Inside Ireland (cover) Eilís Dillon
Inside Ireland
with photographs by Tom Kennedy

Eilís Dillon was born into the milieu that made the modern Irish Republic. She draws on layers of family history to trace the nation's past, remembering much of her own life in the process. From the Victorian Dublin of her grandfather, Count Plunkett, and her poet uncle, Joseph Plunkett's part in the Easter Rising and its bitter aftermath, she moves to the beautiful but impoverished Galway of her childhood, to the Sligo where she went to convent boarding school, and to the intricacies of social life in wartime Cork. Eilís Dillon's deep knowledge of the Gaelic tradition gives her a special insight, and her writing glows with poetry, humour, understanding and an infectious love for her native land.

From the proud city of Cork to the walls of Derry, from Killorglin's Puck Fair to the Galway Races, Eilís Dillon's prose is matched and complemented by the brilliantly evocative photographs of Tom Kennedy, whose marvellous eye for detail and brooding sense of place contribute a unique visual dimension to this most compelling of hooks about Ireland by one of the country's most distinguished novelists.


"Like all skilful writers, Eilís Dillon allows experience to sharpen her sensibilities rather than to barb them. Through her family and her own growing up, she reflects with great charm and perception the emergent Ireland of her time." (William Trevor, The Guardian)

"It will be found at many a bedside ... It is something to which one can return again and again, with growing affection." (Cork Examiner)

"... an entertaining and unusual book ... Pleasingly patriotic in the best sense of that much abused word." (Ronan Farren, Evening Herald)

"A book full of atmosphere." (Exeter Express and Echo)

"Dillon entices the reader with a captivating medley of poetic expression, astringent wit and the special insight of the native." (Publishers Weekly)

For a description of life in the village of Barna, County Galway, see Barna memories

Or start here with the opening of the fourth chapter ....

Chapter Four

So I was born, in Galway, in 1920, into a world of ghosts. I was the third child of the family, my senses sharpened at a very early age to understand the things that happened to us. We lived in a state of permanent terror. Violence as all around us. The Black and Tans, the auxiliary police brought over to quell Ireland for good and all, were riding high, promised full support for their unspeakable actions, out of control even by their own officers. The army was somewhat better, but my earliest memory dates from about my first birthday, March 1921, when a party of soldiers broke into the house, upset the furniture, threw the books down from the shelves, lifted the floor-boards in their search for hidden guns, and finished by taking my mother away with them on their lorry, surrounded by fixed bayonets. It was their custom to drive through the town displaying their victim, who was put to stand where he or she could be clearly seen, so as to terrify the townspeople. It was largely successful.

My father was on the run, a familiar expression to me as a child, meaning that he had left home and gone into hiding in fear of being murdered. My older sister, then four years old, knew just what was afoot because on another occasion, not long before, she had been compelled by a party of Black and Tans to lead them out into the garden where my mother was, so that they could kill her. My mother argued them out of their intention then, saying that it would be objected to in England if they were to shoot down a young woman in the presence of her child. But now they had gone off with our mother, and my sister understood that we would never see her again.

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