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Tarry Flynn

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  336 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A man's mother can be a terrible burden sometimes. For Tarry Flynn - poet, farmer and lover-from-afar of beautiful young virgins - the responsibility of family, farm, poetic inspiration and his own unyielding lust is a heavy one. The only solution is to rise above all - or escape over the nearest horizon.

Like The Green Fool, his autobiography, Patrick Kavanagh's Tarry Flyn
Paperback, 189 pages
Published September 28th 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1960)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Richard Moss
Tarry Flynn is Patrick Kavanagh's semi-autobiographical novel about life as a young farmer in a small Irish community.

Tarry Flynn is nearing 30, but is still very much at the beck and call of his mother. His life is rooted in the landscape he farms, but is also about the vain pursuit of young women.

This book is also incredibly rooted in its location, and I know that Irish people I have spoken to find it avery evocative and faithful portrait. Although set in the 1930s and 1940s, the rural communi
Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really a fictionalised autobiography, Tarry Flynn is both a loving and critical portrait of rural life in Ireland of the 1930s. Unsentimental books about rural Ireland are definitely more common today, but when Kavanagh was writing they were rare. Rarer still was the book actually critical of the all-powerful institutions of the time, especially of the Church. As such, a contemporary reader of Tarry Flynn might miss some of the power of the book. But, it is a great book, full of beautiful, poeti ...more
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Rarely do you find a book which gives insight into the hopes, fears frustrations aspirations and general worldview of the voiceless, the peasant. Tarry Flynn achieved this.

The world the book depicts is not that long gone, but it is almost entirely gone from Ireland. Nevertheless, anyone with friends or family in Ireland might appreciate this book for the insight it gives into the struggles of their forebears.

Clearly, having ideas, trying to rise up and express what was in your heart, trying to
Aug 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing

Full of earthy wit, colourful characters (Mainly his battleaxe of a mother, his travelling uncle, and his dirty minded neighbour Eusebius) Tarry Flynn is a novel that unravels the role of the church in an insular rural society, the importance of land, land disputes in general, and is also surprisingly raunchy for a 1940s Irish book. My favourite part was the dispute between Tarry and Jimmy Finnegan over two fields, how Tarry gave him one clean punch to floor him, resulting in all kinds of hyster
A. Mary
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish-novels
Sometimes, this book is delightfully funny and its protagonist an agonized combination of farmer, poet, and suitor. He is so repressed and lacking in confidence that in spite of his lustful thoughts, he is powerless to propose a formal courtship, to think a worthy woman would find him a worthy man. On top of that, he doubts the virtue of almost every unmarried woman around. He loves the land and everything about it, and he does work the land, but he's just as likely to wax poetic. His world is h ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish-fiction
catholic power, s€xual repression, small town begrudgery, the dominant matriarch, her son the golden boy... the unrelenting misery! it can only be... ireland in the rare ould times. told with a wry, satirical outlook on people mixed with poetic romanticism regarding the beauty of The Land. funny and tragic.
Laura Daly
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, touching, funny, fantastic, first read this aged 12 and have re read it dozens of times and it still makes me smile. A treasure from a genius.
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-novel
This is classic Kavanagh and anyone who enjoys his poetry will enjoy this. The main character is very similar to Kavanagh, they're both small farmers in isolated rural areas who struggle to relate to other people, while having a poetic love for everything around them. The best part of the book is how Kavanagh accurately captures the way people talk and the turns of phrase they use.

Plot isn't a major part of the book, which is more about the atmosphere of the place. This is deliberate because the
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wonderful picture of a very specific time and place in Irish history. Kavanagh's work is a portrait of loneliness and frustration intermingled with a genuine love for the land.
It's his own A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, an artistic soul struggling to escape his dreary rural life. Timeless in a sense, well worth a read.
Darrell Pendergrass
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Tarry Flynn is not a book for every reader - there's a lot of information/stuff/things that you would know only if you're from Ireland, which I am not. With that said, I enjoyed this story very much. Tarry Flynn is a 20-something young man living with his widowed mother and his sisters, on an unsuccessful farm, in a rural area of Ireland. I believe it's on the eastern side of the country, south of Dublin. He longs for love, and physical affection, but he doesn't know how to find it. Tarry strugg ...more
Gemma Williams
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Patrick Kavanagh's novel is about a feckless young farmer with the soul of a poet who spends his days alternately lusting after and fleeing from the local girls. There's a wonderful contrast between the lyrical passages suffused by real love for the land, and Tarry's petty vanities and schemes. Although on one level it seems odd that the sensitive intelligent poet is also such a clumsy, awkward, dishonest and cowardly young man, on another it makes perfect sense and is totally fitting and rings ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it liked it
When you see that Patrick Kavanagh wrote it you think that the whole book is going to be spent extolling the beauty of fields, bogs potatoes etc..

