The true life story of James and Ellen Kenny (McEntyre) who were married in January 1915, raised five children and survived together in marriage until January 1987 - truly a marathon marriage. BookView Ireland Marathon Marriage By M.F. Kenny Michael Kenny's book about his parents, James and Ellen Kenny, is a ramble through Ireland in the 20th century, a story centred on Banagher in Co. Offaly but also encompassing Limerick, Tipperary, Cavan and Galway. James and Ellen were married for an incredible seventy-two years and appeared on Gay Byrne's Late Late Show in the mid-1980s after having won the prize of being the oldest couple with an account with the Bank of Ireland. It is indicative of James Kenny's patriarchal and dictatorial way that it was only then that his family discovered that the pair had been married in secret and lived apart for the first year of their married life. Kenny has a conversational style of writing about his family, interspersed with historical details which take him off at a tangent at various points in the narrative. What comes over the most strongly, however, is the way in which his father treated himself and his three brothers, giving them neither responsibility nor salaries though all four were involved in the various family businesses. James was an entrepreneur without the astuteness necessary for business and often made wrong decisions, but would never admit to them. Michael Kenny claims that the only person for whom James had any feelings was his wife Ellen, for he barely tolerated his children. The author describes how his father totally ruled the household, where his word was law. Some of his actions are inexplicable; he refused medical aid to his son Shem who had fallen from the top of scaffolding, and went to the pub while the rest of his family attended the funeral of his grandchild. For all his harshness, when his father died Michael reports that he had a good cry for a great father whose likes I will never see again . This is a story of one family, packed with detail and neatly fitted into the context of both time and place which makes it a fascinating account. The title I had assumed referred simply to the length of the marriage but I believe that, despite the obvious love between the pair, it truly was a marathon for James' long-suffering wife Ellen. Reviewed by Pauline Ferrie ISBN: 141201446-8 Price: ¥28.49 Pages: 506 Publisher: Trafford Date reviewed: 2004/02
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