Tim Pat Coogan has once again excelled himself with this prodigious work of history. His previous works on topics of Irish political history are acclaimed works in their genre.
This book breaks new ground, as he tells the story of the 70 million people on this planet who are entitled to call themselves Irish. It is a tome of 750 pages, written in an easy, readable style. In the introduction there is a succinct appraisal of Ireland’s progress, with the emphasis on Ireland’s education system and the nation’s entry into Europe, both of which have interacted to give both those at home and abroad a heightened interest in the progress of Ireland and all things Irish.
There is a thread of thought running through all the work, which is a plea that we Irish should remember in the good news of the Irish diaspora today that the prejudices once faced by our own people have now to be faced in Ireland where hostility and near hysteria towards asylum seekers is often found.
This book is both a triumph of historical literature and a thoroughly researched account of the development of Irish communities across the globe. There is detailed research, coupled with a plethora of anecdotal details. He has been able to combine the two to leave the reader informed and enthralled. The actual amount of detail is incredible in its complexity and variety. There is detailed analysis of single focuses and a spread throughout every area where the Irish have settled…Australia, USA, Italy, Montserrat, Canada… No place is missed. Sections are devoted to continents and subsections devoted to every area within those continents. Wales has a very informative and interesting chapter.
Coogan has also mentioned Irish people in every walk of life, from those who were presidents or leaders through those who were outlaws, crooks, churchmen, farmers or labourers.
As the pioneering work in a field of study virtually untouched until now, Tim Pat’s book is sound; although as the author himself concedes it barely scratches the surface of a topic both rich in depth and diversity. Each country is worthy of a book on its own (such as that for Wales reviewed below – Ed.).
This is a monumental work which includes an extensive bibliography.
Joe Moore, from the Armagh shore of Lough Neagh, has lived in Cardiff many years where his children have acquired a reputation as splendid display dancers at Irish events. He is also well known as the local correspondent for the London weekly, The Irish Post. He is also Treasurer of the Wales Famine Forum.