With St. Patrick's Day approaching it is as good a time as any to showcase the veritable library of books and literature, from the land of saints and scholars, which have seen the publishing light of day in recent times here at The Manuscript Publisher. The festivities around St. Patrick's Day are about connecting Irish people from near and far: people who were born or have come to live in Ireland, Irish people who have moved abroad, people in other countries who claim Irish descent.
Where Did They Get You? is the title of an absorbing memoir by Bridget P. McDonnell. It is the story of one who travelled the globe, as a member of the Irish diaspora, but who has also had the opportunity to reflect on the changing face of Irish society over several decades, from the point of view of a returned emigrant. Although her career in nursing took her to many parts of the world, she never lost touch with her roots. She lives today less than 12 miles from the place where she grew up. Her memoir was published just last year and was eagerly snapped up upon release. It is now in its second printing.
Available to buy online. Price €12.95 plus P&P.
Ireland's First Real World Cup by David Needham tells the story of another group of Irish ambassadors - this time of the sporting field. It is the story of the Irish soccer team who travelled to Paris in the summer of 1924. They were taking part in Ireland's first Olympic Games as an independent country. The football tournament at those games was the largest for its time. It was also the first major international competition that an Irish soccer team participated in. On a wider level, the book is about the effect that participation in international sporting competition has had in forging a national identity and consciousness. It is fascinating both as a history of soccer in Ireland and of Ireland's sporting history generally.
Available to buy online. Price €14.99 plus P&P.
The Tobacco Fields of Meath by Liam Nevin is another fascinating piece of largely forgotten history, that also features pioneering Irish men and women. It is the story of the Randlestown experiment - an effort to introduce a new crop, tobacco, to give employment to people in an area experiencing severe hardship due to high unemployment and emigration. In telling this story, Liam Nevin has made available the personal papers of his grandfather, John Nevin, who worked as a tobacco instructor at Randlestown. The papers contain an important first-hand account of over thirty years of tobacco growing in Ireland: not only in Meath but also the counties of Offaly, Louth and as far away as Limerick.
John Toland has been described as 'one of the most interesting characters in Irish history' in a recent Books Ireland review of John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic by J.N. Duggan. Toland is a fine example of Ireland's rich and diverse intellectual tradition. Born a Catholic, he converted to Anglicanism and later to Presbyterianism, before rejecting all forms of organised religion in favour of pantheism, a terms which he coined. He was the first person to be called a 'freethinker' - by his fellow Irishman, Bishop Berkeley.
Toland was also the first gentile to advocate equal rights for Jewish people. His 1715 pamphlet, Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland, has recently been re-issued by The Manuscript Publisher. Professor Jonathan Karp of Binghamton University and the American Jewish Historical Society has described this as an 'extraordinary pamphlet.' It shows Toland as a skilled and fearless commentator: one who accepted nothing at face value but always brought an independent mind to bear on any issue he tackled.
From Navan to China: the Story of a 'Chinese Irishman' is an account of the life of Fr Aedan McGrath, drawn from his personal papers, journals, diaries and letters. It details his involvement with, and devotion to, the Legion of Mary, which brought him half way around the world, to China, at a very tumultuous time. His missionary work took place against the backdrop of world war, civil war, Japanese invasion. He was even imprisoned for a period following the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Upon his release and return to Ireland where he was greeted by President Sean T. O'Kelly, Taoisigh Eamon De Valera, John A. Costello among other dignataries.
Available to buy online. Price €14.99 plus P&P.
Derrick Cranpole is another original thinker who does not shy from controversy when it comes to defending the lives and livelihoods of seafishermen and the coastal communities where they live. His book, A Woeful Tale, is a collection of poems and illustrations. Cranpole's poetry has been described as "ironic, sometimes blunt" particularly when shining the light on an infuriating bureaucracy and officialdom that presides over the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. Some have even detected 'a touch of the Kiplings' in his light-hearted poems and sketches.
Another book in a light-hearted vein is Charles, the Maiden and the Ogre by Sorcha Duggan, a modern day fairy tale which has been described as a mixture of 'Mark Twain like morals and clever Dublin-esque wit.' As the dedication says, this is a book for everyone who believes in fairy tales and happy endings. It is also a book that will appeal to people of all ages, but especially those who remain eternally young at heart.
SiarScéal Anthology 2012: Roscommon in Reflection represents the fruit of over fives years of submissions to the Hanna Greally Literary Awards. It is must for anybody who is from Roscommon, who has connections to the place or even a familiarity with the great warmth of its culture, heritage, landscape and scenery. But it is alo a book that should be read by anybody who appreciates good writing and literature. As author, Dermot Bolger, in his Foreword to this edition describes, "this is a book that emanates from Roscommon and resonates with the landscape and varied stories of Roscommon, but, like all good writing, it slips free of all boundaries and borders to speak directly to the human heart about the human condition."