Dear Old Donegal

Dear Old Donegal

by John O'Brien
A rollicking version of a favorite American success story -- that of the poor immigrant boy who makes his fortune in the United States --told in the lyrics of a song first published in 1942 and made popular by Bing Crosby.


A rollicking version of a favorite American success story -- that of the poor immigrant boy who makes his fortune in the United States --told in the lyrics of a song first published in 1942 and made popular by Bing Crosby.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-A picture-book version of a song written in the 1940s. O'Brien has taken Graham's original lyrics and fleshed out this charming account of a successful immigrant's return to his homeland. The lyrics tell of young Patrick McGuigan, who sails to New York in search of wealth and actually does strike it rich. In his prosperity, he returns home to visit. But the years have clouded his memory and he must rely upon his mother to reintroduce many family members and old friends. Children will love listening to and memorizing the litany of rhyming Irish names as well as singing along with the narrator. Piano notation and guitar chords (not on the endpapers, thank goodness!) are included, as well as notes about the song's origin and history. Through his distinctive illustrations, O'Brien adds personality to the narrator, especially when his young hero sails off alone to an unknown country and during those early lean years. The illustrator's smiling but hollow-eyed characters look like cheerful cousins to characters created by Edward Gorey and Victoria Chess. His pen-and-ink curlicues and pointillistic watercolors go on to reveal almost the whole of Ireland out to welcome their successful compatriot and celebrate his return. Great crowds of these green-clad folks play, sing, and dance their ways back into Patrick's heart and into the hearts of readers, too. Stock up for Saint Patrick's Day!-Jeanne Clancy Watkins, Upper Merion Township Library, King of Prussia, PA
Ilene Cooper
Although it will probably be new to children, adults might remember this song popular during the 1940s. The bouncy tune (music and lyrics appear on both the first and last two-page spreads) tells the story of a poor Irish boy who sails out of Cork and lands in New York, where he makes a success. Then it's a triumphant return to Ireland, where the young man will "shake hands with all of the neighbors / And kiss the colleens all--/ You're as welcome as the flow'rs in May / To dear old Donegal." The rollicking lyric works just fine as a rhyming text and is jauntily illustrated with crosshatch-and-watercolor paintings that feature an Ireland of a different era, where all the citizens wear a touch o' the green. An afterword describes Irish immigration and tells reader that "Dear Old Donegal" is an example of the sentimentalized notion of the old country that is still popular. A good choice for Saint Patrick's Day story hours.
Kirkus Reviews
A flat, unimaginative book based on a tune made popular by Bing Crosby and best known for its chorus of rhyming Irish names: "Meet Branigan, Fannigan, Milligan, Gilligan, Duffy, McCuffy," etc. O'Brien (The Twelve Days of Christmas, 1993, not reviewed, etc.) follows a lad out of Cork who rises from street-singing urchin (where improbably, a woman drops dollars in his box) to concert hall tenor with his name up in lights. Rags to riches appears to be so rapid (taking place in one spread) that when the singer, still a young man, returns to "dear old Erin's isle," the elaborate reintroduction is hardly necessary; he's a little larger and in long pants, but to the picture book audience, it won't seem as if he's been away very long. He's welcomed back with an endless parade of colleens, "jauntin' cars," pipers, flag-wavers, and dancers. The smiling cartoon people look uniformly glassy-eyed; soon the celebration wears thin and the homecoming loses its vigor. The full song appears on the endpapers.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.26(w) x 10.26(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

John O'Brien is a well-known NEW YORKER cartoonist. For Clarion, he has illustrated DEAR OLD DONEGAL

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >