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Although unnerved by his experience, Danny begins an arduous journey that leads him back to the streets of Dublin, the tenement slums, and, ultimately, the malice and mischief of the Artane playground. What he discovers with each twist and turn of his odyssey will forever change his life. Elegantly written, this is a brutally honest, often harrowing, depiction of a young boy's struggle to survive orphanage life, and stands as an inspiring testament to the healing power of music and love.
A powerful book full of grit. determination, suffering, and deliverance, Danny Ellis' memoir is also a spiritual journey, a look into and an understanding of the depth of his soul. Black Daniel and the Gas Man appear as symbols of toughness and fear, threads that run through his life, especially at the Artane Industrial School, His story is compelling and his writing is a joy to read. While punishments meted out at the school are unbelievably cruel, there is also compassion in the most unlikely places. And of course, as in any Irish story, there is humor. I especially recommend this to any musician out there who enjoys seeing how music has enhanced, and redeemed, another's life.
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Posted April 22, 2014
Danny Ellis survived childhood in the infamous Irish orphanage called the Artane Industrial School. This book (The Boy at the Gate) is a memoir on how that experience shaped his life. We saw him in concert a week ago at a Sisters of St Francis event. His voice and song writing abilities are not to be missed. Listening to his CD (800 voices) while reading the story of loss, abandonment and redemption is an experience I won't forget soon.
In one sense, this is a horror story. An eight year old boy dropped off to be "cared for" by Catholic priests and eight hundred other boys. In another sense, it's a most beautiful story as Dano is saved by his innate talent and love for music. I couldn't put the book down, and now I'm sorry it's done.
As I write this note I'm listening to Dano sing. You need the book and the CD.