Galway Bay

Galway Bay

by Mary Pat Kelly


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In the bestselling tradition of Frank Delaney, Colleen McCullough, and Maeve Binchy comes a poignant historical family saga set against the Famine.

In a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family. Because they and their countrymen must sell both their catch and their crops to pay exorbitant rents, potatoes have become their only staple food.

But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees—victims saving themselves—in the emigration from Ireland.

Danger and hardship await them in America. Honora, her unconventional sister Máire, and their seven sons help transform Chicago from a frontier town to the "City of the Century." The boys go on to fight in the Civil War and enlist in the cause of Ireland's freedom.

Spanning six generations and filled with joy, sadness, and heroism, GALWAY BAY sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today's forty-four million Irish Americans—and is a universal story you will never forget.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446697101
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 02/28/2011
Pages: 565
Sales rank: 51,626
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Mary Patricia Kelly is the author of a novel Special Intentions, and nonfiction on subjects as varied as Martin Scorsese and the rescue of Scott O'Grady from Bosnia. In her life, she has been everything from a nun to a documentary filmmaker to a producer of short films for "Saturday Night Live". She lives in New York City.

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Galway Bay 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
LavenderLace More than 1 year ago
This brilliant huge epic is loaded with amazing characters, great courage, strength and endurance. The novel begins in 1839. A fishing family and surrounding neighbors make a living in Galway Bay, Ireland. Sixteen year old, Honora Keeley, is to join the local convent, but a chance meeting with young Michael Kelly changes her thinking. The fascinating Irish myths, legends and history were interspersed throughout with Gaelic phrases and words. The injustices of the time will make you cry but the characters indomitable spirit and strength and resilience will make you proud. There was such misery under the British-induced starvation and economic despair, the Protestant hatred for the Catholics. There are great emotions, feelings of love and passion, laughs and sorrows, all persevering for the basics of providing for family. This is what it's all about. Brilliant book!
Jack_Tamar More than 1 year ago
One of the best written books I have ever read. It is a historic novel based on true events. I usually don't read a lot of fiction, but this novel is so factually accurate and thrilling it kept me riveted. One of the few books that appeals to both the romantic and history buff. Faugh-a-Ballagh
Slessman More than 1 year ago
Mary Pat Kelly
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-446-57900-1
551 pages
Reviewer: Annie Slessman

Wow¿wow..and wow again! Mary Pat Kelly¿s new novel, Galway Bay, is one of the best-written works of fiction I have read this year. Containing the history of the blight that killed so many crops and people in Ireland in the 1800s. Horror stories of people lying dead in their homes from starvation will stay with the reader for a long time.

The story¿s main character, Honora Keeley Kelly, born in 1822 marries at age 16 when Michael Kelly emerges from the sea and captivates her heart. Kelly is a wanderer, equestrian extraordinaire, blacksmith and soon to be, farmer that keeps his family close and learns to love the land. The story of Honora and Michael¿s family members brings a reader to tears and strengthens their own resolve to be stronger in the face of adversity.

When the blight ends, Michael and Honora finally have a wonderful crop to see them through the year without the threat of starvation. Their joy is short lived when the soldiers take their crops and threaten to take their lives.

Several heroes materialize in this story. Honora, Michael, Michael¿s rebellious brother, Patrick Kelly and Honora¿s sister, Maire. Patrick sparks the Irish rebellion and takes his fight to Amerikay (America) to build strong opposition to the current government and landowners (mostly English) in Ireland. Maire sacrifices herself when a landowner threatens to take Honora as his own. Maire has lost her husband to the sea and feels she is better equipped to handle the landowners demands than Honora.

The Kelly family¿s migration to Amerikay makes for some interesting reading as it includes a history of early Chicago and its demographic makeup.

