'The tide spreads a mantle of silk Around the Great Blasket Island' So wrote Micheal O'Guiheen of his beloved island home. But by 1953 the authorities had evacuated the Great Blasket and its traditions were vanishing. Micheal O'Guiheen, 'the Poet' of the book, was the son of Peig Sayers, who wrote 'An Old Woman's Reflections'. But while that was a celebration of the good times, and her son's schoolmate Maurice
O'Sullivan's 'Twenty Years A-Growing' was a book of laughing youth, this takes the story to sombre middle age. It tells of sunny times clouded over only by unconscious intimations of mortality, not only of youth but also of an irreplaceable culture: the consternation caused by a passing comet, the drudgery
of a turf-gathering expedition turning into a carefree rabbit hunt. This first and only English edition of O'Guiheen's 'cri de coeur' is supplemented by translations, from the author's own poetry, previously only available in the original. The Blasket Islands are three miles off Ireland's Dingle Peninsular. Until their evacuation just after the Second World War, the lives of the 150 or so Blasket Islanders had remained unchanged for centuries. A rich oral tradition of
story-telling, poetry, and folktales kept alive the legends and history of the islands, and has made tier literature famous throughout the world. The seven Blasket Island books published by OUP contain memoirs and reminiscences from within this literary tradition, evoking a way of life which has now
`Part of a unique and remarkable Irish literary archive ... compelling.'
Neil Johnston, Belfast Telegraph, 24/6/00
1. Youth and School; 2. New houses being built on the Island; 3.The Comet; 4. The day of the Auction on the Island; 5. Living in the new House; 6. How I got Thrush; 7. The Mackerel season; 8. A Day's Hunting and Peevishness; 9. Shrovetide and the Great Commotion; 10. Bad news - The Death of Nell Mhor's little Girl; 11. The Great War; 12. Sitting on the Bank of the Strand; 13. How the Warship came to the Island; 14. The Coming of Donall
O'Sullivan; 15. The Rising; 16. My Term at School Finished