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Galway Bay Hardcover – February 9, 2009

228 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kelly uses a well-known chapter in Irish American history as a springboard for a vividly lavish historical novel. The mid-nineteenth-century potato famine in Ireland resulted in approximately one million deaths and one million emigrations. After leaving a desperate and depleted Ireland, Michael and Honora Kelly make their way to America. Eventually settling in Chicago, the Kellys and their children struggle to survive and thrive in the “Promised Land.” This multigenerational family saga mirrors the experiences of countless other immigrants who transformed both their own lives and the face of America. Kelly does an admirable job of conveying both the despair and the determination that gripped a generation of Irish immigrants. Through the eyes of the extended Kelly clan, the reader is treated to a panoramic overview of the Irish American experience. --Margaret Flanagan


"After reading her novel, Galway Bay, you might wonder if Mary Pat Kelly knows everything about 19th century Ireland, the Great Famine, and the emigrant experience in America. But it's her exploration of the human heart that moves you. Against landscapes beautiful and bleak she brings her characters to unforgettable life. As they say in Ireland, 'Take your ease with this book.' You'll need time for laughter and tears and pure magic."—--Frank McCourt, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of ANGELA'S ASHES

"Historically accurate epic of the Irish potato famine veers into gothic romance territory but keeps its eye on the Fenian prize. A satisfying tale, with few surprises for those who know the territory, but no false steps."—--Kirkus

Mary Pat Kelly's GALWAY BAY combines two traditional Irish gifts--the gift of hypnotic storytelling, and the gift of rich poetic language. It enables us to see the Irish, and Irish-American experience, in a way we would never have imagined."—--Mary Gordon, bestselling author of MEN AND ANGELS

"GALWAY BAY" is a wonderful story of triumph against the odds. It's the story of the Irish in America: what they gave and what was given, the things they lost and what was never lost--humor and faith and a strong belief that tomorrow would be a better day. Kelly's knowledge of Ireland and Irish-American history is awesome."—--Patricia Harty, Co-Founder of IRISH AMERICA MAGAZINE

"GALWAY BAY is a lyrical mix of history, romance and riveting narrative. A wonderfully rich, rousing, engaging tale of Irish survival and triumph, it brings enlightenment as well as enjoyment. Mary Pat Kelly's prowess as a storyteller enlivens every page."—--Peter Quinn, American-Book-Award-winning author of BANISHED CHILDREN OF EVE

"In this engaging novel, Mary Pat Kelly brings to life a critical era of Irish-American life, illuminating a part of our history that remains too little known."—--Eric Foner, Bancroft-Prize-winning author and Columbia University Professor

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446579009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446579001
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #792,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 135 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Taylor VINE VOICE on February 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Not knowing much about Irish history, and only knowing that in the 19th century there was something called the potato famine, I looked forward to reading Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly. I learned an enormous amount about Irish history and the horrors of the potato famine.

Galway Bay is the story of the Kelly family starting in the "before times", that time before The Great Starvation. The inhumanity shown the Irish by the English, the landlords, and the agents, during the potato famine is incredible, treating the Irish as less than human. But the Kelly family vows to survive, and survive they do--on less food than many of us throw away in one day. As more and more Irish die of starvation, the English have great plans for taking over the land left idle and so begin evicting those who remain. With nowhere to go, the Kelly's make their way to America, first to New Orleans and then Chicago.

This is a marvelous sweeping family saga told with an ear to the Irish bent to storytelling. The story swept me in and held my attention with every page. Honora Kelly, the main character telling the story, was actually a real person, the great-great-grandmother of the author. She is perhaps the strongest woman I have ever read about, surviving unbelievable hardships all the while loving and raising her children and making her way in America. This is a woman I will long remember.