Which is exactly what it does! But it shows the kind of mindset in rural Ireland in those days, and Tarry's personality is kind of how I imagine Patrick Kavanagh might have been.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing read. kavanagh takes us in to rural life in 1930's with no reservations. He lets loose with poetic prose and black comedy, which makes the whole sorry mess Tarry has to live with, an easier toil. One of my favorite books in ages. ...more
Patrick Taggart
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you weren't Irish or from a rural background I'd imagine this is hard enough to follow, but overall it's a very creatively drawn out account of rural life, in how it seems so unbelievably tedious until suddenly it vanishes, never to be quite the same again.

The ending is excellent too.
Aug 14, 2016 marked it as book-collection  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xattic-26
Irish Independent Great Irish Writers Series
Sep 19, 2019 rated it liked it

So sad it was hard to keep reading it. I got about halfway, saw I would not have time to finish before leaving Toronto, so skipped to the last couple chapters to the end.

Apparently Kavanagh was highly valued as a writer in his day. Some other of his books are said to be very good, but if they are as depressing as this one I don't think I am up to them.

The competition over scarce resources in this time and place is appalling, and the resulting bullying [e.g. of the main character Tarry]. Tarr
Asiem Sanyal
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Quite evidently a semi-autobiographical account, Tarry Flynn creates a delightful meander through the Ireland of the 1930s. Through his bucolic prose, Kavanagh vividly conjures an impression of the Irish countryside. It isn't difficult to imagine oneself walking alongside Tarry or Eusebius, minding the farm, leading the cow to be impregnated by the bull, indulging in banal pleasantries. The atmosphere is suffused with the smells and sounds of the country, and little wonder that Tarry is prone to ...more
May 10, 2021 rated it liked it
A pretty but plodding picaresque novel of farm life in 1930's Ireland. The language is lyrical as befits young Tarry Flynn, our hero and budding poet, but his observations are exclusively bitter and his outlook unceasingly grim. Even relatively bright and hopeful moments - a flirtation over a broken bicycle or a long set piece at a village dance - are darkened by loneliness and cynicism. Despite the pastoral scenes, this book hardly presents a romantic vision of mid-century Ireland. More like an ...more
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it
It was OK. After reading the description, I thought there would be more, just more. It was just very basic. I was hoping for more intimate details of his struggles.
The description would be more accurate if it read; ‘A tale of Tarry Flynn- farmer and poet. The responsibility of farming, family and his awkwardness with women is tough but not as tough as his mother. His only solution is to rise above or walk away.’
Korny Caswell
Apr 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
Lyrical, slow account of a young man's love of his rural upbringing and his long-suffering mother—and of his painful final decision to leave both behind in order to allow his imagination to flourish. Many beautiful passages and a fine melancholy feel, as well as plenty of humor in the mother's lamentations and errors, but don't be looking for plot please! ...more
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Evocative, painful, anti-pastoral. The first time I have read Kavanagh and I don't know why it has taken me all this time. A gifted writer who captures the ambience of the era. The dialogue rings utterly true to life. A masterpiece. ...more
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On the final page, Tarry Flynn produces a stunning poem which sums up the entire novel in an ecstasy. But it would be futile to open the book on its final page; it is necessary [and entirely worthwhile] to read the novel in order to appreciate this.
Cormac Looney
Aug 26, 2018 rated it liked it
It was interesting to re-read this (30 years on) as a novel of emigration. The final pages cast the preceding novel in an interesting light in this respect.
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
I know some people love these typical Irish books where nothing actually happens, it's just not for me. ...more
Mick Thompson
Nov 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Enjoyed good Irish story of a daydreamer in a gossipy village
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
To be honest the craic was meh...
Frank O'brien
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Best Irish novel from greatest Irish poet. Funny, sad, and so self-revealing. Mary Reilly, where are you now?
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
"women never have got full credit for their bravery. they sacrifice everything to life."

I loved this book so much, the writing was beautiful
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

Assez simple mais on découvre bien l'esprit de la campagne irlandaise ! (Lu en Irlande)
May 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect to like this book but I loved it. It is wonderfully written. I really got to know Tarry and I found myself getting very involved and upset with his story. ...more
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Patrick Kavanagh was an Irish poet and novelist. Regarded as one of the foremost poets of the 20th century, his best known works include the novel Tarry Flynn and the poems "On Raglan Road" and "The Great Hunger". He is known for accounts of Irish life through reference to the everyday and commonplace.

When the Irish Times compiled a list of favourite Irish poems in 2000, ten of his poems were in t

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