Exiles: A master of his craft conjures up the emigrant experience

Dónall Mac Amhlaigh’s reissued 1986 ‘novel’ is instead three spellbinding stories for the price of one

Readers wanting to know what life was like for Irish emigrants in the 1940s are unlikely to find a truer or more vivid description than in Exiles



By Dónall Mac Amhlaigh

Parthian Books, €14

It is impossible to over-estimate the impact of emigration on Ireland in the 20th century. Around 80 per cent of Irish children born between 1931 and 1941 needed to leave, with nothing here for them.

They left to the unspoken relief of successive ministers for finance, who could factor emigrants’ remittances as an invisible export into budgets. Ten-shilling notes sent home from English cities subsidised Ireland ...