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Adult Book of the Month

Vanishing Ireland
by James Fennell and Turtle Bunbury
Published by Hodder Headline Ireland in 2006

Vanishing Ireland takes us down memory lane through a unique collection of portrait interviews looking at the dying ways and traditions of Irish life. Illustrated with over a hundred evocative and stunning photographs, we meet the people and customs that shaped the cultural identity of the Irish nation. The book sets out to capture and preserve the stories of the common people of Ireland.

Through their own words and memories, sixty-four men and women transport us back to a time when people lived off the land and the sea, when music and storytelling were essential parts of life, when a person was defined by their trade. The book is divided into five parts - Children of the Field, Children of the Music, Children of the Horse, Children of the Trade and Children of the Water.

The people of County Clare are well represented in the book with ten of its characters interviewed. Farmers Paddy Gleeson from Kealderra, John Shannon from Ennistymon, Mick Kenneally from Cloonanaha and Jack MacNamara from Kilkishen all feature in the Children of the Field section along with Bob Mullins from Galbally who started his lifelong visits to sell shrubs in the market in Ennis in 1941. Michael ‘Patsy’ Flanagan a drummer from Bartra; Robbie McMahon a singer from Spancil Hill; Mike Murphy a fiddler from Ennistymon; Paddy Canny a fiddler from Kilcannon and Chris Droney a concertina player from Bell Harbour represent Clare’s musical heritage in the Children of the Music section of the book. The famous Lahinch publican Tom Frawley expresses his views on the state of the church in modern Ireland in the Children of the Trade section.

The interviews tell of children harassed by the Black and Tans, of céilís in kitchens, and the rigours of working in the fields, of the wonder of electricity and the devastation of emigration. From coalminers to saddlers, farmers to fishermen, along with horse dealers, publicans, housemaids and musicians - these remarkably poignant interviews and photographs, in their simplicity and honesty, provide a valuable chronicle that connects twenty-first century Ireland to a rapidly disappearing world.

Vanishing Ireland: Further Chronicles of a Disappearing World was published in 2009.

Also by James Fennell and Turtle Bunbury
The Irish Pub
Sporting Legends of Ireland