'I was the kid who had hung out for far too long on the stairs in his dressing-gown, eavesdropping on the sounds of adult conviviality, but invited to enter the mysteries at last.'
This book is an exuberant memoir of growing up London-Irish, of having two identities and being caught between both.
As a child, John Walsh found the Irishness of his parents' Battersea home bemusing. Here was an enclave of Ireland's mystic west, transported to London's South Circular Road, where performance and after-dinner singing were mandatory, where the gossip and visitors were Irish, and where Catholic priests invaded the kitchen for tea, barm-brack and a waltz with his mother. Ireland too was a puzzle. It was a family holiday destination that meant rain, dry-stone walls and blue bubble gum. It was a country that seemed to scatter its tribes of exiles across the globe, a place his mother had escaped from and his father only longed to return to.
But as a teenager spellbound by Mick Jagger and images of Catholic martyrdom, the author discovers an extended family in a Galway he never know existed. In this new world of hoolies, spook-haunts and wakes, and ultimately through the death of his mother, he begins to understand the Irish Way of Life and Death and the heart of his Hibernian roots.
Witty, intimate and full of illuminating insights into exile, religion and the culture of 'belonging', this book is a the passionate tale of one man's relationship with a mythic and mercurial homeland.
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