With gracious thanks to Mi Mi at Glitterati Inc. for sending this fine book. This is the first time I’ve been sought to “review” a visual/graphic book and it was a real pleasure to be sent Through Irish Eyes. Ireland, and in particular, the Ireland that is featured in “Angela McCourt’s Ireland” is something quite close to home. My grandfather came to Canada from Cork. So featuring this book for my library is quite an honourable addition to own.
Mi Mi included Glitterati’s complete title list as well and it was a great pleasure to see the many gorgeous, and visually stunning books they have to offer. You can see their portfolio by clicking here.
Through Irish Eyes provides a visual addition to those that have read Angela’s Ashes (again, a book that is in my library, gifted to me by my husband one Christmas). Frank McCourt’s brother Malachy reluctantly provided the foreward. His reluctance, he writes, stems from his assumption it would be a book of happy and leaping milk maids running through the fields of green. However, it is nothing at all of the sort. It is a glance in to the extreme impoverished conditions in the neighbourhoods, the streets, the workplaces, the schools and hospitals of Limerick, Ireland. It also depicts the mass emigration to America that so defines the Irish.
The poverty is striking and the excerpts of detail provided next to the photographs are just as stark. For instance, the text accompanying the picture of the children’s ward in the Limerick hospital in 1930s explains,
“The ever-present fear of death helped to create the chilly, brooding atmosphere that sometimes also seems reflected in the architecture itself”
While extremely sobering to see, there are moments of brightness, in the pictures of the children laughing and smiling and the people gathering together to celebrate or play the parks or beaches. But it is stark, gloomy and sad and as Malachy McCourt writes in the Foreward:
“be the classic and classical reminder that the poor are always with us somewhere, and it’s been a long wait for the meek to inherit the earth. Look at this book carefully and keep it close, lest we and our children and their children forget.”
Through Irish Eyes is a very detailed and encompassing look at Limerick, Ireland in the 1930s-40s, the Ireland for the McCourts. It captures almost all parts of the life and times in its photographs and accompanying explanations. The explanations attached to the pictures are beautifully written but astonishing and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Thank you again to Glitterati for allowing us this opportunity to read this book.