On an Irish Island: The Lost World of the Great Blasket

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2013 - History - 320 pages
2 Reviews

On an Irish Island tells the remarkable story of a remote outpost nearly untouched by time in the first half of the twentieth century, and of the adventurous men and women who visited and were inspired by it.

In a love letter to a vanished way of life, Robert Kanigel brings to life this wildly beautiful island, notable for the vivid communal life of its residents and the unadulterated Irish they spoke well into the twentieth century. With the Irish language rapidly disappearing, Great Blasket became a magnet for scholars, linguists, and writers during the Gaelic renaissance. As we follow these visitors—among them John Millington Synge, author of The Playboy of the Western World—we are captivated both by the tiny group of islanders who kept an entire country's past alive and by their complex relationships with those who brought the island's story to the larger world.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - stevesmits - LibraryThing

I read "The Islandman" years ago when living in Ireland after visiting Slea Head on the Dingle peninsula and seeing the Blaskets across the sound; it's intriguing to imagine the tiny community on that ... Read full review

On an Irish Island

User Review  - Hanna Clutterbuck - Book Verdict

Kanigel (formerly science writing, MIT; The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan) aims to contextualize the early 20th-century literary and linguistic history of Great Blasket Island ... Read full review


The West 1905
The Fine Flower of Their Speech I907
Brians Chair 1917
Nice Boy with a Camera I923
Inishvickillaun 1926
The Last Quiet Time 1929 1 r I
Inrerminable Procession 1929 I44 9 Working at Irish 1932
Visitors Strangers Tourists Friends I937
A Green Irish Thread 1940 20 2
No Herb or Remedy 1946
The Bottom of the Garden 1950
A Dream ofYouth

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About the author (2013)

ROBERT KANIGEL is the author of six previous books. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Grady-Stack Award for science writing. His book The Man Who Knew Infinity was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Harvard Magazine, and Psychology Today. He has just retired as Professor of Science Writing at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and now lives in Baltimore.

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