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Born 1929 to an Irish farming family when all about us suffered the consequences of The Great Depression and Economic War. I was the lucky one, the precious late arrival after the early losses of siblings, the protected one who did not realise until years later the sacrifices made for me by parents and much older brothers. Years of wandering followed through England, Scotland, Peru, Australia and, at last, my home in New Zealand.
My living always involved the technology of the time. Sometimes this belonged more to the 19th than to the 20th century as in Peru where the whole chain of marine cables functioned without a thermionic valve, much less a transistor. With the correct piece of copper wire and a soldering iron we could and did keep the system alive from Panama to Valparaiso. Stories abound, as of the sole-charge night-shift operator of a coastal relay station who fell asleep on watch. No problem: the incoming tape would coil itself neatly on the floor for him to on-forward. However, a strategically positioned knot-hole allowed the tape to feed through to the grateful goat below. No doubt, he cooked up a technical explanation of his request for retransmission.
It amazes me now that I put so much effort into the Morse code and its derivative, Cable code, as if this was the final achievement of communications. Are we all that dumb in hindsight? In a few years will our successors look back in pity at our faith in the internet and its applications?
In middle years I was told of the fate of my baby-dead siblings. The anger would not leave me. I was forced to write about it and the novel Children of the Cromlech is the result. It is my imagination at work on my experiences. Not a literal truth but, I believe, the truth none-the-less. I hope some will find it valuable in understanding the iron fists of economics and of religion that ruled their forebears.
on May 28, 2012 :
I loved this book because when I read a book one of the elements that is really important to me, in fact central, is that I have to like the characters (good or bad). For me to like them they have to be believable and John O'Neill has created immensely believable characters. He has also spun a great yarn (and surely all good books do that?)that you'd draw nearer to the fireplace to listen to. Amidst the darkness there are glimpses of light and redemption which keep you reading till the last word. Read this book!
Well done John, great read and I wish you everything of the best with it!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on May 09, 2012 :
This is an 'almost perfect little book' as my wife (a hardened and critical reader of fiction) said when she put down the paperback version, and there were tears in her eyes. I thought, my God, I'd better read this! And, though I have more romantic tastes, I too was impressed and moved.
As a sculptor I found the resolution at the end particularly moving. There is something about stone, and cromlechs, ancient sacred stones that can bring us back to what really matters in life. Also the redeeming power of admiration of the Feminine for souls lost in the patriarchal wilderness of the Catholic Church.
Anyone who has in any way struggled between loyalty to a woman, or a friend, or principles, or enthusiasms, and the 'higher'loyalty to a Faith, will resonate with this story. So will anyone with an interest in the real Ireland and Irish.
All this, and it is well-written too - taut, concise and understated, with much subtle humour and irony, and above all a positive take on life even at its grimmest.
Now as an ebook may this story go out to find its deserved readership world-wide - yes, in Ireland too!
(reviewed the day of purchase)