An Island Community
An Island Community
"DE VALERA DUBLIN STORMBOUND DISTRESS
SEND FOOD NOTHING TO EAT—BLASKETS" (p.422)
The Great Blasket Island is a speck of rock off Ireland’s west coast, battered by the cold waves of the North Atlantic, miles from the nearest town on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Even at its peak, when its fisherman in their little naomhóga were hauling in nets bursting with mackerel, the population never reached 200 souls. It was abandoned in 1953.
Yet there is something about this little island and its Irish-speaking inhabitants that has fascinated Ireland and the world. Writers and poets from the Great Blasket, from Ireland and from abroad documented life there. TDs in the Dáil in Dublin debated its affairs, and so did MPs in Parliament in London. Taoiseach Éamon de Valera visited twice.
In this book, originally published in Irish as Scéal agus Dán Oileáin, the author draws on personal experience, interviews with islanders, and a wealth of other sources to present a textured, comprehensive social and cultural history of this iconic island.
Praise for An Island Community
'The author's splendidly researched historical and cultural exposition of the Great Blasket combined with the smoothly sensitive translation, evokes the distinctive character of another world in a lucid, stimulating and delightful presentation.'—Dr. Declan M. Downey, Spanish Royal Academy of History & University College Dublin
'An Island Community: The Ebb and Flow of the Great Blasket Island assumes the mantle of The reference work in English about Blasket Island history... [It] will be regarded as "The Bible" of Blasket history, sociology, and culture.'—Professor Thomas F. Shea, University of Connecticut
'This is a magnificent piece of work, the definitive account of the Blasket story by the world expert on the life, literature and legacy of that community. Micheal is the keeper of the flame, a passionate and erudtite man who has taught me so much about the Blasket islands and people. An Island Community makes his knowledge and skill as a story teller available to all.'—Cole Moreton, The Mail on Sunday, author of Hungry For Home: A Journey To America From The Edge Of Ireland (Viking/Penguin)
'A virtual treasure trove of not only of Blasket Island but Irish social and cultural history...Mr. De Mordha has crafted and woven together a masterpiece of specific Irish historical literature.'—Douglas E. James
'Mícheál's awareness of the Great Blasket Island is impressive, but his ability to relay the stories of the individuals who were evacuated from the island to Dún Chaoin is even more so.'—Woman's Way
'An Island Community captures that special magic beloved of so many generations of readers in this country.'—The Kerryman
'An Island Community is a treasure of facts on a lost way of life...comprehensive and well researched, striking a balance between academic detail, facts and figures, and engaging anecdotes on island life.'—Des Breen, Evening Echo
'It's easy to become completely absorbed in the story and faith of the Blasket Islanders and once you're in there's no getting out.'—Frank Lewis, Radio Kerry
About the Author
Mícheál de Mórdha is from Dún Chaoin, Co. Kerry. He has been a producer/presenter with RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and a journalist with the Irish-language weekly Inniú. In addition to Scéal agus Dán Oileáin, Mícheál has written An Rialtas Ab Fhearr, a humorous account of the making of the film Ryan's Daughter, edited various publications and contributed to both TG4 and RTÉ.
Gabriel Fitzmaurice is from the village of Moyvane in County Kerry. He taught in the local primary school for more than thirty years, before retiring in 2007. He is the author of more than fifty books, including collections of poetry in English and Irish, as well as several collections of verse for children. He has translated extensively from Irish and has edited a number of anthologies of poetry. Gabriel has been described as ‘a wonderful poet' in The Guardian and ‘the Irish A. A. Milne’ by Declan Kiberd in The Sunday Tribune.