Shanty Irish

Mark Dawidziak

Series: Black Squirrel Books (Book 7)
Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: Kent State University Press (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606350234
ISBN-13: 978-1606350232


This book features memories of an Irish-American growing up log-shack poor in small-town Ohio. A hard-edged mixture of hilarious and heartbreaking memories, Tully’s autobiographical 1928 book digs deep into the soil of his native Ohio to show what life was like in the late nineteenth century for a poor Irish-American family. Within the covers of this acclaimed work, we meet the author’s father, also named Jim Tully, ‘a gorilla built’ ditchdigger whose stooped shoulders carry ‘the inherited burdens of a thousand dead Irish peasants’. We meet his mother, Biddy, a ‘woman of imagination’ who ‘had all the moods of April’. We meet his uncle, ruthless John Lawler, who was tried, convicted, and sentenced to fifteen years in the Ohio penitentiary for stealing horses. And we meet his grandfather, Old Hughie Tully, ‘born with the gift of words’ – ‘capable of turning death into an Irish wake and pouring liquor down the throat of the corpse’. Old Hughie, ‘never without a tale to tell,” emerges as the most vividly drawn character in a book packed with unforgettable characters.

Tully’s most deeply personal book, Shanty Irish had a profound impact on readers and other leading American writers of the 1920s. ‘Shanty Irish is a chunk of real life’, wrote Upton Sinclair. ‘It made me feel human and humble, which is good for anybody’. H. L. Mencken said, In “Shanty Irish”, it seems to me, he has gone far beyond any of his work of the past. The book is not only brilliantly realistic; it also has fine poetic quality’. Indeed, a book soaked in mud and whiskey, “Shanty Irish” is at turns brutal, sentimental, ironic, lyrical, humorous, and tragic.

Author: Mark Dawidziak

Mark Dawidziak is the author or editor of about 25 books, including three studies of landmark television series: The Columbo Phile: A Casebook, The Night Stalker Companion and Everything I Need to Know I Learned in The Twilight Zone, his lighthearted 2017 tribute to Rod Serling’s classic anthology series. He also is an internationally recognized Mark Twain scholar, and five of his books are about the iconic American writer. He spent 43 years as a television, film and theater critic at such newspapers as the Akron Beacon Journal and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work on the horror side of the street also includes the novel Grave Secrets, The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Dracula, short stories, and comic book scripts. He lives in Ohio.