Twenty Years A-Growing
by Maurice O’Sullivan

Rendered from the original Irish with a Preface by
Moya Llewelyn Davies and George Thomson

Life on the Blasket Islands in the early part of the twentieth century is described in this autobiographical novel. Through the eyes of a young man, we experience the hardships and achievements of island life, the resourcefulness of the islanders and the links of community with the mainland. O’Sullivan’s story travels from his very early days in Dingle through his youth on the island and on to his leaving for Dublin as a young man. His memories are happy ones. He describes an innocent childhood, carefree, full of adventure and curiosity. Experiences, such as a day’s hunting, or meetings with a folklorist, and occasions such as the Ventry Races or a wedding celebration reveal a tolerant community where inter-dependence is accepted, generosity is the norm, and vigour is celebrated. Through stories and incident, the slight impact on their lives of a major historical event such as the First World War, is balanced with the greater impact of less tangible economic forces leading to emigration and the erosion of the cultural fabric of the island community. However, Twenty Years A-Growing is, above all, a celebration of a community rich in traditions and self-respect. Published in Irish originally, this translation is true to the rhythm of the language. The strong use of dialogue, the lyrical quality of the prose and the episodic structure of the text make Twenty Years A-growing both a stimulating and an easy read.

Fionnuala Hanrahan,
Wexford County Library.

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