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1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion
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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is the comment thread for our September monthly read 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion by Morgan Llywelyn.

I looking forward to discussing this novel with you all and reading your thoughts and views.

Declan. :)


message 2: by Katie (new)

Katie Mcsweeney (applekoko19) | 15 comments Just bought the book on amazon :) Now I must just wait for it to arrive!


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll have to get a credit card for online purchases. I just priced it in town and it's €18.


message 4: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments It sounds like a great read. I'll look for it.


message 5: by James (new)

James | 6 comments Hello! My name is Jay. I'm a friend of Annie, and I appear to be introducing myself to the group.

*looks around* Yes, that's definitely probably what's going on in this post.

So hello. I'm getting this. I look forward to reading your thoughts! :)


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Welcome, Jay.

I look forward to discussing this with you.

We have an intro folder on the group's homepage. If you want to introduce yourself more thoroughly you can open a new topic there.

Declan. :)


message 7: by Anty (new)

Anty Notosapoetro (AntyH) | 10 comments I think I will skip this one.


message 8: by Annie (last edited Sep 01, 2012 06:40PM) (new)

Annie | 81 comments I'm aware that most of you have not yet obtained your copies of the book, but I was fortunate enough to find a single copy at a local bookstore and am already more than 100 pages into it. I have to say, being familiar with Irish history is making this a very emotional read for me. Knowing how this ends for each person introduced makes it a very difficult (but interesting) experience to develop an emotional connection with each. Having been to Kilmainham Gaol and the GPO and many of the places where these events occurred makes this a very real read. I'm eager to see what each of you has to say about your own perspectives on this novel. I've been a fan of Llewelyn's work for a while now, so I'm glad to finally have an opportunity to discuss it with you. :)


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

@Annie

I haven't started mine yet. It's quite difficult to get in Dublin, but I was busy on the phone the phone and internet and managed to track down a second-hand copy for €5.99, Which was such a relief as a special order copy was going to cost me €17.99.

@Anty

Maybe we'll have something more to your liking next month.


Susan Johnson | 4622 comments Declan wrote: "I'll have to get a credit card for online purchases. I just priced it in town and it's €18."

Wow! I just ordered a copy from Amazon for $2.99. Sorry about that, Declan.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I probably could have ordered from the Internet for around €10 all in. But between being a student and the recent downturn, I can't get a credit card. :(

It's such a pain. Still, I was lucky to find one cheaply.


message 12: by Annie (new)

Annie | 81 comments Has anyone else had a chance to start reading it yet? I'm a little over halfway through it now. Any comments or opinions so far?


message 13: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments I've just gotten my copy today--so I'm not yet into the novel, but I'm looking forward to it and reading the discussion.


message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 09, 2012 11:02AM) (new)

I'm struggling a little with this. I find myself tutting and groaning quite a lot.

I'm going to put it aside for a few days and see if I can find some enthusiasm for it.


message 15: by James (new)

James | 6 comments Sorry for the absent attention, y'all. Annie and I made an abortive attempt to get hold of a copy for me today, and the only thing left to save my honor is to grab a copy full price from a retailer on Sunday. I promise that I will put aside the 12 other books that I am reading to prioritize this. I am still super excited about this!

Declan, what is the source of the tutting and groaning? Factual liberties in Llewelyn's recounting?


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

My main problem is with the author's style. The further I read into the book the more it felt like a cheesy daytime drama.


message 17: by Roberta (new)

Roberta | 78 comments I'm not enjoying it as much as I did the first time around, almost 10 years ago. Something in the style is irking me but I haven't figured it out yet. Good review of the history though.


message 18: by James (last edited Sep 09, 2012 08:15PM) (new)

James | 6 comments Aaaah, OK. I don't think that I mind the style, though I'm not very far into it, I admit. I tend to read a lot of historical writing, which means that I've developed this compulsive forgiveness of stylistic kinks, so perhaps I'm not the best judge of the style. :)

I don't have any thoughts on the material yet, though I do have a question of lore regarding the following excerpt.

