Greta Cahill never believed she would leave her village in the west of Ireland until she found herself on a ship bound for New York, along with her sister Johanna and a boy named Michael Ward.
Labeled a "softheaded goose" by her family, Greta discovers that in America she can fall in love, raise her own family, and earn a living. Though she longs to return and show her family what she has made of herself, her decision to spare her children knowledge of a secret in her past forces her to keep her life in New York separate from the life she once loved in Ireland, and tears her apart from the people she is closest to.
Even fifty years later, when the Ireland of her memory bears little resemblance to that of the present day, she fears that it is still possible to lose all when she discovers that her childrenwith the best of intentions have conspired to unite the worlds shes so carefully kept separate for decades.
A beautifully old-fashioned novel, The Walking People is a debut of remarkable range and power.
At home in Ballyroan, in the single-story cottage that stood beside the sea, in the bed she shared with her older sister, eight-year-old Greta Cahill woke before dawn to a sound that was not the ocean, was not the animals bawling into the wind, was not a slammed gate, a clanging cowbell, or the rain beating on the gable. The sound was different, it was a first, and to hear it better Greta pushed the layers of blankets away from her shoulders and sat up.
"Youre letting in the cold," Johanna said into the dark without whispering, and tugged at the blankets Greta had pushed away. As they struggled, a faint whiff of salmon stopped Gretas hands. She had forgotten that part of last nights catch was lined up on a shallow tray and resting in the emptied top drawer of the dresser she and Johanna shared. Greta pictured the six flat bodies in a neat row--tails to the back, heads to the front, all split along the backbone and buried in salt. The smell was barely noticeable so ...
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Among themselves, Travellers refer to themselves as Pavees. To outsiders they are often referred to as pikeys, knackers or tinkers (the latter two descriptions refer to traditional crafts in which they were employed, rendering animals and tin-smithing; the first two are considered particularly derogatory). In Irish, they are known as Lucht Siúil - the walking people - hence the title of Mary Beth Keane's novel. Sometimes they are also referred to as diddycoys - which is a Roma term for a child of mixed Roma and non-Roma parentage; when used in the context of Travellers it refers to the fact that they are not "Gypsy" by blood but have adopted a similar lifestyle.
A 2006 Irish national ...
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