"The poet W.B. Yeats desired to produce written work that, while it
had been arduously crafted, would appear as immediate and
spontaneous as the ordinary spoken words of people. It is a
testament to the achievement of Rory O'Connor that he has
accomplished just that by writing a memoir that connects closely to
the oral tradition. ... It could be hoped, perhaps, that every
community - urban and rural - would have a Rory O'Connor among them
who would possess the ability of capturing that society in all its
vitality, colour and mystery. If that were possible they would -
like this present book - make for fascinating reading." -Derek
Hand, Sunday Business Post. "I loved the book ... I carried Rory
O'Connor's vivid images and phrases around with me in my
imagination long after I had finished reading. He seems to have had
the type of magical, untrammelled childhood, populated with
extraordinary characters, to which we have all aspired." - Deirdre
Purcell. "Gander at the Gate is the best book of its kind since
Twenty Years A-Growing. It is vibrant, humorous, delightful,
nostalgic and deeply moving to the point of tears ... The
characters are wonderful, especially Uncle Jack, who deserves a
book to himself sometime. This is a book full of the magical
lunacies of a family and it is also a history of a troubled time in
which the author's father was a major figure ... I shall read it
again and again." - John B. Keane. "Rory O'Connor is a gifted
writer, so gifted, in fact, that he can turn the reader into a
listener. O'Connor's style of writing is also a style of oral
telling. And he is a master storyteller, evoking what he calls "the
wonders of life" with consummate skill. He deals with a past that
ranges from the gentle to the murderous, the violent and grim to
the humorous and fantastical. Gander at the Gate is completely
authentic, a gripping feat of memory, a candid, detailed evocation
of a lost world." -Brendan Kennelly. Knocknagoshel, north Kerry, in
the 1930s. Autumn mornings with mist rolling over a 'kindly and
fertile land'; the pungent smoke of turf fires; open-air wrestling
contest; convoys of tinkers with their piebald ponies; farm boys
and servant girls aching with desire; and a cast of remarkable men
and even more remarkable women, fiery and forthright, their lives
'teeming with the emotions of love and jealousy, and human
conflict, common among all the simple people of the world'. Through
the lyrical prose of Rory O'Connor, Gander at the Gate tells of an
Irish farmhouse, the family who lived there, and the community of
which they were part. We discover the imaginings and adventures of
the local 'goboys'; the widow Delia and her sons lost to America;
and the eccentric Uncle Jack, full of 'riddles, and recitations,
and the latest rhymes and small poems'. As the gander of the title
- the fiercest beast of the farmyard - begins to intrude on his
consciousness, O'Connor describes his father's experience of
Ireland's civil war. This is the most magical evocation of people
and place to be published in recent Irish literature. Rory O'Connor
gives a potent life to the ghosts of time in a book that has all
the hallmarks of a classic.
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