>>"Wisha, lad, don't be letting your imagination run away with you," Mama would say; Mama, who heard banshees on the wind and shrieked aloud if someone brought whitethorn blossoms into the house.<<

What lore surrounds whitethorn blossoms that makes them unwelcome as indoor decorations?


message 19: by Annie (new)

Annie | 81 comments I can see how the style on this one would be irritating to someone who prefers a straight-forward, factual account of events, but to those of us (like myself) who need some sort of emotional connection with the characters, I think Llewelyn does a good job of humanizing her subjects. History books tend sometimes to make the people they are telling about seem like little more than a name on a page... Someone who did something that most of us will never have the need or opportunity to do. This makes it hard to see that these people had lives outside of their historical significance... They had sweethearts and family troubles and regular, everyday jobs just like most of us do. I know that Llewelyn's inclusion of all of the little romances and sexual encounters and other such details can make the story seem more dramatic - almost like a soap opera - but if we're being honest, how many of us can say that our own lives aren't equally as dramatic at times? For me, it's very important to be able to relate to the people I'm reading about, and I think Llewelyn has allowed me to do that. It IS a little too neat that the same person could be found at every important event that happens within that time frame, but how else would you tie the story together? I'd be interested to hear how you'd each change the style. Are there other specific problems you have with it?


message 20: by Annie (new)

Annie | 81 comments James wrote: "What lore surrounds whitethorn blossoms that makes them unwelcome as indoor decorations? "

Jay, I'm probably not the best person to answer this and I hope our Irish friends will correct me on this if I'm wrong, but I do know that Whitethorn trees were supposed to be sacred to the faeries and there was some folklore that suggested harm may befall anyone who damaged one. I don't think this is the only folkloric association with Whitethorn though... Does anyone else know of any other reasons this may have been an upsetting decoration for Ned's mother?


Laura | 258 comments I haven't started it yet as I am still wrapped up in the quarterly read.


message 22: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 10, 2012 02:50PM) (new)

In James Plunkett's Strumpet City he used a varied cast of characters to portray the poverty of Dublin; in the same era of this book, as it happens. He spent far less time with any of them than Llywelyn did with Ned and his sister and I felt a much greater connection to all of these. Probably because their lives were portrayed more simply and realistically. Llywelyn could have taken a leaf from his book and told the various events through the eyes of more relevant people.

I'm not relating to the historical figures, over all. With the exception of Joseph Plunkett most have mad a brief appearance and another person would say he did this or that. This doesn't give me a real insight or understanding to their personalities

It's not simply the fact that Ned is at every single historically significant event after, and including, the sinking of the Titanic. He also happens to bump into other characters who weren't at any of these simply through chance. (view spoiler) After a while this level of coincidence starts to become tiresome.

Spoilers for people who haven't read the first half.
(view spoiler)

There's a lot more to discuss, but I'll leave it for now. I don't actually hate this novel, even though this post would seem to suggest it. But I don't find it particularly good.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, I got cracking on the novel again and I finished it yesterday.

The second half was much better than the first, even though some of the problems I had with the rest of the novel still lingered. (Just to a much lesser degree.)

I've hogged a lot of discussion, so far, so I'll wait until someone else gives their opinion before I get carried away, again.

I will also open a spoiler thread in this folder.


message 24: by Laura (last edited Sep 14, 2012 07:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura | 258 comments I finally started 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion. Unfortunately, it's very old and quickly fell apart. The library is going to be pissed. So as soon as I piece it together I will restart. I'm sure I will like it although the first thing that came to mind was the young lad and other characters in Sebastian Barry'sA Long Long Way also set during this time. Perhaps it is unfair to jump to conclusions but I suspect that there is a more authentic feel to Barry's work. I really didn't like the inclusion of the Titanic bit. It felt contrived.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

I would agree with you about Willie Dunne in A Long Long Way. It did feel more realistic and as the characters were almost entirely fictional, the Barry could construct their personalities more freely an without any preconceived ideas.

You seem to share some of my reservations, Laura. It does get better in the second half, though. Particularly with the descriptions of the various battles and stand-offs.


message 26: by James (new)

James | 6 comments I'm going to be one of the few (maybe the few?) to defend the inclusion of the Titanic episode.

