Barefoot in Mullyneeny: A Boy's Journey Towards Belonging
The Frank McCourt of Belfast, Bryan Gallagher's reminiscence, first heard on Radio 4's 'Home Truths', are filled with a warming optimism and nostalgic beauty that transports you to a world of boyhood pranks, playground politics and the confusion of growing up in a land as magical and captivating as the landscape against which it is set. Gallagher's is an Ulster that will touch the hearts of those who long for the innocence of childhood and the simplicity of an era long past. Far from the fast-paced life of modern day society, the world in which Bryan Gallagher was born was one of almost idyllic simplicity. Mummers with masks and colonic straw hats sang of Beelzebub, whilst the local band had peeing competitions in the ice and school boys played games of hounds and hares that were laced with the grave political implications; pupils cowered in fear from teachers, teachers ran from head-masters, and head-masters trembled at the sound of the inspector's footsteps. inaccessible, lost to the passages of time and far from the brutalities of sectarian violence that are too often associated with this beautiful part of the world. From his early childhood through to his eventual retirement as headmaster, Gallagher offers us precious, intimate snippets of his life filled with pathos, revelations and hilarity in equal measure. For those who thought that life in Ireland was one of the poverty and misery of James Joyce or Frank McCourt, Barefoot in Ballyconnell offers a view of the Ireland of yesteryear that combines the touching, homely nostalgia of Nigel Slater's Toast and Laurie Lee's Cider with Rosie with a humorous optimism that is unmistakably Ireland at its best.
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