One family’s epic journey captures both the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience—and echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself …
In a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family. Because they and their countrymen must sell both their catch and their crops to pay exorbitant rents, potatoes have become their only staple food.
But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees—victims saving themselves—in the emigration from Ireland.
Danger and hardship await them in America. Honora, her unconventional sister Máire, and their children help transform Chicago from a frontier town to the “City of the Century.” The boys go on to fight in the Civil War and enlist in the cause of Ireland’s freedom.
Spanning six generations and filled with joy, sadness, and heroism, GALWAY BAY sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today’s forty-four million Irish Americans—and is a universal story you will never forget.
As an author and filmmaker, Mary Pat Kelly has told various stories connected to Ireland. Her award-winning PBS documentaries and accompanying books include To Live for Ireland, a portrait of Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume and the political party he led; Home Away from Home: The Yanks in Ireland, a history of U.S. forces in Northern Ireland during World War II; and Proudly We Served: The Men of the USS Mason, a portrayal of the only African-American sailors to take a World War II warship into combat, whose first foreign port was Belfast. She wrote and directed the dramatic feature film Proud, starring Ossie Davis and Stephen Rea, based on the USS Mason story.
She’s written Martin Scorsese: The First Decade and Martin Scorsese: A Journey; Good to Go: The Rescue of Scott O’Grady from Bosnia; and a novel, Special Intentions. She is a frequent contributor to Irish America Magazine.
Mary Pat Kelly worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter for Paramount and Columbia Pictures and in New York City as an associate producer with Good Morning America and Saturday Night Live, and wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Abby’s Song. She received her PhD from the City University of New York.
Born and raised in Chicago, she lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with her husband, Web designer Martin Sheerin from County Tyrone.