BOOK REVIEW: HOUSE ON AN IRISH HILLSIDE


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TITLE:  The House on an Irish Hillside

AUTHOR: Felicity Hayes McCoy

BLURB: ‘From the moment I crossed the mountain I fell in love. With the place, which was more beautiful than any place I’d ever seen. With the people I met there. And with a way of looking at life that was deeper, richer and wiser than any I’d known before. When I left I dreamt of clouds on the mountain. I kept going back.’

House On An Irish Hillside by Felicity Hayes-McCoy was a bit of a shot in the dark for me because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I bought the book because I wanted to read more autobiographical or memoir based writing to help me with another project I’m working on and so the concept seemed appropriate. In fact, the book, while most definitely a memoir, is much more significant than simply an account of one life (or in this case two). It captured a snapshot of a country way of life and culture that, despite the fact I was born and raised a city boy in Dublin, was woven into the general culture of Ireland and resonated with my own life experiences.

I will confess that at the outset I found the language and the descriptive nature of the writing a little over the top for my tastes, but I soon began to realise there was a lyrical, almost poetic or musical, quality to it that reflected the part story and rhythm played in the account of the author’s life and her awakening to what was important to her.

A lot of the myths and legends retold throughout the book would be familiar to most Irish people but many had added significance and meaning because of the depth of the author’s knowledge and the particular vision she brings to the stories.

Mostly the book rang true for me in the way it honours a way of life that is more natural than any we currently subscribe to and a value system that would be a shame to see disappear.

I’m very glad I found this book and will treasure the memories and insights it invoked for me, as well as the call-to-arms it inadvertently challenges us to see the value in simple things, respect the rhythm of the seasons and honour our ancestors by never letting them disappear into a forgotten past.

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