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Review and Blog Tour: Galway Bay

March 17, 2009


In 1839, Honora Keeley is almost 17 years old and on the verge of joining the convent when she has a chance encounter with Michael Kelly.  It’s love at first sight for both of them and they marry shortly after.  They lease some land and settle into a quiet but happy life.  They’re better off than most, and their lives are full of love and family, but it’s still a struggle.  They have several children and they’re close to Honora’s family.  Michael’s brother, Patrick, makes occasional appearances, but has to keep a low profile because of his involvement in the Irish Independence movement.    After three years of The Great Starvation and Michael’s death, Honora, her sister Maire and their 7 children immigrate to America and settle outside of Chicago.  They suffer more hardships (like prejudice and the Civil War) in America, but make a good life for themselves and eventually find happiness.

Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly has a little something for everyone – it’s a family saga, full of romance and history.  I struggled with the beginning of the book because of the Irish terms – later I discovered a glossary in the back that helped a lot.  I thought this book was fantastic.  I thought of my grandmother a lot while I read it.  With no formal education, my maternal grandmother hired herself out as a domestic servant to earn the money for passage to this country because she thought the streets here were literally paved with gold.  My grandmother immigrated from Lithuanian, not Ireland, but she came over here by herself and spoke no English at the time.  She settled outside of Chicago, married another Lithuanian immigrant and they had a family.  My grandmother never spoke English well and she faced prejudices, but she never let that stop her.  My grandfather became disabled, so it was left to my grandmother to support the family.  She raised chickens for eggs and goats for milk.  She grew vegetables and fruit to sell to the wealthy in Chicago.  She took in boarders.  My grandmother worked from sun-up to sundown and never had much but she never turned away anyone in need.  Galway Bay made me reflect on the strength, bravery, determination and tenacity that my grandmother (and other immigrants) possessed and how those characteristics of hers made a better life for me.  I hope I’ve inherited some of those traits from her.   Almost everyone has an immigrant story in their background – this book might remind you of someone in your family too.

Mary Pat Kelly researched Galway Bay for 35 years.  She’s written one other novel and five nonfiction books.  She has also written and directed several documentaries and a feature film.  She will be featured on Blog Talk Radio today at 11 AM Eastern Time.

Some of the other blogs participating in this tour are:

34 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2009 8:28 am

    I love your review — it’s so heartfelt and a wonderful tribute to your grandmother.

  2. March 17, 2009 8:37 am

    Lovely post, Kathy! Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman. (And you’ve totally inherited her traits!!!)

  3. March 17, 2009 8:53 am

    What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. stacybuckeye permalink
    March 17, 2009 9:29 am

    I wish I had something appropriate to review for St. Patrick’s Day 🙂 Great review.

  5. March 17, 2009 10:07 am

    What a great reflection on your own family’s immigrant experience. I really enjoyed this book!

  6. March 17, 2009 10:14 am

    Awesome review and reflection! I find myself thinking and thinking of the long passage to America and the millions of immigrants. Such a tribute to the character and fight to survive. Great Post! This is the second day in a row that Blogger didn’t post my scheduled posts.. ..hummm..going to have to figure it out. Happy Blog Tour Day!

  7. March 17, 2009 10:24 am

    I enjoyed reading this book and I definitely enjoyed how you related to your own fearless and strong grandmother! Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. March 17, 2009 10:29 am

    Awesome personal post! I’m enjoying this book as well!

  9. March 17, 2009 10:42 am

    Lovely post. Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve been wanting to read the book since I first heard about it.

  10. March 17, 2009 10:47 am

    Great review Kathy. I loved this book. I had forgotten to mention the glossary-it really helped and I enjoyed learning a lot of new Irish words.

  11. March 17, 2009 11:09 am

    Great review! I really enjoyed the book too. I really loved reading about your grandmother’s journey here and her determination to succeed!

  12. March 17, 2009 11:46 am

    I loved the book too. Great review. Sharing your grandmother’s story just enriches it. She sounds remarkable.

  13. March 17, 2009 11:54 am

    You know I love anything that makes us think of our loved ones! Great review.

