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Going Home to Galway Bay

It's been one year since Mary Pat Kelly launched her novel, Galway Bay right here on Daily Grommet -- and we made a lifelong friend at the same time. Over these past months, we've continued to get emails and updates from Mary Pat, and have enjoyed seeing how many folks feel a connection to her story about the immigrant experience. So in honor of St. Patrick's Day, we'd like to share her latest letter with you. And if you leave a comment below, you could win a "green" Nightstar, LED shake-powered flashlight (see the Giveaway Rules below). 

Galway Bay, a novel about the Irish American experience

Dear Daily Grommet readers,

Exactly a year ago on St Patrick's Day, I launched my historical novel, Galway Bay, with an interview and conversation with the Daily Grommet community. Very appropriate since Galway Bay has an Irish theme and I used the life of my own great-great grandmother Honora Keeley Kelly to tell the story of the Great Starvation of 1840's Ireland and the immigration of two million Irish to America.

In the last year I've traveled all over the country to bookstores, libraries, cultural centers, Irish festivals and met with book clubs in private homes. The response has been gratifying--Galway Bay is in it's 4th printing and made the best seller list in Boston and Chicago. I am delighted and grateful to my readers. BUT for me the best part of my appearances comes when someone says, "Reading your book made me interested in my own family's history."

"Great!!" I tell them. "That's why I wrote Galway Bay."

Mary Pat Kelly, author, Daily GrommetI believe every family has a "rousingly epic" story to tell. All of our ancestors from whatever tradition survived great adversity to give us the lives we led. History sometimes seems so remote but when you realize that our great-great grandparents endured war or famine or genocide or the Middle Passage--all the horrors we read about and yet they managed to live and start families and we are their victory. So as we celebrate St Patrick's Day and the heritage of 44 million Irish Americans I want to thank all of you who connect through Daily Grommet for embracing Galway Bay and hope that you will find inspiration in your family's story.


Mary Pat

General contest rules: To enter, you must be a U. S. resident, and at least 18 years of age and you must leave a comment or question on today's post. No purchase necessary. The winner will be randomly selected and will receive a win a "green" Nightstar, LED shake-powered flashlight. Employees, contractors, and the families of employees and contractors of Daily Grommet, Inc. are not eligible to enter. You are not eligible to win if you have received a prize or giveaway from Daily Grommet in the last six months. Void where prohibited. Contest will run from 10:30 am EST through 10:30 pm EST March 17, 2010.


  • Cindy Merrill Says:

    I have some questions about how the Irish who lived through the famine survived: I heard parsnips were a major crop, and food from the sea would be possible- anything else?

  • Julia Says:

    My biological father's family's roots are in Scotland and Ireland. I used to try to research my genealogy as a young teenager, and I wish more kids were interested in their family history. There is so much information available via the Internet these days, and we stand to learn so much from our past. As the saying goes, you can't know where you're headed until you know where you came from. (And, yes, I just ended a sentence in a preposition!) I missed the launch of this book a year ago, but I'll have to get my hands on a copy now that I know about it.

  • Catherine Delgado Says:

    In honor of my great grandmother Mary Lynch who came from Carigallen in Co. Leitrim, we make her Boxty recipe on Saint Patrick's day, instead of serving the typical Corned Beef and Cabbage. (we eat corned beef later in the week) Her Boxty recipe is unlike any other that I had found in many Irish recipe books. Our whole family just loves it, and I believe that this recipe actually came before the famine, as many potato dishes that originated in Ireland do. Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

  • Jeanne Says:

    Hi all - thanks for your comments. Cindy, as you can imagine, Mary Pat was very busy yesterday but I emailed her your question and she'll drop in to post a reply or send one to me shortly.

    Julia - I've always loved that saying, and days like St. Paddy's certainly make you appreciate your heritage. Catherine, we'd love to get that recipe, will you share it or is it a secret family recipe?

    Now to our Giveaway: Using Random.org, we pulled a number ... and Cindy, you're today's winner - congratulations! Please drop me an email with your mailing address (jeanne @ dailygrommet .com) and we'll get your lucky green flashlight right out to you.

    Enjoy your day everyone!

  • Jeanne Says:

    Just heard back from Mary Pat in answer to your question, Cindy:

    "Turnips helped and seaweed helped. Fish were a problem -- there were bad storms and the fisherman had to pawn their nets. Besides that, the fish in the rivers belonged to the landlords and you could be arrested for fishing!!"

    When you read the book you get such a vivid sense of the devastation and toll that the starvation took on the people of Ireland of this time. It certainly makes you appreciate their will to survive -- and the miracle of their ability to begin new and to reach such levels of success, here in America!

  • tanelle Says:

    I will have to get a copy of this book! I made a 2 week trip to ireland in 2005 with a friend after wanting to do so forever!, I had named my daugher Erin in honor of the most beautiful place on earth!. I had such a good time she has asked me to take her for her senior trip when she graduates. My ancestors are from Ireland on my fathers side and when during my trip I would hear and read of the immigration details I was saddened but interested in learning more details. I watched the Saimsa Tire ( hope I spelled it right ) national theatre one evening and they sang and acted a number about the immigration and I didnt understand a word as it was all sung in the Gaelic, but I didnt need to, there was hardly a dry eye in the place including mine as it was heart wrenching and beautiful. I hope to see them again and communicate to my daughter what her ancestors went through all in the name of survival that we take for granted today. Thank you for researching and writing about your family. Tanelle

  • Jeanne Says:

    Tanelle, thanks for sharing your own experience and connection to Ireland with us (love the name Erin!). And you're right, Mary Pat's passion is the what draws you to this story; so difficult to think about the difficulties the Irish faced - and yet, so inspiring to think that today's vibrant Irish-American community is their legacy and testimony to their brave persistence!

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