If I had one complaint, it would be that the story of their time in New Orleans and Chicago was not long enough. I wish the author had added another 100 or so pages and made this time longer. The description of the life and times of early Chicago was just fascinating and I would have loved to read more.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Ann Allyn Slessman on February 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mary Pat Kelly
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-446-57900-1
551 pages
Reviewer: Annie Slessman wow again! Mary Pat Kelly's new novel, Galway Bay, is one of the best-written works of fiction I have read this year. Containing the history of the blight that killed so many crops and people in Ireland in the 1800s. Horror stories of people lying dead in their homes from starvation will stay with the reader for a long time.

The story's main character, Honora Keeley Kelly, born in 1822 marries at age 16 when Michael Kelly emerges from the sea and captivates her heart. Kelly is a wanderer, equestrian extraordinaire, blacksmith and soon to be, farmer that keeps his family close and learns to love the land. The story of Honora and Michael's family members brings a reader to tears and strengthens their own resolve to be stronger in the face of adversity.

When the blight ends, Michael and Honora finally have a wonderful crop to see them through the year without the threat of starvation. Their joy is short lived when the soldiers take their crops and threaten to take their lives.

Several heroes materialize in this story. Honora, Michael, Michael's rebellious brother, Patrick Kelly and Honora's sister, Maire. Patrick sparks the Irish rebellion and takes his fight to Amerikay (America) to build strong opposition to the current government and landowners (mostly English) in Ireland. Maire sacrifices herself when a landowner threatens to take Honora as his own. Maire has lost her husband to the sea and feels she is better equipped to handle the landowners demands than Honora.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Mcguire on February 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this book if you are looking for richly drawn characters and a compelling story.

Author Kelly relates the saga of her great, great grandmother, Honora Kelly. After losing her husband to the famine in Ireland, Honora journeys to America with her five children and settles in Chicago.

Kelly's descriptive writing captures what life in 19th century Ireland and Chicago must have been like.

For lovers of historical fiction and the telling of a good tale, "Galway Bay" is a must read.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By L. Phipps on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is interesting and I love the Ireland saga. It just was too long and at the end I felt like it became too much of a documentary towards the end and not enough of a story. My Grandfather came from Ireland and always told stories so anything to do with Irish heritage I love. One of the best books I have read was "Gracelin O'Malley" written by Ann Moore the trilogy of books to me was far superior and much more real. I give Mrs. Kelly a lot of kudos' for writing and do so much research I just wish she would have made the novel; 100 pages less. She is a talented writer and for all of our ancestors we owe so much. I doubt many of us would have survived what the Kelly's did. It is still worth the read you just might get a little weary by the end.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rosemary Snyder on February 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In the romantic comedy, Jerry Mcguire Tom Cruise's character, walks into a room filled with women and makes a heartfelt plea to win back the love of his life, the character (Dorothy Boyd) played by Renee Zellweger.

The famous line "You complete me was followed by, "Shut up, Just shut up, you had me at hello"

Before I even began reading Galway Bay, the spectacularly written and meticulously researched epic novel, by Mary Pat Kelly, the words in the prologue grabbed me and pulled me in immediately.

"We starved. More than a million dead...most of them in the West, which was only a quarter of the country, with Ireland itself just half the size of Illinois. A small place to hold so much suffering. But we didn't all die. Two million of us escaped one reaching back for the next.

Surely one of the great rescues in human history. We saved ourselves, helped only by God and our own strong faith. Now look at us, doing well all over the world. We didn't die."

I would just like to say,
"Mary Pat Kelly, You had me
when I read the words

"one reaching back for the next"

My Dads Parents, Bill and May Durkin arrived in Chicago by boat to make a new life for themselves and time after time,again and again, they

"reached back for their brothers and sisters, and Aunts and Uncles.

Each one of them, at one time or another, lived with my Father and his family until they were able to find jobs and get themselves settled, and grandparents would send for another.

I highly recommend this treasure of a book to everyone regardless of your nationality. We are all the descendants of courageous immigrants who arrived in our country.
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