I think that it sets the stage, dramatically, for many of the thematic elements that arise later in the novel. Specifically, I was interested in the fact that the "local color" style of dialogue served to distinguish between classes of Irish rather than between ethnicities. Speaking as a man who's studied American lit's usage of "local color," I decode the effort as less a conveyance of legitimate or historical speech patterns than as a communication of difference in class. (Yes, OK, I am a little Marxist, maybe, but I love butterflies and babies. <3 You should love me for this IMO, but that is just MO. In case this is not a convincing argument, need I remind you that I love babies and butterflies?! Kittens in addition to that?!!)

The Titanic sequence is pretty well done, I think!

A focal point of the interactions aboard the Titanic is between a middle-class Irish boy (Ned, reader Ego), a rural-class farmworker borne for working clss paradise (Dan), and the Englishman (whose name eludes me, perhaps appropriately given his propensity toward HORRIBLE HUMAN BEING-acting). This situates the interactions that occur over the course of the 1916 events as between three parties: the Irish middle class/petty bourgeoisie, the rustic and romanticised nationalist Irish, and the interluding English absentee lords whose legal dominance cannot quench the native Gaelic thirst for linguistic and ethnic autonomy.

(I am a survivor of higher academics. This analysis is my scars of that time.)

So that's where I think that the Titanic episode sets the stage for the class strife that emerges within the novel. Beyond that, I think that the broader sketchlines of the Titanic episode cast both criticism and praise upon the 1916 uprising. I mean, it seems clear to me that the Titanic represents, in pop literature if not in scholastic engineering publications, humanity's hubris... much as the Hindenburg zeppelin or Ozymandias's legacy marker. This precedes the introduction of an insurrection and a revolution (because, despite the suggested contradictions, I expect they are the same in spirit).

For me, as an American who has grown up amid the myth and idealization of revolution, this is poignant. Within the novel, the 1916 uprising is not historically preceded by but thematically contextualized by the hubris and memory of the Titanic.

I should stress that I don't draw this as an analogy. However, within the framework of the novel, it strikes me as a formal acknowledgement of the historical ambiguities that enforced the results of a nationalistic fact.

Essentially, the project of human self-assertion -- either through nautical engineering or political redefinition -- is immense. The successes and the failures belong to the same lineage; therefore, the Titanic and the uprising of 1916 share blood.

This is how I've been reading it. I'm only 1/2 way through.


message 27: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 14, 2012 10:17PM) (new)

There wasn't actually a huge gulf in class, or local colour, between Ned and Dan. Both children probably would have attended similar schools run by the Christian Brother's or the local Lordships free of charge . It seems that Mr. Halloran was one of the first Landlords to benefit from the various land acts. Most of these acts simply allowed the various farmers to buy whatever piece of land they happened to work. The plot may not have been particularly large or productive. I other words, not particularly profitable. The Hallorans leased a small plot of their land for labour and service. The real 'big farmers,' as they're referred in to book, had their own waged staff. So, despite Mrs. Halloran's ambitions to live in a palatial home, they were still small fry. The only reason the could afford to sail to America was Alexander Campbell. Otherwise, if they had to pay for their own passage, the probably wouldn't have all sailed, and those who did probably would have been in steerage. It appears in hindsight that Llywelyn had a reason for including the Titanic. It was wholly unnecessary, but perhaps mildly amusing.

The Englishman who accosted Ned probably served to show the attitude of a typical English person of that time: A feeling of superiority resulting from anti-Irish prejudice, but ultimately good. (view spoiler)

If the Titanic episode served any purpose, it was instilling in Ned his sense of responsibility for Dan's demise, and giving Ned a sense of indomitability.

