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Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?: A Memoir

by Seamas O'Reilly

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17813156,131 (4.17)43
Biography & Autobiography. Family & Relationships. History. Nonfiction. HTML:“In this joyous, wildly unconventional memoir, Séamas O'Reilly tells the story of losing his mother as a child and growing up with ten siblings in Northern Ireland during the final years of the Troubles as a raucous comedy, a grand caper that is absolutely bursting with life.”?Patrick Radden Keefe, NYT bestselling author of Say Nothing and Empire of Pain
Séamas O’Reilly’s mother died when he was five, leaving him, his ten (!) brothers and sisters, and their beloved father in their sprawling bungalow in rural Derry. It was the 1990s; the Troubles were a background rumble, but Séamas was more preoccupied with dinosaurs, Star Wars, and the actual location of heaven than the political climate.
­
An instant bestseller in Ireland, Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? is a book about a family of loud, argumentative, musical, sarcastic, grief-stricken siblings, shepherded into adulthood by a man whose foibles and reticence were matched only by his love for his children and his determination that they would flourish.
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Recommended by Ben

A tragicomic memoir of growing up in Northern Ireland toward the end of the Troubles, as one of eleven children raised by their father after the death of their mother from cancer.

Quotes

It's an odd thing to realise how much of your homeland you've internalised, the unspoken assumptions, latent behaviours and rigid rhythms of thought that were baked into your breast before you were conscious it was happening. (120)

Maybe the archive was my dad's way of making sense out of chaos, to create a system, however arbitrary, that could approximate all the ordered specificity our world must have lacked at that time...
And I think our love of archiving is the biggest thing [I have in common with my father], a bulwark against the terror of losing. Everything in its one right, good and true place, safe from harm. (192)

I was so young when Mammy died that I sometimes felt as though I didn't know her well enough to grieve the same way my older siblings did, and that it was somehow false for me to claim the same pain as them. I think I've struggled with the shame of this my entire life. I did not experience the same grief as other members of my family, or friends who've been similarly bereaved, because it happened before I was able to understand it. (223) ( )
  JennyArch | Oct 23, 2023 |
Seamas O’Reilly’s mother died of cancer when he was just five years old, leaving her husband and ten other children (Seamas is the ninth). In his memoir, Seamas describes his childhood in Derry as part of an unusually large family with a devoted father who managed to keep everything together despite the tragic circumstances. There is a lot of humor in this book, like the story of a family holiday to Spain traveling in their family bus, towing a caravan. But this book is more than just light, humorous prose and anecdotes about being part of a large family. It is a memorial to a mother he never really knew, and a tribute to Seamas’ father, who made sure the children’s needs were met and, more importantly, that they knew they were loved. ( )
  lauralkeet | Nov 1, 2022 |
So funny, albeit sad, and different enough from my own life that I was completely enveloped in the world of the O'Reillys and their families and neighbors. The author has an excellent writing style. ( )
  HeatherMoss | Sep 12, 2022 |
Seamas O'Reilly is the 9th of 11 children, and his mother died when he was five. These two facts may have defined his childhood, but only give you the bare facts of this hilarious and poignant memoir.

Told in anecdotes of growing up Catholic in Northern Ireland just after the Troubles, the memoir feels like a friend coming up to you and sharing some personal stories. Despite the title, Seamas' father features quite prominently, raising his children successfully after the death of their mother. There are moments of sadness and reflection, but the entire book is shot through with humor, whether it be a riff on how terrible fruit cakes are, or a child being a child at a funeral (I remember one of my own cousins doing something that had us giggling in the church pews). If you are inclined to read audiobooks, I highly recommend this one read by the author. He has an even, straightforward way of telling it that makes the emotional all the more poignant, and I appreciated hearing his accent and pronunciation of his siblings' names. ( )
  bell7 | Aug 15, 2022 |
Hysterically funny and poignant. Proof of the expression: the English invented the language but the Irish showed us how to use it. ( )
  geraldinefm | Aug 8, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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Biography & Autobiography. Family & Relationships. History. Nonfiction. HTML:“In this joyous, wildly unconventional memoir, Séamas O'Reilly tells the story of losing his mother as a child and growing up with ten siblings in Northern Ireland during the final years of the Troubles as a raucous comedy, a grand caper that is absolutely bursting with life.”?Patrick Radden Keefe, NYT bestselling author of Say Nothing and Empire of Pain
Séamas O’Reilly’s mother died when he was five, leaving him, his ten (!) brothers and sisters, and their beloved father in their sprawling bungalow in rural Derry. It was the 1990s; the Troubles were a background rumble, but Séamas was more preoccupied with dinosaurs, Star Wars, and the actual location of heaven than the political climate.
­
An instant bestseller in Ireland, Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? is a book about a family of loud, argumentative, musical, sarcastic, grief-stricken siblings, shepherded into adulthood by a man whose foibles and reticence were matched only by his love for his children and his determination that they would flourish.

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