Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

Honora Keely is a seventeen-year-old girl, living in Galway Bay and bound for the convent to become a nun when Michael Kelly walks into her life in the most novel of ways.  Even though Michael had been on his way to find and take part in a great adventure, it’s love-at-first-sight when the two see each other and they know right away that they want to be married.  Honora’s family puts up some resistance, but once the couple are married they go on to set up a life together and have children and a happy life until the blight strikes their potato crop two years in a row, and they have to face up to the fact that they might have to leave their beloved Galway Bay behind.

I was a little worried when I started reading this novel. I had a difficult time getting into it. Unfamiliar words and a large cast of characters had me struggling to figure who was who and what they were saying.  Both the Keeleys and the Kellys had families that set a lot by storytelling and stories of Irish Warriors and their Queen Mav dominated Michael and Honora’s courtship.  Luckily for me Kathy from Bermudaonion pointed out that there was a glossary in the back, and it’s definitely worth it to stick with the story.  After I was bale to get my bearing I thoroughly enjoyed this equally heart-warming and heart-wrenching drama.

This was a story about a very stong family who helped each other through the good times and the bad.  It loved seeing Honora and Michael’s love for one another grow stronger and the sacrifices that they made to see their family through some very hard times.  It was so touching that both the Keeleys and the Kellys were all like that, as well as the village where they often did things as a community and helped each other raise houses and harvest crops on the farm.

Honora’s grandmother is the storyteller of the family and she prepares Honora to take over this role from her.  The stories that they tell illustrate not only the strength of the warriors but also the strong women in Irish culture.  Honora and her sister Maire carry on the tradition of strong Irish women.  They stay right in the thick of things, having their say and guiding their families.

Galway Bay is set against the backdrop of one of the most interesting yet devastating events in world history.  The Great Starvation from the potato blight epidemic in Ireland caused the death of 1 million people and sent another 2 million to the United States as immigrants, where the Irish faced discrimination.  The Kelly family survived the potato famine to face prejudice, brutal jobs and working conditions, and also Civil War (where they fought neighbors from home who had enlisted on the other side).

Much can be found between the pages of Galway Bay, it’s an engaging story based on very tragic and real history and most of the time I couldn’t put it down. There is truly something for everyone, whether you are looking for a historical drama, romance, action and adventure, they can all be found here.

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