The 551 pages of this work appear a bit intimidating. However, a reader will have no trouble getting through the work, as you will not be able to put it down until you have read the last word.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book held my attention all the way through. It was a "couldn't put it down" type novel. The plots were complex and spanned the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland to New Orleans to Chicago. You won't be disappointed!
Jozown More than 1 year ago
This book is captivating, especially if you have family from Ireland. I wa spell bound. I admit sometimes things were a bit drawn out but it did add to the drama. Loosely based on the trial of a real family, this book had someething for everyone, the warrior, the mother, the hard working, the scoundel and the survivor in us all. A great story aobut a great land and great family. I higjly recommend this book. I have already suggested it to friends and family. So I recommend it to you as well. This is a good summer read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Frank McCourt's commentary on the book mentions laughter and tears and this book did make me cry. The plot based around the potato famine and one family's immigration to America was educational and moving. You become involved with all the characters and there were many- alot of children to keep straight. I thought the story was going in one direction and it took a little turn in the middle which was a sad twist but probably true to history. It also reminds us of the importance of family and what they have to teach us that we may rarely take advantage of. A very good read and I would recommend it to anyone.
2manybooks2littletime More than 1 year ago
Extremely well written book with good solid characters that tell a story of a family over several generations as they struggle through the potato famine and overcome many hardships to get from Ireland to America and make a new life for themselves in a bustling Chicago of the mid 1800's. a book that you want to keep going and the story not end.
LibraryGirlReads More than 1 year ago
Galway Bay is an fantastic book. Kelly shows how the events of history unfold to affect one family and the impact over the generations. The characters in this book are amazing. Honora Kelly displays a great strength as she helps save her family from starvation, brings her children to America as a widow, and then worries for her boys as they fight in America's Civil War. As a reader, I could feel the strength of the emotions in this book as well as the pangs of their hunger. The characters truly come alive off the pages. Kelly sprinkles some Irish phrases into the dialogue which adds to the authentic feel of the book. There is a glossary in the back of the book which aids in understanding these terms although many can be understood simply from their place in the text. Through telling the story of one family, Kelly truly tells the tale of the millions who fled Ireland during the starvation to create new lives for themselves in America. I would highly recommend Galway Bay as a rich, historical novel and as a novel of family. The book also contains a reading guide which would make it an ideal book club selection.
Grace2133 More than 1 year ago
I have little background knowledge about Irish history. I know a little about the potato famine but my knowledge doesn't extend beyond that. I did study Italian immigration for my Bachelor's but that really does not lend itself to understanding Irish history, now does it? I was a bit worried when I picked up this book that I would become lost because of my lack of knowledge. I, however, found that it was not the case at all. The moment I began reading, I became immersed in the story. I cannot tell you how much Galway Bay entranced me from the very beginning. I absolutely loved every single aspect of this book. I felt every joy and sorrow the Kelly family went through as if it was happening to me. I felt each tragedy and hunger pang. I often had to put the book down because it became so emotionally draining. I think that is a credit to Mary Pat Kelly. Her writing style is so crisp and descriptive. You really feel the events of this book very deeply. There was an event midway through the book that hit me like a thunderbolt. I had no idea it was coming. I am not a very emotional person in most situation but I found myself tearing up while reading this book. I would recommend this book to anyone interested, even on the smallest level, in Irish history. Please don't be daunted by the size of the novel. It really is a quick read.
hsudonym on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
O us Irish descendants rejoice! Here is a book that breathes life into the perpetual struggle of the Irish people. I loved this book. In fact I wish I wrote it! Because of years of researching my genealogy, the story of my family has been brewing in my head. And Mary Pat Kelly wrote it! This story is rich- with love, history, death, betrayal and beauty. It is well written, lyrical and believable. Not since I read Frank Delaneys' Ireland have I felt so connected to my Irish ancestry. Thank you Ms. Kelly!!!!
dissed1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to love Galway Bay, by Mary Pat Kelly. I was hoping it would be one of those really great sagas that stay with you forever. Sadly, I couldn't put this book behind me quick enough.Much that I found fault with relates to Kelly's writing style. Not only did I find the dialogue to be a bit cloying, but more disappointing was her inability to bring her character's feelings across. There is never any proof or evidence of what her characters say they feel. They simply say it, (out of context), and so it should be. Additionally, for a novel supposedly about the hardships of the Irish people, the Kellys of the story always seem to come out on top; the magical Uncle Patrick never fails to show up just in the nick of time to save the day--for everyone--always. (Is that why Honora loves him?)I think Ms. Kelly had the elements at hand to create a memorable novel, but lacked the skill. Hype over this book has been widely exaggerated, in my opinion. I wish her editor had brought a stronger hand to the project.
coolpinkone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
