Three winter days in 1951 change the course of Ronan O’Mara’s life forever. A lone traveler seeks shelter at the O’Mara home. He is a Seanchai, a teller of tales and stories of Ireland’s rich past. This brief connection with the Storyteller sets Ronan on a path that inevitably redefines his entire reality. Thus starts Frank Delaney’s Ireland: A Novel.
With carefully arranged chapters that mix historical tales with the plot, Delaney crafts a novel of a people irrevocably linked to their land, their culture, and their Technicolor history. What seems at first to be merely a pleasant entertaining read quickly becomes much more as the Storyteller begins the story that is Ireland. Even readers reluctant to pick up a history text will find themselves transported by stories of Newgrange, Saint Patrick, Brendan, Finn MacCool, the Book of Kells, Brian Boru, and the Battle of the Boyne. Historical facts are accurate and well-researched. Characters are thoughtfully developed and believable; there is a realistic mix of angst and joy, sorrow and happiness, urban degeneration and bucolic rural flavor. Ronan O’Mara and his family prove to have lives full of secrets. Just when you think you’ve figured out why the plot has turned a certain direction, the author reveals a crucial detail that suspends all conjecture. Why is Ronan's mother so cold toward him? What is the truth withheld from Ronan which threatens to shatter his reality? What unspoken secret lingers as Uncle Toby leaves a gold ring in John O'Mara's casket? Will Ronan succeed at finding the Storyteller again after so many years of searching for his would-be mentor? These questions and others keep the pages turning.
Frank Delaney, born in Tipperary, Ireland, has enjoyed a career spanning more than 30 years' work as a broadcaster for RTE Radio and Television, the Irish State Network. Contributions include work on documentaries, music programs, and time spent as a newsreader. Five years of work as current events reporter with the BBC in Ireland led to a move to London where Delaney took up arts broadcasting. Other credits include film writing, hosting his own talk show, and creation or writing of hundreds of other broadcast programs. Since writing his first work in 1979 (James Joyce's Odyssey), Delaney has penned five additional non-fiction titles, nine novels, one novella, and numerous short stories. He currently lives in New York and Connecticut.
Ireland: A Novel is available at the Uinta County Library. Call 789-2770 for more information. You can find us online at www.uintalibrary.org.
Reviewed by Leslie Carlson, Uinta County Library 6/8/2007