Review and Blog Tour: Galway Bay
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: