Review: Galway Bay

Galway Bay, by Mary Pat Kelly

There's something about historical family sagas that makes A Reader's Respite sigh with contentment. There's nothing like turning the last page of an sweeping epic story that spans the generations and catches the reader up in the turmoil of another family, if for no other reason than to escape our own.

Galway Bay is author Mary Pat Kelly's story of the Irish-American experience. Well-researched and engaging, Kelly is a darned good story-teller and draws off of her own ancestor's experiences to drive the plot, a story chronicling one family's migration from Ireland to America in the 1800's. If you don't know much about Irish emigration, this novel is a wonderful place to get your feet wet.

Not your average veggie

Kelly doesn't bog down the reader in detailed politics of the time, but instead focuses on the impact of anti-Catholic sentiment on one family. The politics of the day, coupled with the Great Irish Potato Famine, killed over a million people and drove another million to leave Ireland forever, many of whom chose America as their surrogate home.

But America wasn't the Promised Land for most of these immigrants. Most arrived between the years of 1840-1860 and if you know your American history, well then....

Those Irish who survived famine, the abhorrent tenant farming of the day, and a treacherous Atlantic crossing found themselves in a foreign land, swept up into a war not of their making.

If you're looking for angst, this novel certainly has it. Love, war, loss and hope fairly leap out of the pages at you.

While Galway Bay didn't sweep us completely off our feet like that first reading of Gone With the Wind or The Thorn Birds, it is a novel deserving of your attention.

Title: Galway Bay
Author: Mary Pat Kelly
ISBN-13: 978-0446579001
576 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Date: February 9, 2009

Okay, are some more reviews to help you make up your mind:

Gather Books Essential
Savvy Verse & Wit
Lynne's Little Corner of the World
A Bookworm's World
The Tome Traveller
Wendi's Book Corner
Peeking Between the Pages
So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Grace's Book Blog
Library Girl Reads
Diary of an Eccentric
Historical Tapestry
Cafe of Dreams
Linus's Blanket
Jenn's Bookshelf
Books by TJBaff


  1. Thanks for the great review Michele...I really want to read this one!

  2. I really enjoyed Galway Bay - did you know the author is working on a sequel?

  3. Nice review Michele. I really enjoyed this novel although I agree; nothing beats Gone With the Wind for me or The Thornbirds-that was awesome too. Still I loved learning more about the Irish and the struggles they experienced.

  4. I think it was Dar and Anna that both very favorably reviewed this book, and drat it, didn't win the giveaway. Even though I tried to write witty comments and act cute! BTW, I just received The Glister...thank you!!! I can't wait to dig in! I'm also very much digging my Kindle. Did you know there were websites where you can get free downloads?

  5. I finally got my hands on this one after waiting almost two months at the library. Popular book. Must finish the door-stopper size sweeping family saga I'm currently working on though :)

  6. would make a great library check-out, imo.

    Kathy - I had heard that and I'm glad. I'll certainly pick up the sequel.

    Dar- you're right, I think learning the historical aspects were the most interesting.

    Sandy - I wish I still had my copy, I'd send it to you! But it is a chunkster, maybe it's better on the Kindle? I'm so glad you got one! Even Amazon has a bunch of free downloads for it!

    Misfit - what are you working on now? I'm dying to know!

  7. I did win one of the giveaways and so I have this book sitting here calling my name! I'll get to it eventually.

  8. I am definitely going to read this one - Irish history is one of my passions. Have you read Trinity by Leon Uris? One of my favorite historical sagas of all time.

  9. Michele, got your curiosity up have I? Just over 900 pages, covering a 20 year period starting in 1861, set in Montana and New York. Written by...... nope I'll keep teasing you although the book she wrote in the 40's was banned in Boston.

    PS, lively thread on author self-promotion at Amazon,

  10. Marg - looking forward to your take on the book!

    Misfit - okay, I'm stumped and Google is not helping me. You must not have purchased it from Amazon, lol.

    Carrie - I have a copy of it, but haven't yet read it. If it's your favorite, I'd better bump it up on my list!

  11. So glad you loved it! I thought it was FANTASTIC...almost wished I saved it for long days at the pool.
    It's a perfect pool read.
    I hadn't heard about a sequel. Like you, I'll definitely pick that one up. If you hear anything, pass the information along.

  12. Michele, it appears I stumped you. Book is Wanderers Eastward, Wanderers West by Kathleen Winsor (Forever Amber). Life in the growing mining towns of the Montana Rockies, plus lots of Wall Street skullduggery on the other side of the country, courtesy King County Library.

  13. Everyone has given this one such wonderful reviews. I already have a copy in my shelves - I'll have to get to it sooner than later.

    ♥ Nely

  14. Thanks for the review. I just received three books from Amazon that you reviewed. I like that I can go back on your blog if I need to find something. So far I think my reading is full through the summer, thanks to you.

  15. P.S. Husband just received his Kindle and loves it so far.

  16. It was a very good book, and it reminded me a lot of The Thorn Birds, but The Thorn Birds had a much bigger emotional impact on me with the love story and story of generations, but Galway Bay was still really good. I can't wait to read Gone With the Wind.

  17. I won this book a few weeks back and I'm looking forward to it. I like Irish stories and immigration stories.

  18. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. I absolutely loved it. Thanks for the link.

    Diary of an Eccentric


Fire away!