Sunday, September 26, 2010

Book Review: A Social History by Maurice O'Neill

Maurice O'Neill has written a delightful book on his personal memories of times past - "A Social History: Reflections on Changing Times". O'Neill, now in his late 80's, reflects on the many things that were part of his life since he was a small boy. While there is quite a bit of nostalgia, there is no sense that "things were better in the old days". He prefers to look forward, but at the same time remember what went before.

Maurice O'Neill is from near Ballon in Co Carlow, and is well known in this part of Ireland. He and my Father (Joe) were once colleagues on the board of Bunclody Farmer's Co-Op. I bought the book via a circuitous route - my brother Joe got it from his accountant Pat O'Neill (a relative of Maurice), he gave it to my Dad, who then gave it to me to read after he was finished with it. My Dad thoroughly enjoyed the accounts of old times past - he too has a keen memory.

Most of O'Neill's stories are based in the Carlow area. He has a keen memory and a wonderful sense of humour. I'm sure that he would be great entertainment for an evening recounting old stories and accounts of events long gone. He writes about bishops, travelling men, police, pubs, fairs, horses, hard times, match-making, wakes, and much more. If you are a person (like me) who likes to see museums of farm machinery, old houses, or listen to old stories, then you will enjoy this book. I think it is only available in local shops around Ballon.

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