A sometimes happy, sometimes blue story of how a transplanted American family experienced Ireland during the past decade.
Monagan (Jaywalking with the Irish, 2004) spent a year in Dublin in the early ’70s and was taken by the vividness of life in Ireland. In 2000, he and his family moved from their home in Connecticut to Cork, amid the country’s spectacular economic boom. Here the author looks back at the decade and the efforts he made to rediscover the “improvisational, wickedly fresh, and so very human” Ireland he knew. The process was a rediscovery because so much of what seemingly made Ireland special had been lost in the vulgar maw of the boom, “a litany of runaway materialism, instant gratification, increasing hooliganism, and excess of every stripe.” Though certainly there is much left standing in Ireland—the loss of rural pubs, however, is alarming—Monagan was blessed to find a little slice of Old Ireland he could afford. The author and his family purchased a house along the Blackwater River, in Ballyduff, full of gardens and sky, rolling hills and forest and warm, welcoming neighbors. Writing with an unhurried and considered hand, his wryness evident but checked by a brooding malaise, Monagan visits with landscapes both sullied and unsullied, in search of Ireland’s many silver tongues. There are great bar-side chats with anonymous pubsters, as well as a wonderfully anecdote-strewn day with author J.P. Donleavy.
A penetrating, droll embrace of an Ireland in the midst of tumult.