. I will say that I love this book inside and out! It reminds me of other favorite great books such as The Thorn Birds, Angela's Ashes, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Angela's Ashes, East of Eden and the "Fambly" in Grapes of Wrath. It is a book about a family struggling in horrific circumstances, I love family sagas. I can't say enough about my journey into this book. Like so many powerful stories of oppression and tyranny this book pulled me through a range of emotions, laughter, tears, and truly heart breaking scenes. I can not recall more heroic characters than Micheal and Honora. Because in my opinion the most noble of people in life are a man and woman as mother and father working together for their family in the most simple in sincere life sustaining tasks. Once caught up in this story I didn't want to do anything else.This is definitely a favorite book of mine and I am pretty sure it will hold high rank for years to come.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On the cusp of entering a convent, sixteen year old Honora Keeley discovers a man in Galway Bay.He stood, foam swirling around his long legs, hands at his sides - not covering himself. Looking me right in the eye - smiling. ¿You¿re not drowning at all.¿ ¿I am,¿ he said. ¿I am drowning in your beauty. Are you a girl at all, or are you a mermaid?¿ - from Galway Bay, page 8 -Thus begins Mary Pat Kelly¿s novel Galway Bay - a book filled with memorable characters, and love of country and family. But, Galway Bay is first and foremost a family saga which spans nearly sixty years (between 1839 and 1893). It tells the story of the Kelly family- first in Ireland on Galway Bay and then as they move west to America and settle in Chicago. Historically, the novel covers a sad period in Irish history. The Great Starvation (1845 - 1852) killed approximately a million Irish men, women and children when blight wiped out the potato crops and the English government turned a blind eye to the tragedy. The Irish population was further reduced by another million due to mass emigration. Galway Bay¿s stalwart and courageous characters also experience the American Civil War(1861 - 1865), the assassination of President Lincoln (1865), the Great Chicago Fire (1871), and the Chicago World¿s Fair (1893).Mary Pat Kelly based her novel on her great-great grandmother Honora Kelly, and it is this character who drives the narrative through her determination to survive and carry the stories of Ireland all the way to America. Weaving together the lives of Honora, her siblings and parents, her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, Kelly unravels a history of the Irish people - including their lore, religion, and work ethic.Kelly is a good storyteller and makes the reader care about her characters who come alive on the pages of her book. I did find her style of switching from past to present tense a little confusing at times.I walked between Mam and Granny, carrying Bridget. Da and Michael were just ahead, deep in talk of some kind. They get on so well. Michael¿s part of the Keeley men now, with is own fine children, his loneliness filled. - from Galway Bay, page 127 -But after a time, these tense switches simply became part of the overall writing style of the book and I began to ignore them.Galway Bay is a sprawling novel and the time period it covered is enthralling. As in all good historical fiction books, this one begs to be devoured long into the night.Recommended.
readingrebecca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not knowing much about Irish history, and only knowing that in the 19th century there was something called the potato famine, I looked forward to reading Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly. I learned an enormous amount about Irish history and the horrors of the potato famine. Galway Bay is the story of the Kelly family starting in the ¿before times¿, that time before The Great Starvation. The inhumanity shown the Irish by the English, the landlords, and the agents, during the potato famine is incredible, treating the Irish as less than human. But the Kelly family vows to survive, and survive they do¿on less food than many of us throw away in one day. As more and more Irish die of starvation, the English have great plans for taking over the land left idle and so begin evicting those who remain. With nowhere to go, the Kelly¿s make their way to America, first to New Orleans and then Chicago. This is a marvelous sweeping family saga told with an ear to the Irish bent to storytelling. The story swept me in and held my attention with every page. Honora Kelly, the main character telling the story, was actually a real person, the great-great-grandmother of the author. She is perhaps the strongest woman I have ever read about, surviving unbelievable hardships all the while loving and raising her children and making her way in America. This is a woman I will long remember.If I had one complaint, it would be that the story of their time in New Orleans and Chicago was not long enough. I wish the author had added another 100 or so pages and made this time longer. The description of the life and times of early Chicago was just fascinating and I would have loved to read more. But that is a small complaint compared to the grand scope of this story and the wonderful characters portrayed. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Irish history or anyone with Irish ancestors.
Bcteagirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am very glad that I had the chance to read this book. This is the type of book that makes the past come alive; I loved the intimate and detailed look into past lives. I will admit for the first 80 pages or slow it was a slow read. I was enjoying it, but it was the type of book I read just a bit at a time. Then suddenly it just took off. This book offers and unflinching look at the past without being a horribly depressing book. Yes, it highlights the evils the English were perpetrating and the potato blight that would not die, but it also highlights the little joys in their day to day life. What separates books that wallow in misery and those that do not is hope, and this book is full of hope. Hope for a family, hope for a better life, hope for Amerikay. I feel I have a much better understanding of my ancestors, and I had a fun time while I was at it. :)
