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Light of the Diddicoy

Light of the Diddicoy

4.0 3
by Eamon Loingsigh, Peter Carlaftes (Editor)

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Light of the Diddicoy is the riveting and immersive saga of Irish gangs on the Brooklyn waterfront in the early part of the 20th century, told through the eyes of young newcomer Liam Garrity. Forced at age 14 to travel alone to America after money grew scarce in Ireland, Garrity stumbles directly into the hard-knock streets of the Irish-run waterfront and


Light of the Diddicoy is the riveting and immersive saga of Irish gangs on the Brooklyn waterfront in the early part of the 20th century, told through the eyes of young newcomer Liam Garrity. Forced at age 14 to travel alone to America after money grew scarce in Ireland, Garrity stumbles directly into the hard-knock streets of the Irish-run waterfront and falls in with a Bridge District gang called the White Hand. Through a series of increasingly tense and brutal scenes, he has no choice but to use any means necessary to survive and carve out his place in a no-holds-barred community living outside the law. The book is the first of Irish-American author Eamon Loingsigh's Auld Irishtown trilogy, which delves into the stories and lore of the gangs and families growing up in this under-documented area of Brooklyn’s Irish underworld.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Novelist Eamon Loingsigh has so comprehensively inhabited the teeming New York City of his debut novel Light of the Diddicoy that he captivates the reader from the first page. . . It’s a brutal story of Irish America that the author, whose family roots in the city are as deep as his characters, was apparently born to write. Loingsigh’s prose has immense narrative force, and his characters are innocents or chancers on the make who know there’ll be no second chances. . . This is wonderful pulp fiction that knows that one man’s tale can in fact tell the entire city’s." —Irish Central

"The dark and compelling Irish American gang lifestyle of early 1900s Brooklyn pulses through this sharp, hardboiled drama. Loingsigh’s book looks at a fascinating lifestyle drawn from his extensive research and his own family history." —Foreword Reviews

"[A] potent coming-of-age story . . . the first in a series about one man’s hardscrabble life. . . Rings with passion and pain. . . An engrossing read." —Kirkus Reviews

"An original and poetic coming-of-age story, Light of the Diddicoy touches on some fascinating material." —Historical Novel Society

"Eamon Loingsigh's book LIGHT OF THE DIDDICOY is an amazing series of literary leaps from terra firma into the stratosphere above. The writing embraces you, and his description of the savagery visited on poor people is offset by the humor and love of the traditional Irish community. Yes there is laughter here too and it is a grand read, leaving any reader fully sated. Don't leave the store without this book." —Malachy McCourt, author, A Monk Swimming, Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland

"Eamon Loingsigh is a poet with a pickaxe-and a scalpel attached to the working end. In LIGHT OF THE DIDDICOY, he depicts the Brooklyn Waterfront of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, and the Irish who controlled it, with hammer-blow prose and spare dialogue. Unsparing in his account of the prevailing violence he is eloquent in laying out the reasons why. Eamon Loingsigh, the meticulous historian, paints a rich picture. Mr. Loingsigh, the novelist, tells it like it was. And brilliantly so. LIGHT OF THE DIDDICOY is a great read." —Alphie McCourt author of A Long Stone's Throw and Heartscald

"This book unearths and brings to life a long-lost world of hard men and women struggling to get ahead in an America not yet fully formed. Gangsters and dock wallopers along the Brooklyn waterfront intermingle with dirty cops, labor rabble rousers and the unwashed masses of an Irish immigrant class bursting with pluck and vitality… LIGHT OF THE DIDDICOY is written with tremendous flavor and panache, and within its pages is a profound understanding that history is most present when revealed through the lives of characters in a story well told. Historical fiction at its best." —T.J. English, author of Paddy Whacked and The Westies

Kirkus Reviews
Privation, memory and regret combine to make an uneven but potent coming-of-age story in Loingsigh's book, the first in a series about one man's hardscrabble life. Fresh off the boat from Ireland, young William Garrihy—rechristened Garrity thanks to a typo at Ellis Island—comes to America in the early years of World War I, bearing his family's hopes for his new life. Although William has an uncle already living in Brooklyn, the family ties aren't enough to provide him with a new start, and he's soon on the street, starving and headed for a pauper's grave. Good fortune arrives, however, in the guise of Dinny Meehan, the local leader of the White Hand Gang and a rising player in the dockyards. Under Dinny's watchful eye and tutelage, William gains strength and the beginnings of respect in his new culture. However, his estranged uncle's union agitation and an earlier failure to defend himself have come to weigh on him in the eyes of Dinny's men, and clearing himself of that weight requires payment in blood. Loingsigh's narrative owes much to historical accounts and family lore; he easily evokes the poverty, pain and hard labor that made up the working experience of the immigrant class in early 20th-century New York, giving the story a grimy verisimilitude. Although many of the characters are stock, Loingsigh uses them effectively as background, focusing attention on Dinny and William, who's more poet than warrior, though he has the steel to commit violence when he must. The largest flaw the narrative has to overcome is the inconsistency in William's voice, particularly in his use of dialect and time-appropriate exposition. In some places, especially in the early chapters, Loingsigh uses dialect rendered so heavily (and phonetically) that there's considerable guesswork in figuring out what's being said. Furthermore, the shifting in perspective between first-person present and third-person past is inconsistent, and it's generally accompanied by changes in syntax and vocabulary that can throw the reader out of the flow. Despite these issues, the tale of William's early days rings with passion and pain, ultimately making for an engrossing read. Inconsistencies in voice and tone keep Loingsigh's compelling, authentic narrative from fully taking hold.

Product Details

Three Rooms Press
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Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

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Meet the Author

Novelist and poet Eamon Loingsigh’s family emigrated from Ireland in the late 19th century, and his grandfather and great-grandfather ran a longshoreman’s saloon on Hudson Street in Manhattan from 1906 to the late 1970s. The author of numerous articles on Irish American history, as well as the novella An Affair of Concoctions and the poetry collection Love and Maladies, he lives in St. Petersburg, FL.

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Light of the Diddicoy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very boots on the ground kind of book and writing. Language is powerful and filled with emotion and the struggle of an immigrant in  Brooklyn New York during the era. 
girlreader42 More than 1 year ago
This book is a great read! It makes you feel like you are immersed in New York a hundred years ago and trying to figure out the ways of the Irish gangs. The historical accuracy is phenominal and the brogue of the narrator is mesmerizing.