I'm not sure where I stand with the the Titanic/insurection hubris idea. I didn't get a sense of that at all, and I'm having trouble reconciling that hypothesis with what I remember from the book. We can discus this more after you've finished, but I think I'm going to need a lot of convincing. I don't think Llewelyn meant it to be interpreted like that.


message 28: by James (new)

James | 6 comments This interests me, Declan, since it indicates differences between how the novel transports across a physical and cultural aquatic body. :) The difference interests me insofar as the novel serves as an "ambassador" of Irish history as an effort to dramatize significant history... and the very questions I've posed of the novel regard what secrets of internal experience it keeps as an effort to convey the (inherited) internal experience of history to an uncontrolled and in some ways unanticipated audience. The question that comes first to my mind is "to whom is this story being told?" And, next, comes the question "to what end is the story being told?" We're in the blended realm of historical fiction, so -- especially to a non-Irish-native -- these are questions that need asking.

To whatever degree that a gulf in class did not exist historically between Dan and Ned -- each of whom, I note to no specific end, have interposable consonants in their names, based around related vowels -- I think that it exists in the fiction itself. As I wrote, I'm only 1/2 through the novel, so my conclusions will doubtlessly change by the time I complete my reading. At this point, though, I'm struck by the immediate juxataposition between Dan's "Americay" and Ned's "America."

I don't have a clear idea of how this will relate to the development of the characters within the story, yet, but it sets a stage of simultaneous difference and identification between the Irish classes that Dan and Ned belong to. The difference is emphasized in Llewelyn's contrasting physical descriptions of Ned's petty bourgeousie home and Dan's family's mud hut along with their respective positions of opportunity. (As I read it, Dan could hardly expect the kind of opportunity for higher education, given his circumstances, as the empathetic gesture as Ned received proved.)

>>If the Titanic episode served any purpose, it was instilling in Ned his sense of responsibility for Dan's demise, and giving Ned a sense of indomitability.<<

This is a possible reading, definitely. I think that this is an effect upon Ned's character, certainly. I'm reading the Titanic episode as a formal complement to the historical intepretation that the novel's fiction attempts. I mean, it's clear from your posts (I read spoilers since I figure that no ultimately good writing can ever be spoiled) that the strict factuality of history bends, in Llewlyn's craft, to the dramatic neccessity of a central narrator. Given this, I can see that the Titanic episode would serve as a dramatic introduction for the novel's ego himself.

How this will ultimately bear as a reflection upon the evens of 1916 hinges upon the remainder of Llewelyn's portrayal of both the activists and Ned, particularly since Ned appears to be the only material connection between the focal events of 1916 and the Titanic at all. I've got a bit more to read, so my judgment is stayed on that account, but this is how I'm engaging the text as it proceeds across my eyes. :)

As a comment upon a reader's tactic, I'm inclined to read Llewelyn's inclusion of the ahistorical Titanic episode as an inteligent decision. "An intelligent decision" does not necessarily mean "a well-executed act," I should note. The conflict between "poetics" and history is well known, as one embellishes while the other instructs. As such, I take the attempt to embellish (the Titanic sequence) amid the presumption to instruct (the characterization of historical figures from 1916) as an effort to comment, stylistically, upon historical events.

This might all change in my mind soon though! La la la, reading stuff is the best! :)


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm glad that you read the spoilers. I figured that you were far enough into the story that it wouldn't colour your interpretations. They were for other readers.

As far as I'm concerned it was written for a North American audience with no more purpose than the author wishing to combine and share two things which are dear to her. Writing an Ireland. That's the overriding impression I get from Llywelyn.

I've read that she lives in Dublin now, but most of her books aren't exactly the easiest to get hold of in Ireland. I had to email every second-hand bookshop in Dublin to find a copy of this, and it's the same for most of her works. I doubt she was ever particularly bothered about promoting them here, either.

I don't remember Ned having any strong expectations of America, so if there's a juxtaposition to be found it's within their reasons for the voyage. Dan was sailing in the hope of a new life which would afford greater opportunities than he might expect in the west of Ireland. Ned was simply making a family visit for his sister's wedding. it probably served to underline social status of Irish Catholics, with Ned being the exception that proves the rule(view spoiler)

I've written about as much as I'd like to divulge about the Titanic episode for now. I look forward to discussing it later.


message 30: by James (new)

James | 6 comments I suspect that this is a typo borne of accidental omission, but "Writing an Ireland" is kind of a lovely phrase!


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

I can think of a couple of members who might enjoy that, right enough.


message 32: by Barbara (last edited Sep 15, 2012 02:24PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Barbara (bdegar) | 4594 comments I had already read about 75% of this book and have to get back to it. I have also noticed that there are certain books written for an American audience to appeal to our romantic notions of Ireland, and filled with background because we often don't know much about Irish history or culture. I think books like 1916 serve a purpose and this is actually a book I would recommend to someone who was interested in Ireland and history but doesn't necessarily know a lot. Another post mentioned Sebastian Barry's book A Long Long Way as occurring in this same period. I think Sebastian Barry is a brilliant writer though this is the one book of his I have yet to read. Yet even here in literary Washington DC at the most literary independent bookstore in the city in an upper middle class neighborhood, his readings attract only a handful of people. His reading for On Canaan's Side was amazing as he read different characters in different voices and accents - a great actor. Other readings average 75 to 100 up to 200 people.
I have been in a number of Irish-related book groups in this area, and there are not a lot of Americans who read more literary Irish novels. I believe there is a high level of unawareness about literary Irish writing. Literary types have a stereotypical view thinking all novels about Ireland are like Maeve Binchy, Irish chick lit, and sentimental type books like the kind Patrick Taylor writes. I do read all of those types of Irish books, but one of of the Irish book groups I am in focuses on novels written after 1990 and we do read a lot more literary kinds of book. It is an ongoing struggle between those who want to read literary stuff all the time, and those who would be happiest with Morgan Llwelyn.


message 33: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 15, 2012 03:52PM) (new)

Irish chick-lit really exploded as its own genre. It's pretty massive in the UK, too. Apart from Maeve Binchy, Cecelia Ahern and Marian Keyes are also huge. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand I'm proud of the fact that Irish writers are so successful. On the other it annoys me that some of my favourite Irish authors, such Sebastian Barry and Joseph O'Connor, lag so far behind in terms of readership.


message 34: by Barbara (last edited Sep 15, 2012 06:43PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Barbara (bdegar) | 4594 comments The "problem" with chick lit from what I've heard from Irish writers - women who write different kinds of novel - is it has become very hard to find a publisher. It's what sells - both in Ireland and in other countries.
Here's a list of Irish women writers who are writing non-chick lit (a few are no longer with us, and some predate the 70's):
1. Emma Donoghue
2. Christine Dwyer Hickey
3. Claire Keegan
4. Deirdre Madden
5. Nuala O'Faolain
6. Anne Enright
7.Edna O'Brien
8. Clare Boylan
9.Catherine Dunne
10.Kerry Hardie
11. Josephine Hart
12. Jennifer Johnston
13. Claire Kilroy
14.Emer Martin
15.Belinda Mc Keon
16.Mary Morrisy
17.Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
18. Julia O'Faolain
19.Iris Murdoch
20. Maeve Brennan
21.Leland Bardwell
22. Kate O"Brien
23. Elizabeth Bowen

This list is not exhaustive but it's a good one:)


message 35: by Roberta (new)

Roberta | 78 comments Great list. Thanks Barbara.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

There are a lot of familiar names on that list but I've only read Anne Enright.


Barbara (bdegar) | 4594 comments Declan wrote: "There are a lot of familiar names on that list but I've only read Anne Enright."

Just to plug some of my favorites - younger writers Claire Keegan and Claire Kilroy are must reads. I love Maeve Brennan, a Dubliner who wrote for the New Yorker. Emma Donoghue has written a new play about her which I will be seeing at the Dublin Theater Festival when I am there next month. Belinda Mc Keon's novel got rave reviews when it came out last year on both sides of the Atlantic. I also love Jennifer Johnston who has been writing for years and now lives in Derry. I spent a lot of time with Christine Dwyer Hickey when she was in Washington DC for a week a few years ago for the Irish Writers Festival. Her new book The Cold Eye of Heavan has gotten great reviews and I loved her books Tatty and Last Train from Lurgia. She is the writer who said she'd never get published now if she hadn't have had her first novel out before the chick lit trend hit.


message 38: by Laura (last edited Sep 16, 2012 09:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura | 258 comments I have only read a few from the list so it gives me plenty of ideas. One of the writers I have read was Nuala O'Faolain and her very powerful and painful Are You Somebody?: The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman. Even though my mother was born in American, she was born into an Irish-American family and culture that reflected Nuala's menmoir. It helped me to understand her and my grandmother a bit more.