amandacb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book about Irish farmers who were forced to come to America after the great potato blight in Ireland. However, I kept getting confused with the dialect that is patently Irish; I did not discover until the end that there is a glossary in the back. Duh! At any rate, I did feel that once the family was in America, the story dragged a bit, and I found it harder to complete the novel. I'm going to give this another read in the hopes that I'll have a better time with it.
KC9333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
WOW...historical fiction at its best. This multigenerational novel covers the struggle for survival during the great famines in Ireland and the immigration of one family to America. From the very first of the 600 pages you are sucked into the story and never let go. Obviously well researched and a joy to read.
momgee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of those multi-generational novels that grab you by the heart and soul and does not let go until the last page is turned. I was in love with all these characters from the very beginning. The women in the story have the most indomitable spirits of fictional women anywhere. What they lived through to keep themselves and their families alive is absolutely incredible. They showed resilience, courage and an undaunting faith. Ms. Kelly has impeccably captured the voices of these women as wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. She is a spellbinding storyteller. The history of Ireland and the heartbreak of a life under British rule is so vividly portrayed, it is easy to feel the emotions of the characters, whether it be heartbreak or triumph. Their remarkable faith in the face of extreme adversity is awe inspiring. How the people survived who lived through the famine is amazing to me. What I found particularly enjoyable was the re-telling of some of the legends and beliefs that had been kept alive for centuries.Another part of the story that I really liked was the love of family, home , and country theme. This is discernible throughout the entire book. All these elements put together just made for the most wonderful story. It is quite apparent Ms. Kelly did a tremendous amount of research for this book. The history, although heartwrenching at times, is fascinating. Although it is nearly 600 pages long, the story flowed magically for me and I just loved every sentence. Highly recommended. 5***** rating
wbarker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perfect for : Personal reading, book club readIn a nutshell: I was very interested in this story as my husband's side of the family can claim ties to Ireland, and my grandmother immigrated here from Norway (yes, NOT Ireland, but in a way, I feel I can understand what she went through on her journey here a little better after reading this book). I was hoping to learn a little more about the Irish history, and what it was like to travel to America, and I was not disappointed. This is a wonderfully written story that follows the Kelly family. We get a glimpse of life prior to the the potato famine, and then we see how the Irish were treated as they were starving and trying to survive.This is a story of strength and survival that will keep you riveted. I was amazed by what I learned, and found that I was enthralled by this family who refused to give up, and instead traveled to America to start over. Even more amazing, Honora Kelly was actually the author's great-great-grandmother, which gives the story even more of a lasting impact.Extended Review:Characters: The characters within the book were wonderfully written and developed. I grew very attached to the members of the Kelly family and found myself amazed at what they were able to accomplish.Story-Line: I can only imagine the amount of time that the author put into her research. The story is amazing and highly detailed, giving the reader quite a nice glimpse into the history of both Ireland and America in the 1800's.Readability: The book is long, but will capture your attention and hold it from the first chapter, until the end of the book.Overall: I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Irish immigration to America following the potato famine, and to anyone with Irish ancestors. The strength of the Kelly family, and their will to survive is a wonderful testament. This would also be a wonderful book club read due to the number of things that will spark discussions, although you might want to allow a little more time than normal due to the size of the book.
DonnerLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Galway Bay is an fantastic book. Kelly shows how the events of history unfold to affect one family and the impact over the generations. The characters in this book are amazing. Honora Kelly displays a great strength as she helps save her family from starvation, brings her children to America as a widow, and then worries for her boys as they fight in America's Civil War. As a reader, I could feel the strength of the emotions in this book as well as the pangs of their hunger. The characters truly come alive off the pages.Kelly sprinkles some Irish phrases into the dialogue which adds to the authentic feel of the book. There is a glossary in the back of the book which aids in understanding these terms although many can be understood simply from their place in the text.Through telling the story of one family, Kelly truly tells the tale of the millions who fled Ireland during the starvation to create new lives for themselves in America. I would highly recommend Galway Bay as a rich, historical novel and as a novel of family. The book also contains a reading guide which would make it an ideal book club selection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Didn't want it to end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best historical fiction stories I've read about Ireland in the 19th century. Love the Kelly family and all they had to endure to survive. Btw, Irish word glossary in back of book. I didn't realize this until after I finished reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mary Pat Kelly truly has the Irish gift of storytelling and an engaging way of relating history. I enjoyed the journey.
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