Galway Bay – My review

Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly
Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

Galway Bay
By Mary Pat Kelly
Grand Central Publishing
576 pages

My grandmother was among other things a big reader and a history buff. She loved history. She knew all kinds of stuff, random stuff, stuff no one else seemed to know. She collected facts like some collect bottle caps or stamps. She knew her stuff. And she knew where she came from and made sure that I did too.

I am a mutt, like most Americans I expect. Among many, many different ethnicities, I am Irish. My grandmother was a Moore, descended from the O’Mores or O’Mordha. I still have her family crest, framed and hanging on the wall. Best I can tell, the Moores came over well before the potato famine, but the famine did not go ignored by them. Although she was born after the famine, Mama knew all about that as well. And she had a healthy, shall we say, ‘non-appreciation,’ for the English.

So I came to Galway Bay with an excitement to learn more about my history and with the expectation to put a human face on the tragedy I had heard so much about. Mary Pat Kelly delivered that and so much more.

Galway Bay is the fictionalized story of Mary Pat Kelly’s great-great grandparents and their struggle to survive not only the Irish potato famine, but also the move from their beloved Ireland to America. We meet the young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly by the shores of Galway Bay. It’s love at first sight. They wed and start a family and their farm. They find solace from the troubles of their world in each other, their children, their faith, songs and stories of Ireland. These stories are shared, passed down generation by generation; and remains a theme throughout the book – the passing down of history by the ones who came before. Years of famine and abuse by the English government wear down on the family until; finally, they make the heart wrenching decision to move to America.

I won’t tell you any more. I don’t want to give too much away.  But this tale to two sisters, their amazing strength, perseverance and faith is heartwarming, heartbreaking, and inspiring.  The author did an amazing job of telling these stories of her ancestors and of Ireland.  I highly recommend it. Even if you aren’t Irish, I think you’ll enjoy it.

If’ you’d like to read more books that are in this vein, I also highly (HIGHLY) recommend Frank Delaney’s Ireland.  It is wonderful.  He also has books out called Shannon and Tipperary; which I need to read.

Once Upon a Time III

Once Upon a Time Challenge III
Once Upon a Time Challenge III

Forget the birds.  Forget the rain.  Forget all the tiny things blooming and flourishing and making you sneeze.  The truest sign that Spring is here is the commencement of the Once Upon a Time challenge.  And it’s here!   Hooray! 

I’m a little late getting this up.  I know, when am I not late any more?  At least I’m not late finishing my first book.  I finished As Shadows Fade, Colleen Gleason’s aMAYzing conclusion to her Gardella Chronicles.  It was SO GOOD and I was SO SAD to see it in.  But more on that later.  This is my list of potential reads; reviews can wait for a future post. 

At first, I thought I was going to do Quest the First.  Upon more meanderings around the book blogs and pondering by me, I decided to go for Quest the Third. 


Fulfill the requirements for Quest the First or Quest the Second AND top it off with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream OR a viewing of one of the many theatrical versions of the play. Love the story, love the films, love the idea of that magical night of the year and so this is my chance to promote the reading of this farcical love story.

Of course, now I have to dig out my copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Or add it to my Netflix queue 🙂 

So here’s my potentional list:

  • Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
  • Hunted: A House of Night Novel by PC and Kristin Cast
  • Wonderous Strange
  • Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (for short story weekends)
  • Coyote Road ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (for short story weekends)
  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (since I’m on a Gaiman streak)
  • Fangland
  • Jack of Fables V
  • And perhaps a Twilight reread?

Good luck to everyone else participating! 🙂

Galway Bay Book Tour

Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly
Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

Galway Bay
By Mary  Pat Kelly
Author Website
Author Blog

My review is forthcoming (haven’t quite finished) but I wanted to give you a little info to get you ready for it.  🙂  Plus I always feel like my review gets lost in all the other stuff about the book.

I will say that this is an excellent book that YOU NEED TO READ. Especially if you have any drop of Irish blood in you and/or enjoy historical fiction. 

Also, I’m wearing my pride today, I hope you are wearing the green too!

