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June 3, 2009 > Book tells story of Irish immigrants

Book tells story of Irish immigrants

Submitted By Robert A. Garfinkle

Fremont Irish-American author Nicky O'Brien has woven an intriguing tale of two lifelong friends, Thomas O'Hara and Kevin O'Hara (no relation). O'Brien tells their story from their teen years in Ireland to old age in America.

What I found interesting was the way he used two narrators to tell the story. One narrator, Kevin, speaks directly to you, and the other, Thomas, retelling his life on tape. Thomas is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. His doctor thinks having Thomas tell his story into a tape recorder will help contain the disease.

Struggling to make a living in Ireland, the boys join the British army and are assigned to duty in Germany following World War II. After their enlistments are up, they make their way to America. Thomas goes to work for a concrete company in Chicago, works his way up the corporate ladder and even marries the boss's daughter, Josephine. Kevin, in the meantime, has joined the American army.

Years later, Thomas sets up a successful concrete company in the San Francisco Bay Area and becomes extremely wealthy. Then the devastating progression of his disease takes hold of not only Thomas, but his friends and family. Over a number of sessions, Kevin and Josephine listen to Thomas's tapes while Thomas is resting upstairs.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author's writing style and the way he presented this story and highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Irish traditions, the lives of immigrants struggling to make a success of living in America, or simply good fiction.

The Irish have an old tale that in the monastic town of Glendalough the birds began to sing when the lover of St. Kevin returned to his arms. After Thomas's death, Kevin returns to Glendalough with his wife. Do the birds sing? You will have to read the book to find out.

The Birds of Glendalough
by Nicky O'Brien
2007, Pp. 217, $10 paperback
ISBN 978-0-97968880-0-5

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