The Leaving of Loughrea
By Stephen Lally. Published by Authorhouse, Bloomington, IN. 2013. 179 pages.
The book is subtitled An Irish Family in the Great Famine.
There were a great number of Irish families in the Great Famine. Mr. Lally’s book brings this nearly-incomprehensible national tragedy down to a personal level when he recounts his ancestors’ dark times and toilsome efforts to escape their grim lives and simply survive in a world crowded with events beyond their comprehension and control.
Mr. Lally begins his story in Knockatogher, County Galway, Connaught province, in the west of Ireland. His focus is on Patrick Lally, his parents, his descendants and the exceedingly difficult course of his life.
The author writes: “In 1818 [Patrick] was born into a world where the concept of childhood didn’t exist and where, as soon as he was able, he had to take on adult responsibilities. Not for him the toys, books and clothes specially designed for his age or the special meals or preferential treatment. At a very young age he would have been expected to take on simple tasks on the six acres, such as bird scaring or scouring the soil for missed potatoes. He would have had to help with the spinning or run errands. At night he would have slept with his parents or with all the other children because there was nowhere else and that was normal and, in winter, it was the only way to keep warm.”
A desolate depiction of childhood.
Mr. Lally tells not only the story of his own family, but discusses the reasons for the whole historical state of affairs in Ireland. I'm in no position to judge his correctness, as I've never done Irish research nor Irish history, so I'll leave that determination to readers more knowledgeable than I.
Drawings illustrate the text. There is an absence of footnotes, and a rather short bibliography; this is a book written in a more casual and story-telling style than a scholarly one.
But the book certainly pulls the reader into the story and tells again the tragic Irish story.
The Leaving of Loughrea is available from the author at http://leavingofloughrea.com/ as well as in many bookstores. It is available from RootsBooks.com and from Amazon at http://goo.gl/AQ32V.