Charlie Connelly may have had to dig a little deeper than he originally anticipated in order to unearth his Irish roots but it is us lucky readers who benefit from all this additional delving. Casting a benevolent outsider’s eye over our turbulent history and the many ticks and quirks that make us what we are, Connelly characteristically wears his considerable knowledge lightly and packs an impressive amount of social history into a very entertaining ramble around our little island. At a time when we are perhaps losing sight of our national identity it is reassuring to read such a clear, insightful and humorous celebration of where we come from and who we are. For the past couple of years, Connelly has made his home here amongst us and it is truly wonderful to experience the enthusiasm and genuine affection he feels for our beleaguered little nation leaping from the pages of this book.
Some of my favourite quotes:
“As I emerged into adulthood my coquettish glances across the Irish Sea became more lingering and during the nineties began to turn into an obsession.”
“There hadn’t been a decent Marian apparition in Ireland for a good fifteen years; the length of the boom in fact.”
“In the window of one shop, in the midst of the Padre Pios, Virgin Marys and backlit portraits of Pope John Paul II in front of a moving waterfall was a plastic Liverpool FC clock.”