The Glen / An Gleann
Séamas Ó Maolchathaigh
Recollections from a Lost World.
This unique book describes a small Gaeltacht area in Munster that remained largely immune to outside influences because of its isolated location and where the Irish language survived amongst a small pocket of people until the mid-twentieth century.
Lovers, fighters, priests, poets, healers, wanderers, landlords, poachers.
People who were happy to till the land.
People who were kind but had all sorts of human foibles.
A cholera epidemic, suicides and a feud that tore apart one family with tragic consequences.
Love and joy and jealousy and death.
These are all here in abundance in this book, an abbreviated version of which was first published in Irish in 1963. This book is the hidden piece in the jigsaw that was rural Ireland in the decades prior to 1950. Not for Ó Maolchathaigh the rosy-tinted spectacles of a glorius past that was Irish and rural and where everyone loved one another. Writing from the “margins” in a language that even fewer people could read than can do today, Ó Maolchathaigh was an astute observer of people and place. His recollections of a “Lost World” are unique and searing in their honesty. His all-seeing eye saw the petty jealousies and hypocrisies of country and village life and he was not afraid to record them. In addition to leaving us with a unique social document, Ó Maolchathaigh was ahead of his time in exploring aspects of rural life considered taboo until recently.
Translated from the Irish by Mícheál Ó hAodha.