Laura | 258 comments Declan wrote: "I would agree with you about Willie Dunne in A Long Long Way. It did feel more realistic and as the characters were almost entirely fictional, the Barry could construct their personalities more fre..."

You are right. 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion is picking up during the second half of the book. As an American I frequently feel my grasp of Irish history is sketchy and appreciate when I can dig a bit deeper. I remind myself that not every book has to be a literary book to be valuable and interesting.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

I've added The Cold Eye of Heaven and Are you Somebody?

I feel like I should add more, but, realistically, I won't be making much headway into my to-read list.

Laura wrote: "You are right. 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion is picking up during the second half of the book. As an American I frequently feel my grasp of Irish history is sketchy and appreciate when I can dig a bit deeper. I remind myself that not every book has to be a literary book to be valuable and interesting. "

I agree. I'm sure she must be highly valued to Irish Americans who aren't exposed to Irish history to the same degree that Irish children are. And as harsh as I've been about this book, I think Llywelyn is a very capable writer.


Susan Johnson | 4622 comments Well, I'm halfway through it and I am holding you to the idea that it will pick up in the second half. If I wasn't reading it for group, I would have given up on it. I think the characters are two dimensial and stereotypes. We have the greedy American married to Kate, the mean Englishman on the Titanic, the saintly Pearse brothers and the obligatory affair with the priest.

I was interested in the Brian Boru story. I am ashamed to admit that I thought he was fictional like Finn McCool. Now that's a book I'd like to read. I have realized I really enjoy ancient history. I liked Thomas Cahill's "How the Irish Saved Civilization", a book I read about a woman Celtic priestess converted by St. Patrick, and JS's book about the ancient astronomers.

When I read this book I just get angry about the English. I think we Americans believe that all countries want to be independent. That is why we do not understand why there is a N. Ireland still in the British Empire. Why aren't they with the rest of their country? When I was in Scotland I was shocked there is not agitating about independence. I read about the Scone Stone and how the English stole it and it made me mad. I loved the movie when the kids steal it back and where is the real stone.


message 42: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 23, 2012 09:56AM) (new)

Northern Ireland is still part of the UK because the British Parliament couldn't be seen as abandoning citizens who identified as loyal subjects.

There is a large population of protestants in NI as a result of the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century. There is a large number who claim their national identity as Ulster-Scots. There is even a drive to have the Ulster vernacular recognised as an official Ulster-Scots language.

I'd recommend Cromwell in Ireland if you have the time to read it. If not, I'd also recommend To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland which deals more briefly with Cromwell's campaign but delves into the transplantation of Irish people to Virginia and the West Indies to serve as indentured servants. They were basically slaves without the protections that slavery legislations conferred.

The polarisation in Irish politics only started in the late 19th century. The protestant population resented the presence of Catholic clergy at political rallies and fundraisers. There was a famous maxim from the time which was 'Home rule is Rome rule.' The Ulster Covenant was only signed in 1912.

The Stone of Scone is in Edinburgh Castle. I had to Google that. It's something I'd only ever heard about when I was a teenager. I watched a Billy Connolly documentary where he discussed the stone's history while at Scone Palace. It was still in London at the time, but there was a big campaign to have it returned to Scotland.


message 43: by Barbara (last edited Sep 23, 2012 10:18AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Barbara (bdegar) | 4594 comments A friend just sent me this resource on the Cromwell campaign in Ireland : “Language and Linguistic Evidence in the 1641 Depositions” project at Aberdeen University. The project is now available only at www.1641.ie

I just bought a book God's Executioner by Micheál Ó Siochrú, though I am not sure how soon I will read it.


Laura | 258 comments Declan wrote: "Northern Ireland is still part of the UK because the British Parliament couldn't be seen as abandoning citizens who identified as loyal subjects.

There is a large population of protestants in NI ..."