  14. March 17, 2009 12:18 pm

    Kathy, great story about your grandmother. I often wonder whether I would have had the courage that all of my grandparents did, to leave Europe and come to America. It’s important that we remember all the sacrifices they made so we could have a better life.
    p.s. When I was a kid, I delivered eggs with my grandfather to the apartments and three-level walkups in my homwtown, New Britain, Ct.

  15. March 17, 2009 12:31 pm

    It sounds like a great book, I can only imagine the richness of detail after thirty-five years of research! Your grandmother sounds like a very strong woman. I don’t know if I could have gone through all the hardships immigrants had to face.

  16. March 17, 2009 12:45 pm

    Great review! Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman.

  17. March 17, 2009 12:56 pm

    Kathy, I left a award on my blog for you.

  18. March 17, 2009 1:40 pm

    Stories of people behaving courageously under difficult circumstances are such satisfying ones. I enjoy both tales – the books and your grandmother. They gave all of us a great legacy.

  19. March 17, 2009 2:31 pm

    35 years! What a labor of love. Everyone seems to be really liking this one–it does sound really fantastic.

  20. March 17, 2009 2:42 pm

    I’ve heard so many great things about this book. I’d love to win a copy!

  21. March 17, 2009 4:33 pm

    Now, THAT sounds like a great book. And I love things Irish.

    btw, did you ever read “Four Letters Of Love” by Niall Williams. Simply smashing. I think I’m due to haul it off my shelf and re-read. Yes, indeed.

    Happy Day!

    And thanks again for that book you sent.

  22. March 17, 2009 5:12 pm

    Great review!!!!! I’m Stumbling it!

  23. March 17, 2009 6:38 pm

    I was looking forward to hearing your thoughts about this book. What a wonderful review. I’m hoping to get to the bookstore to buy Galway Bay this weekend.

  24. March 17, 2009 6:39 pm

    What a great post Kathy. I too was struck by the strength and fortitude of the women in the story. Thanks for sharing your family story as well.

  25. March 17, 2009 8:07 pm

    Great review, and it was fun to hear your voice on the blogradio show. I only caught the last of it, and was not able to join in, as my children had a school thing. Love putting a voice to your words.

  26. March 17, 2009 10:52 pm

    I loved this one too, Kathy. It made me think of the trials my distant relatives suffered, I know there were some. My kind of book!

  27. March 18, 2009 2:02 am

    Kathy, I loved hearing about your grandmother’s immigrant experience. I felt like I learned a lot from the book about the immigrant experience. My ancestors immigrated to America from England, Scotland and Germany (or so we assume from our surnames), but it was so long ago that I don’t even know who they were. We don’t have any genealogical records prior to the mid 1800s, so it is like a blank slate. Books like this help me to imagine what my relatives might have gone through when they came to America.

  28. March 18, 2009 2:22 am

    Kathy – I LOVE your review! My grandmother came over from Norway as a child. She didn’t speak any English, and has stories about eating fruit that was given to her and her siblings when they reached the Statue of Liberty, and as they weren’t used to eating it, it made them sick and they ended up in quarantine because they couldn’t explain themselves. She worked at a young age for a family, and she tells stories of ironing and doing the lady of the house’s hair with a hot curling iron. I sure hope I can learn a little more about her life! This book has inspired me to ask questions.

    🙂 Wendi

  29. March 18, 2009 4:55 am

    Wow – that’s a lot of years of research. Most of my ansestors came over right after the civil war so it is too far back for me to have heard any immigrant stories. I do know one of my grandmother’s grandmother worked on a farm and still spoke German. They didn’t teach it to my grandmother because they didn’t want her to have an accent.

  30. March 18, 2009 8:41 am

    Your review was awesome! I will be reading this one for sure. Your grandmother must’ve been an amazing woman – I enjoyed hearing her story. Great job!

  31. March 18, 2009 12:23 pm

    Great review! I really want to read this one.

  32. March 18, 2009 7:45 pm

    I can’t wait to read this one. As an Irish-American (my maiden name is Shannon, like the river), I love Irish literature. I’m adding this to my wish list.

  33. March 18, 2009 8:18 pm

    I keep hearing tons of things about this book! Love stories like this 🙂

  34. March 23, 2009 1:14 pm

    What a great review! Thanks for sharing the story of your grandmother. I love hearing immigrant stories; I think they’re so important. I’m glad you enjoyed this book, too. I absolutely loved it!

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