The Harbor Boys: A Memoir

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A Year in Reading: Hugo Hamilton


Hugo Hamilton is the author of the New York Times notable memoir The Speckled People and its sequel The Harbor Boys. His most recent book is the novel Disguise. He has been awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, France’s Prix Femina Etranger, and Italy’s Giuseppe Berto Prize. He lives in Dublin.It’s always fascinated me how history is used in order to accommodate the present. For years we heard the maoning in Ireland about Eamon De Valera – freedom fighter, treaty-opponent, head of state in the fledgling Irish state whose vision of the Irish future was derided for so many years after his death as a home-spun mess. At last, we have a biography of the man which gives a deeper understanding of his character and his time. Judging DEV by Diarmuid Ferriter examines history from a new perspective, with a touch of sociological instinct at the core of his thinking.The Shores of Connemara by Seamas Mac an Iomaire (translated by Padraic de Bhaldraithe) Imagine Darwin arriving on the shores of Connemara. This small account of a local fisherman off the coast of Connemara, places us back in time almost a hundred years to a vision of the sea and the land in an innocent state. It is seen not by a professional marine biologist or botanist, but a local expert who observes everything he sees with great curiosity. In his descriptions of sandhoppers, for instance, and why they hop on a fine evening, is always a mixture of scientific enquiry, folklore, religion and childish delight. His book, above all, reduces the pace of change and gathers up all the qualities of time, the absence of hurry, in the landscape of the west of Ireland.More from A Year in Reading 2008

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