shared with lots of family and love.
Corinne Edwards
To School Through the Fields evokes a time and place that don't exist anymore, at least not outside of Alice Taylor's mind. In postwar Ireland, Alice's farm is a tranquil and rhythmic place, where the seasons dictate the daily work and where family is both companionship and fellow laborer. The language is so lovely, the point of view reminding me much of Laura in Little House on the Prairie. We see the work of adults through the eyes of a child, the novelty and familiarity of the tasks that must ...more
More 3 1/2 stars. This is a sweet, simple, relaxing, calm - how many more adjectives can I use - slip of a memoir. Really not a traditional memoir per se, but a collection of short essays (none longer than 10 pages) detailing various parts of her rural Irish childhood in the 1940s. I had no idea how much the 1940s in rural Ireland was like the 1840s! Other than the occasional mention of listening to the radio at night after chores were done, the vibe was very nineteenth century.

There are chapter
Fiona MacDonald
Jun 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charming and witty is what I would describe Alice Taylor's personal account of a year on her family's farm in post-war Ireland. This account conjures up a wonderful nostalgia that is sadly all gone today, but the memories of it are still as fresh and poignant in Alice's mind as they have ever been. Her descriptions of friends, family and farming are sure to put a contented smile on your face. ...more
May 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
No doubt an open account by the author of events around growing up in Ireland in this era.
I cant help though, being influenced by my own life in as similar era.
Was it really that great?
Is there so little you might change for the better?
I wanted more.
2 stars
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A long time ago, I learned an expression that went like this; (such and such person or event) "of happy memory." Well this tale is definitely "of happy memory." A memoir of farm life in Ireland in the late 1930s and 1940s. The author said rather than let some historians of the future try to recreate what life was like, she preferred to set down the life she experienced. While she mentions sadness and hardship, it is by and large extremely positive and upbeat, almost unbelievably so, but perhaps ...more
Carol Bakker
I expected to like this more. Alice Taylor's book is the happy side of growing up in Irish countryside, as opposed to Frank McCourt's miserable childhood in Limerick. But Alice's voice didn't have the melodic turns of phrases that so many Irish writers employ.

Also, the separate vignettes were disjointed; lacking a narrative arc, the book didn't compel me to flutter my fingers and interrupt a conversation with praise for it.
Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting read filled with details of local customs and traditions, although it feels a little idealized.
John Maye
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true reflection of magic days

A most read for anyone who grew up on a small farm in Ireland as in my case in the 1950/60s.
The book is a very true reflection of those golden days of childhood. Of the farm work & characters who lived at that time. Tough time to live for the adults rearing big families with very little money. But self sufficient in many ways because of their hard work. Days now long gone , some would say good riddance because of all the hard work & other wrongs of that era. But mo
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This is a lovely book about Taylor's childhood in rural Ireland. It is an indication of how frankly, backward, Ireland was, that it was impossible for me to figure out when this took place. She was born in 1938 but it could have taken place any time from 1910 to 1950. Her father farmed with horses, they walked to town, and lived in a tight-knit community. The only indication that it was the 20th century was the family owned a radio and therefore must have had electricity, but there wasn't much i ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alice Taylor’s book, To School Through The Fields, is a lovely journey back in time. The author describes her life growing up on a farm in Ireland when horses were the mode of transportation and vital to a farm’s survival. Her loving family worked hard and they struggled but thy were also blessed with a simple and happy life. The stories told were enjoyable and they made me feel nostalgic as I reminisced about my own childhood that was also rich in family love and carefree.
Heidi Daniele
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ireland
Alice Taylor’s To School through the Fields feels like a fantasy. This account of her childhood growing up on a farm in Ireland is pure and simple. I felt transported to a time and place where being present in the moment would fill you with joy. Taylor brings forth the essence of nature and the goodness of living in a simple time and place of basic needs. Her story left me wishing everyone could experience these pleasures.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book which was the biggest best seller in Ireland's history was a trip back in time. My mother and I grew up on farms and this book reminded me of both my mom's stories and my own history. I also found the various Catholic traditions of those days in Ireland very interesting. This was a gentle read. ...more
Roy McCarthy
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well-written memoire that has ridden a wave of Irish nostalgia. The quality and detail of each chapter paints a vivid picture of rural life in the early 1950s. Certainly the author gives the impression that each day was an adventure if you were a child. I wonder if the adults had quite the same take on life? Maybe I'll read her later books and find out. ...more
Christine D
May 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A delightful journey to rural Ireland. This connected me to the family life of her growing up around 1930. This was especially well written. The stories are fun and filled with characters you want to sit and join for a cup of tea.
Especially appreciated her visual writing and sense of place as my Dad grew up in such a setting in Ireland.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great experience of Ireland. This book was given to me by an older woman at her country house B&B near Killarney in 2015. She said it reminder her of her childhood. It brought tears to my eyes several time.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed reading this book, which I read over a day. There was no surprises, no drama, just an eloquent, gentle reminder of how rural life was in the past. Dispersed with personal anecdotes and poetry, I look forward to reading more of the authors work.
Margaret Gerberding
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a charming book! Alice Taylor tells stories from her childhood in Ireland growing up with her brother and sisters in a small village. From holiday stories to tales about school, this was an interesting read.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved how this book transported me to rural Ireland and helped me see what Taylor's childhood was once like! This memoir tells the story of Taylor's family living in County Kerry and gives the reader an up close look at what their daily lives were like. Highly recommended! ...more
Eithne O' Shea
Apr 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant little book about an ideal upbringing in rural Ireland. Makes me wish that times were still like this and that kids had the freedom to live and grow without worry.
Very visual and relaxing.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Stories from growing up in a simple rural setting in Ireland. Charming.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Discription of life on a farm in Ireland in mid 1900's from the view of a young girl. ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
old Ireland of bye gone days wonderfully remembered and told
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Alice Taylor lives in the village of Innishannon in County Cork, in a house attached to the local supermarket and post office. Since her eldest son has taken over responsibility for the shop, she has been able to devote more time to her writing.

Alice Taylor worked as a telephonist in Killarney and Bandon. When she married, she moved to Innishannon where she ran a guesthouse at first, then the supe

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“In the summers we swam in the river and caught minnows with jam pots; on Sunday evenings my father fished in it, bringing home each time a bag of trout. In winter salmon came up to this quiet backwater to spawn and, of course, there was a certain amount of poaching, to which my father objected strongly. Once, when a generous neighbour gave us a present of a poached salmon, he lined us all up around the kitchen table and proceeded to open up the fish. As the eggs poured out he explained about the huge loss of fish life due to the poaching of this one salmon. In my father's world nature possessed a balance and man had no right to upset that balance to satisfy his own greed; killing this fish was going against the laws of nature.” 0 likes
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