So, about the book:

Here at last is one Irish family’s epic journey, capturing the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience. In a rousing tale that echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family, inhabiting a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations. Selling both their catch–and their crops–to survive, these people subsist on the potato crop–their only staple food. But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees in one of the greatest rescues in human history: the Irish Emigration to America. Danger and hardship await them there. Honora and her unconventional sister Maire watch their seven sons as they transform Chicago from a frontier town to the “City of the Century”, fight the Civil War, and enlist in the cause of Ireland’s freedom. The Kelly clan is victorious. This heroic story sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today’s 44 million Irish Americans.

 Also, Mary Pat Kelly will be doing an interview on Blog Talk Radio at 11 am – 12 pm ET.   If you can attend, I think it will be fascinating.  I wish I could go! *sniff*

My thoughts are soon to come!

 Other goodies:

 Author article

A letter from Mary Pat Kelly

Mary Pat Kelly, author of Galway Bay
Mary Pat Kelly

In the author’s colorful and eclectic life, she has written and directed award-winning documentaries on Irish subjects, as well as the dramatic feature Proud. She’s been an associate producer on Good Morning America and Saturday Night Live, written books on Martin Scorsese, World War II, and Bosnia, and a novel based on her experiences as a former nun – Special Intentions. She is a frequent contributor to Irish America Magazine and has a PhD in English and Irish literature.


Someone is very proud!
Someone is very proud!

It may be hard to tell, what with the adult teeth already well in, but Ellie lost her first tooth today! It’s been a battle. We discovered her adult teeth coming in about 3 weeks ago and she refused to mess with the baby ones. They were barely loose! I think they finally got really loose from her eating and brushing her teeth, when I took the opportunity to wiggle them a lot. Finally this morning I convinced her to let me mess with it a bit and I, gently, yanked the first out. She’s so proud now! It’s hilarious.  But now we have to get that other one out. 

Yes, I cried a little. My baby girl is growing up!!! *sniff*

The Hunger Games

 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
Author Website
Scholastic Press, 2008
384 Pages

What led you to pick up this book?

I saw so many people talking about it; on Twitter, on other blogs, even Stephen King reviewed it in Entertainment Weekly. I just had to know what all the fuss was about.

Describe the book without giving anything away.

At first glance, The Hunger Games sounded like a book I would not enjoy. I am not one to enjoy dystopian type literature and I definitely do not enjoy reality type shows. But I was definitely surprised. In a nutshell,

What did you like most about the book?

The characters were of the type that you just couldn’t help rooting for. The writing was very good, in my opinion.  The prose was taunt, quick, finely edited to keep the narrative moving, which with a story like this, felt appropriate.  It was a fast read.

What did you think of the characters?

I loved them! Katniss is one in a million. Tough, tenacious, intelligent, resourceful; everything I look for in a female character, especially in young adult literature. Plus, I felt the author stayed true to her characters, whether it was something I liked or not. (i. e. of the romantic, dramatic, torn between two men sort).

Describe your favorite scene:

One in particular sticks out in my mind, but I don’t want to give anything away. It’s too spoiler-ish.  But there is lots of lovely tension, of the romantic sort.

Was there anything you didn’t like about the book?

No. I was particularly worried about violence, since it’s basically a book about children killing each other to survive, but it was not as bad as I thought it would be.


Definitely.  If you like fantasy, dystopian literature, YA literature… you will like this book.  Even if you don’t, you’ll probably like this book!  🙂

Anything else worth mentioning?

I really appreciated the author’s vision of what could happen to humanity if certain things were not to change. There is a definite warning note to this story that is one I think we should all take heed of.  It seems extreme, but then again, it doesn’t.

Cover thoughts:

I just really like it.

I feel like this review does not do this book justice. Here are a few other reviews that may give a better picture of what it’s about AND why you should read it; including Stephen King’s review, which was the catalyst for my reading of it.

Stephen King’s review for Entertainment Weekly | My Friend AmyY.A. New York | Semicolon | The Reading ZoneThe Chick Manifesto | The Book Vault  |