Thanks for the reference to To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland. I have an ancestor who came to Virginia in the early 1600's who I am assuming was an indentured servant. He was a Reagan. His son Daniel accumulated land and left a will which is interesting to read. There is a court record about Daniel's uppity wife "Complaint being made to this Court that one Elizabeth Regan, the wife of Daniell Regan hath several times and in several places fomented many malignant and rebellious words tending to sedition.."


message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

Barbara wrote: "A friend just sent me this resource on the Cromwell campaign in Ireland : “Language and Linguistic Evidence in the 1641 Depositions” project at Aberdeen University. The project is now available on..."

I'll try to look at that link in more detail, soon. It's often overlooked , maybe somewhat understandably, that Cromwell fought in the English Civil War before his Irish campaign. Quite a few Scots were sent to the West Indies, too. I must try to make time to read more about this, because what I'e typed here is about the extent of what I know. There was a TV documentary made based on God's Executioner. I haven't watched it yet, myself, but it was widely watched and well received.

Laura wrote: "Thanks for the reference to To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland. I have an ancestor who came to Virginia..."

That sounds very possible: Even probable. It's a little sobering to think that I'm probably speaking to the ancestor of one of Cromwell's transplanted. There's a famous letter by Henry Cromwell, Oliver's son, that's printed in THoB, where he requests that 1000 boys and 1000 girls of suitable age be sent overseas with the intention of converting them. It's a very interesting read.


message 46: by Laura (last edited Sep 23, 2012 12:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laura | 258 comments I am glad I continued with the novel despite its flaws. I learned quite a lot about the many different participants with differing goals during this initial part of the rebellion. It was chaos and yet , I think, inevitable. At the same time that I was reading this novel I was reading a brilliant letter written by Martin Luther King while he was in a Birmingham jail for civil disobedience in 1963. King called for creative direct action even if it meant disobedience -but not violence. He felt that people could tolerate oppression only so long and if it was not addressed chaos and violence would erupt. It was inevitable. Rereading the letter reminded me of the commonalities between the oppression suffered by the Irish and that of the African Americans.

Back to the novel: There were so many characters and relevant story lines that it was just distracting and annoying to include Kathleen and Paul's drama.


Susan Johnson | 4622 comments Declan wrote: "Northern Ireland is still part of the UK because the British Parliament couldn't be seen as abandoning citizens who identified as loyal subjects.

There is a large population of protestants in NI ..."

Is religion still a big problem? Would the Catholics hunt down the Protestants of N Ireland? I didn't think this was still an issue.


Susan Johnson | 4622 comments Laura wrote: "Declan wrote: "Northern Ireland is still part of the UK because the British Parliament couldn't be seen as abandoning citizens who identified as loyal subjects.

There is a large population of pro..."

Laura, that is great story of the wife. I'd be proud to have her as an ancestor.


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

@Laura. I agree with you about Kathleen's affair with the priest. It was completely unnecessary. Neither love triangle added anything to the story. I thought the served little if any purpose.

@Susan. There's far less violence nowadays. It's mostly forgotten and gladly left behind. Whatever violence there ever is, or was, was commited by both sides.


Vanessa Russell (vanessarussell) Declan wrote: "My main problem is with the author's style. The further I read into the book the more it felt like a cheesy daytime drama."

I've just finished the book and have to agree with Declan's point of view here. The early parts of the book were pure cheese, and I thought the inclusion of the Titanic was just a plot device to get the Forrest Gump-like Ned into the centre of historical events of the time.

But as soon as the book got into the historical fiction, I was engrossed. It made me want to tour Dublin again and really see the scars of what happened in 1916. As an introduction into the Easter rising, it was simply enough explained that I could learn without feeling like I was being lectured.

I could have done without the Titanic link, and with what Laura hilariously described as the obligatory affair with the priest. I think the plot with Caitlin, Alexander and Paul was unnecessary and got in the way of building up my empathy with the true historical figures.

But if you cut through the fluff, there is a great story there: and that's probably the point for me. The story is incredible because it's real. It's just that Llewelyn's telling of it took away the impact of the truth, and that's why the book didn't work for me.


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