Galway Bay - A Novel by Mary Pat Kelly

Galway Bay - A Novel by Mary Pat Kelly

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One family’s epic journey captures both the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience—and echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself …

In a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family. Because they and their countrymen must sell both their catch and their crops to pay exorbitant rents, potatoes have become 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—victims saving themselves—in the emigration from Ireland.

Danger and hardship await them in America. Honora, her unconventional sister Máire, and their children help transform Chicago from a frontier town to the “City of the Century.” The boys go on to fight in the Civil War and enlist in the cause of Ireland’s freedom.

Spanning six generations and filled with joy, sadness, and heroism, Galway Bay sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today’s forty-four million Irish Americans—and is a universal story you will never forget.


“After reading her novel Galway Bay, you might wonder if Mary Pat Kelly knows everything about nineteenth-century Ireland, the Great Famine, and the emigrant experience in America. But it’s her exploration of the human heart that moves you. Against landscapes beautiful and bleak she brings her characters to unforgettable life. As they say in Ireland, ‘Take your ease with this book.’ You’ll need time for laughter and tears and pure magic.” — Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Angela’s Ashes

“So rousingly epic that it can’t help but reach readers’ hearts.”  People Magazine

“A book that should be in every Irish-American household library.”  Irish America Magazine

“This is the story of our people . . . an extraordinary book.”  Irish American News

“Nothing short of riveting.”  Boston Irish Reporter

“Both a family saga and a historical epic, replete with much romance and rigor . . . meant to be read over a couple of long evenings in a comfy chair with a high foot rest . . . A novel Irish both in sensibility and circumstance . . . the humor throughout is by turns gentle or sardonic; the characters exhibit a toughness both resolute and wily, their confidence placed in pluck, not luck . . . In dire times, the Irish would encourage each other to hope for Ireland’s restoration by saying, ‘the Harp will be re-strung.’ Mary Pat Kelly has done precisely that.”  America, The National Catholic Weekly

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