Life on a farm in the West of Ireland in the 1950s and 60s is anything but easy. Marked by scarcity and hardship, most families have a hard time simply keeping a roof over their heads and food in the mouths of their ever-expanding broods of children.
Though at age fourteen and still technically a boy, young Tom Gallagher already does the work of an adult. His father works in England most of the year, returning each spring for a few weeks to cut the year’s supply of fuel and plant the crops. When his father stops coming, brother Eamon, at sixteen, becomes man of the house. When Eamon bails out to England, Tom, at fourteen, steps into his brother’s larger shoes and assumes the responsibility for completing the heavy tasks of farming with little mechanization—and impossible without the help of his mother and sisters.
In this engaging memoir about growing up poor and Irish, Gallagher weaves the story of his own hardscrabble childhood through the larger cultural and historical contexts of the time, crafting a fascinating look at one young boy’s life and the world in which he lived.
Never resorting to self-pity or sentimentalism, Gallagher tells his tale in the great traditions of Irish storytellers, mixing plenty of wit, humor, and irony with the gritty realities of his experience—and the result is mesmerizing.
“Gallagher’s writing is rich with wit, poignant insights, and self-deprecating humor. His stories are multi-dimensional and entertaining, and he evokes empathy without courting pity. This is a gem among memoirs.”
“I absolutely loved this book. I’ve read and loved all of Frank McCourt’s books and Gallagher’s style of storytelling is reminiscent of McCourt. This book will make you laugh your head off one moment, and cry tears of absolute heartbreak the next. Gallagher does an incredible job of bringing to life even the most mundane moments. He tells stories with such clarity that I can picture the villages and farms clearly in my head. Each chapter feels like its own short story.”
“Tara’s Halls is an inspiring memoir by Tom Gallagher. In this tremendously moving account of a boy’s life, Tom tells of his family’s hardship while growing up on a farm in the West of Ireland and his unwavering determination to change the course of his life. The storytelling is top rate, making the book an easy read. I give this book a rate of 4 out of 4 stars.”
An absolute fantastic read! Compelling from the beginning featuring brilliant story telling from a truly talented author. The descriptive method used to convey the authors childhood, hardships, triumphs, and tragedies is nothing short of genius. This is an obvious must read for any Irish/Irish American but also anyone who enjoys the classic theme of overcoming the greatest odds and destiny fulfillment. I’m hoping there is a sequel or more from this author!