Skelligs Calling: A Memoir of Social Life in Nineteenth-Century Donegal
Michael Kirby (Editor)
Page count: 176 pages
File size: 386 KB
‘Kirby claims he was born with the sea in his blood. That may well be, but he was also born with words already formed in his head. He writes charmingly with colour, fun, and a flair few others have ever bettered … That a man of such an age could summon up the energy and motivation to write with such committed endeavour, care and beauty is a magnificent triumph of giving us everything he has to offer … Michael Kirby claims he once heard a razorbill singing in Irish, and who am I to argue? For, make no mistake, this is a book set apart, a classic of its kind by a man set apart who describes a place set apart in a charmingly set apart way.’- Tom Widger, Sunday Tribune With the ‘sea in his blood’, Michael Kirby has spent nearly a century in a deep bond with the people, animals and landscapes of the south Iveragh Peninsula in Kerry. And throughout his remarkable life, he has lovingly recorded all that he has seen, on land and on the ocean wave. Here are stories of spectral ships, enchanted seals and seabirds ‘speaking in perfect Irish’; shipwrecks, smugglers and sword-wielding coastguards; and characters like Seamus Fada (‘an expert on astronomy and cures for smelly feet’) and beachcomber Jamesie Stock (‘like a cormorant on a rock, not even a bottle floated ashore but Jamesie’s watchful eye floated beside it’). Spanning nine decades of local lore, Kirby tells the history of Ballinskelligs Cable Station; explains the deadly workings of second world war mines; recalls his hard times on the railroads of Depression-era America; and recounts his and his father’s dramatic struggle with a man-eating shark. Completing the cycle begun with Skelligside, this second volume of memoir fuses traditional storytelling with the keen observations of a first-class naturalist to create a lyrical vision of a world and a way of life now almost lost.