Leaving Ardglass

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Book reviews of mainly modern & contemporary fiction

He has a special talent for bringing the building sites to life, of describing the back-breaking toil thousands of Irish emigrants undertook through necessity, not choice. And the way in which he writes about the workers, queuing up each morning on Mornington Crescent, waiting to be selected as part of the construction crews to be trucked to individual sites, is especially vivid.

You can practically smell the sense of desperation from the labourers and the little Hitler mentality of the bosses. One or two, wearing creased shirts and loose ties, shout to get into the fucken trucks, that they have to go out to Leighton Buzzard. The men have a ruffled look: dried clay on their turned-down wellingtons or hobnailed boots. A thickset man is walking up and down inspecting a queue of men; he looks mostly at their shoes; every now and then, he lifts his cap and wipes his bald crown with a piece of navy cloth.

Above the thud of their boots, a big red-faced man with a head of black hair shouts abuse at them. Did they think they had all the fucken day?

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And Tom, despite his flaws and his occasional lack of backbone he never stands up to his elder brother, despite seeing some horrendous things , is hugely likable. Filthy lot. But the book does not make excuses for behaviours or decisions or the moral cowardice that lies at its heart. What it does, through evocative detail, a cleverly paced narrative and a lightness of touch, is showcase the human condition, with all its tensions and foibles and flaws. If anything Leaving Ardglass is about human greed — and how we can all be corrupted by it if we are not careful.

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I think what was interesting about this book, for me anyway, was reading about the Irish labourers and the ways in which they were exploited by their Irish bosses. Mr Reading Matters has reminded me that Irish folk singer Christy Moore, whom we regularly go to see in concert, has a few songs in his repertoire about this very topic! Resolve has weakened.

Which so far consists of two books both recommended by you! Great review. Another Irish book to add to my tbr pile. I have read six so far this year, mostly books you have reviewed! Ooops, sorry about that!

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Nov 05, Caitriona rated it really liked it. I thoroughly enjoyed this unusual story of navvies, emigration, clerical and planning scandals. Hated it. Bridget O Neill rated it it was amazing Sep 07, Frank rated it really liked it May 31, Caroline rated it liked it Sep 13, Brian Berg rated it it was amazing Dec 30, Breda McCarthy rated it it was amazing Dec 08, Susan Kavanagh rated it liked it Aug 11, Cynthia rated it liked it Jul 11, Marjory marked it as to-read Jan 28, Now he wears a hangdog look — the visible effect of his fights with what he considers to be a world out of kilter.

True to form, M. I see another unfortunate on TV last night. I put down the phone and glance at the empty cloister. Once, when the seminary was full, this time on a Sunday was special. A few of us who taught theology sorted out our lecture notes for the following week and then met before lunch for a gin and tonic. And unless they ask specifically to see Nugent, I listen to their confusion about a world that is banging the front door in their faces.

Standing defiantly on top of a hill, and across the main driveway to All Saints, this granite miniature of a Roman palazzo had been built towards the end of the nineteenth century. Sometimes visiting bishops or cardinals from Italy or Germany, or theologians on the lookout for a mitre, join us for the meal; this Sunday we are on our own.

After Nugent has blessed the food in Latin, his valet, standing at the sideboard, lifts the lid off the soup tureen, releasing a cloud of steam. Lovely out today, thank God. Indian Summer. The media becomes the object of his rage once again. Behind him on the wall is the broad figure of the smiling Pope and himself in a double handshake.

I too make agreeable sounds. Like supporting actors in a long-running play, each of us knows when to speak our lines. When his anger has spent itself, Nugent revisits the good old days when he had been a professor at the national seminary and six hundred students filled the chapel every Sunday for morning Mass. After a couple of glasses of Chardonnay, I am able to flow with the tide, and nod like Plunkett as if hearing all this for the first time.

Leaving Ardglass by William King

Then small talk until I excuse myself: I have to work on files and take that walk by the river. They understand. And each of us follows the time-worn habit for Sunday. The bishop will go for his siesta, a Roman custom since his student days at the Collegio Irlandese. Vinny Lynch will walk Caesar, and then visit his maiden aunt for tea and scones. Plunkett will disappear to the house he got at a cut-price from an old woman he used to visit with Communion every Friday. In my room I search through the Sunday newspapers until I come across the piece on the Heaslip Tribunal, and, right at the centre, photos of my brother M.

In a panel at one side, a journalist had resurrected a piece about a farm near Naas when M. That case fell through for want of evidence. Galvin, who left his native Kerry in for London, is a self-made man, and has been carrying out major building contracts both here and in Britain: one such contract was an extension to Heathrow Airport.

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Mr Galvin has been summoned to give evidence about one of his companies, Ardglass Trust, and its connection with a Cayman Islands bank account. At the bottom of the page are more pictures of M. I put down the newspaper and stare through the window. Instead of the empty cloister, another theatre spreads out before me. Laughing crowds are romping outside Quex Road Church in north London during Sunday Mass; hands are clutching shillings and half-crowns, and reaching out above the milling crowd towards the stalls that sell the Donegal Democrat , the Connacht Tribune and other provincial papers.

I see M. My future is secure: I would go on to study engineering at the university and then join M.

Leaving Ardglass / William King. - Version details - Trove

He had been in London for nine years and already was employing over a hundred men, and had bought a pub on Kilburn High Road. When the neighbours in Ardglass see our new house going up, they satisfy their jealousy by spreading the rumour that when M. Only the crows nesting in the thatch. They kiss on the lips, the girl rushes for an open door of the train and disappears inside, dragging her case behind her. Without looking back, the woman gathers about her three other children who are sobbing loudly, and shepherds them out of the station. With belts or twine around their suitcases, a gang of men makes a noisy entrance: they laugh loudly and jostle their way through the crowd, one or two are carrying hurley-sticks.

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His shovel blade is wrapped in old newspaper; beside him stands an elderly woman in a black shawl. They are silent, except when, now and again, the woman looks up at him and speaks; he nods and throws a hooded glance around the station, a sheepish grin on his face. My mother talks to the girl at the hatch and returns with a ticket.

As an only child, she had to return from Chicago and look after the four cows when her father died in the County Home. Now he is greeting people he has never seen before. Nothing here for the poor devils. Our neighbours in Ardglass got a different version: Mossie had slipped and fallen off a ladder. There was no mention of the row he had started earlier that night in a pub. A mournful cry rises from the girls I had seen earlier.

Caring little for those around her, the woman with the shawl screams through the open window. Mind yourself.

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