As March 17 approaches, it is time for Quillnews to take note of aspects Celtic that matter to me, which in the case of this post is a book entitled Ghosts of Kilrush, by Joe Riley, published by RavensYard and available wherever books are sold (ISBN 1-928928-13-7), and which is as charming an Irish reminisce as you are likely to find anywhere. Author Joe Riley was, well, abandoned by his Yorkshire father in Kilrush, Co. Clare, as a very young boy, and luckily taken in by a local family named DeLoughery who - there is no other way to say it - were a Godsend to Joe. The DeLoughery family, and the entire Kilrush community, raised Joe as their own, giving him love, a home and protection. When Joe became a teenager, he did what many advertureous spirits do - hit the road. In Joe's case, he became a musician and rocker in Liverpool, a medical worker and manager, computer entrepreneur, eventually settling in Manila, Philippines where he lives with his family now. Joe's early years in Kilrush were so enriching, Joe put his experiences growing up in that west Ireland village to words and created a poignant childhood portrait that is at once heart-wrenching, hilarious and a joy to read.
I was introduced to Joe's manuscript a few years ago by a mutual internet buddy, Patrick Cusack, an entrepreneur in the Emerald Tiger's emerging high tech industry. Though living and working outside Dublin, Cusack is a native of Kilrush, Co. Clare, who loves his hometown and is among its most accomplished boosters. Patrick's joy of Kilrush arcana and lore, together with his internet savvy, had led Patrick to establish all manner of Kilrush-based relations around the worldwide web. Patrick and I had begun a correspondence a decade ago as a result of genealogical work I was doing into my own family history, whose Irish roots are firmly planted in Kilrush, from which my ancestors Sinon and James Collins, father and son, emigrated to New York City in 1863. Through Patrick's help I was able to enrich my studies of my family history and learn, among many other things, the correct pronounciation of my clan name, O'Coileain, is O Quill Awn. (Editor's note: yes, that is one of the origins of this blog's name, Quillnews.)
Joe Riley's interest in finding a publisher for his Kilrush memoir had also led him to Patrick, who made the link: he knew of my Kilrush roots and the fact that I had become involved with some partners in a publishing venture, RavensYard, that was designed to use new printing and communications technologies to bring books to market. Through internet correspondence and file sharing, publishing magic would be made. RavensYard's editors agreed with me that Joe had written a small masterpiece. We put Joe's manuscript through RavensYard's editing gauntlet and released his book to rave reviews two years ago. It has been a consistent seller in the US, Ireland, UK and Australia ever since. Joe and his family even traveled from Manila to Ireland and were feted to a home town reception at which Kilrush's Mayor welcomed Joe and his praised his work for enabling Kilrush's community to share such loving memories. Patrick and I were heartened to know that from our respective corners of the globe - Dublin, Manila, Fairfax - the three of us Kilrush sons, Patrick, Joe and I, had been able to use the most modern of technology to share with the world Joe's simple story of grace, love and redemption, a legacy perfect for St. Patrick.