Homesick for a country which has never been home?

TalkIrish Librarythingers

Join LibraryThing to post.

Homesick for a country which has never been home?

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Edited: Mar 23, 2016, 10:45am

On my first trip across the pond at the age of 45, I spent a little over two weeks living in the west of Ireland, living a week in a remote inland cottage; then a week in a seaside village apartment. As soon as my flight left Shannon for JFK Airport, I felt a wave of homesickness come over me for the first time in my life.

I've lived in four cities in the US in my life, and never looked back after any move. But before the plane landed at JFK, I had already promised to return as often as possible, and to explore ways to make a long-term move to Ireland.

There are books which, in many different ways, feed this hunger and/or make it stronger. For me, what comes to mind are The All of It by Jeannette Haien, McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy, M. J. Quinn's Home Turf, Confessions of an Altar Boy by Tom O'Brien , and Colm Toibin's Heather Blazing. I suspect James Joyce's writings do this, but I've not tackled Joyce yet. (for some reason, Tom O'Brien and M. J. Quinn's touchstones don't seem to work).

Maugham wrote (and I'll condense and paraphrase as best I can) that some are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid their surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not, and the places they live remain but a place of passage. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in search for something permanent. Sometimes one hits upon a place to which one mysteriously feels that belonging. Here is the home sought, and one will settle amid scenes that one has never seen before, among people never before known, as thought they were familiar from birth. Here, at last, rest is found.

I think many people have had this experience upon visiting Ireland. This topic is for anyone who has experienced this tie to the Emerald Isles, or for anyone who has a book to recommend that leaves the reader with a strong sense of being in the place or among the people, somewhere in Ireland. I hope this strikes a chord.


May 5, 2007, 4:07pm

Beware of getting that sense of place from books which describe an Ireland which no longer exists. Twentieth-century Ireland is a popular commodity, but it's gone from the real world.

I recommend adding The Pope's children : Ireland's new elite into the mix.

Edited: May 5, 2007, 7:28pm

>2 TheBeerNut:

Yes, it's changed quite a bit just since the tech boom. Perhaps I should have said "strong sense of being in the place and time", as Joyce's Ireland is very different from Toibin's. And, as with most places, urban areas usually lead the change, as Dublin has generally done for Ireland.

Not so much for a sense of place, but a realistic sense of Ireland today, there's The Truth About the Irish. Like any place and any people, there's the good and the bad, and like any people dealing with major change, there's the good and the bad.


Edited: May 10, 2007, 10:57am

I've been told by those who were there that The Talk of the Town by Ardal O'Hanlon gives a disturbingly accurate picture of life in south County Monaghan in the early 1980s.

(Edit: It seems that in the US it's called Knick Knack Paddy Whack for some reason.)

May 10, 2007, 11:56am

This message has been deleted by its author.

6TyroneMinx First Message
Jul 16, 2007, 9:12am

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I first came to Northern Ireland in 2002. Five years later, I've lived in three different counties of the north and have loved every one of them. I now make the rural mountains of western Co Tyrone my home with my Irish husband. Ireland (north, south, east and west) is a place with which it is easy to fall in love. But, it is also a place of which far too many Americans have poorly rendered notions. It is worth taking into account the warnings given by others here, but, as one who loves her new home and would not leave it for more than a few weeks, it is worth it to explore your attraction and to see if it is place you can call home.
For me, the poetry of Seamus Heaney is evocative of this place and of the people who live here. Try Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 for a good, broad view of his work.

Jul 16, 2007, 9:55am

In his latest book Booking Passage, we Irish & Americans the poet Thomas Lynch writes about "his home away from home" in county Clare Ireland & the home he was born to in Michigan where his famliy & business are. It is a thought provoking work about being part of 2 cultures & the journeys between them.

Aug 2, 2007, 5:00pm

becket left
joyce left.
yeats stayed but i wish the boring fart had left.
cant wait to follow so i can see why you all think our stinking little money hungry island is so great

Apr 21, 2014, 12:06am

For sure, Ireland is not the "Land of Lucky Charms," but when it came time for me to write a novel, the Muse said Ireland was to be the setting. You don't fight with the Muse.

Mar 8, 2016, 11:44am

I, too, have a deep homesickness for Ireland, though I've never lived there. I have distant ancestry from there (DNA says I'm, 11% Irish), and I've visited 5 times, and long to live there. Alas, unless I can get a job there, and convince the husband on the move, I shall have to pine away in unrequited desire. Instead, I write books about Ireland. One guide on how to plan your own trip to Ireland, and several historical fantasy novels set in Ireland. Right now I'm working on a novelization of the Children of Lir.

Mar 8, 2016, 11:45am

I am under few illusions of what living in Ireland is actually like. I have an American friend who has lived there for 15 years, and has banished my rose-colored glasses. But the land still holds magic for me.