Followers from twenty-seven countries

This site now has followers from twenty-seven countries around the world. In the past week there have been new visitors from 5 countries. So it is timely to update the list of platforms and outlets from which Against The Wind:Memoir of a Dissident Dubliner can be viewed and purchased. Apart from Amazon worldwide other platforms and outlets include:

Also available from all major bookstores in Australia, ISBN:1-922086-53-3 EAN13:978-1-922086-53-2.

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Blogs bloom on USA-Irish site

Ever since the time of the ancient Irish storytellers (Bards) the Irish have enjoyed and perfected the art of story telling. We have been described as ‘the greatest talkers since the Greeks’ and whether in the oral tradition or as the written word the ability to tell a tale or spin a yarn is all part of a cherished Irish heritage.

Short snappy prose that can be humorous or poignant, rousing or sad is an art form many Irish writers have perfected. Even authors of monumental works like James Joyce have excelled in the shorter form as have Liam O’Flaherty and Frank O’Connor. Nor has the short story been kept as the preserve of male writers. When it comes to short vivid pieces that can leave one dwelling on them for days afterwards, female writers from Mary Lavin to Edna O’Brien can hold their place with pride in the ranks of literature.

Now a USA based blog site The New Wild Geese is providing a platform for the scattered Irish Diaspora to write about themselves and their experiences throughout the world. Their mission: “to explore, promote, preserve and celebrate the epic heritage of the Irish worldwide”. CEO and founder of the site, Gerry Regan says, “All Irish people and those of Irish extraction are welcome to become members and contribute their blog posts and comments to the site. We do not apply a political litmus test to select a membership. We coalesce precisely because we focus on what we share, rather than our differences”.

As a result of this broad embrace contributors as diverse as Malachy McCourt and ex Taoiseach John Bruton may be given space in the blog’s newsletter pages. With over 2000 members and more than 25000 visits a month the site provides a platform that connects Irish people and friends of Ireland to their heritage and culture throughout the world. But it is not specifically simply just a writer’s site that allows discussion and debate. This virtual community is not only supported by the written word but also by photos and video clips with music and song that can all be found in an exciting kaleidoscope of features and articles.

With a growing and interactive membership from “wherever green is worn” the future of The New Wild Geese is assured. May ten thousand blogs bloom.
Visit The Wild Geese at:
mes network

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Can the Irish Left unite?

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has renewed his appeal for parties of the Left to come together to provide ‘positive alternative’ policies to the program of austerity endorsed by the present Irish government. And reports in the Irish media say a similar proposal is being discussed by at least four of the independent TDs (MPs) on the opposition benches in the Dail.

While it is indeed gratifying to learn such moves are afoot, the concept is not new or original. And one can’t help thinking of Oscar Wilde’s remark that ‘It is a terrible thing for a man to find out that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth’.

In a media release in October 2013, on my book Against the Wind: Memoir of a Dissident Dubliner, I said:

“I felt it was time to tell where the idea of a ‘United Front’ to challenge this ‘closed Irish society’ originated, and to share my views on why it had failed to gain enough support to make a much-needed change.”

The chapter, ‘A dangerous idea’ tells the story. And I will leave it to readers to judge it all for themselves.

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At a library near you

With the onset of the digital age there were many who thought we were entering an era that would see the decline if not the end of printed books and as a result the demise of the public library. This has not happened; far from withering away libraries are thriving and evolving with their communities and are actually becoming more popular.

There are almost 500 public libraries throughout Australia and 180 of these are located in Victoria. More than 27 million visits a year are made to Victorian libraries and result in 50 million loans being made to avid readers. These include more than 300,000 e-books downloaded annually.

Such is the demand that city councils throughout the state are investing millions of dollars in library/community centres with up-to-date technology and community spaces for gatherings and events. One such complex at a cost of $20 million will open in April at Docklands in Melbourne. And before that at the end of January a new generation and fully redeveloped public library will open in the regional city of Bendigo.

As any writer will tell you even more satisfying than seeing your book on display at your local book store is the knowledge that it is available to countless readers at a library near you.

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An historian comments


Memoirs of an Irish childhood in the years after independence have become a popular genre in Irish writing in the last decade. These memoirs can offer us some extraordinary glimpses into the Irish experience in the twentieth century.

 Against the Wind follows in a similar vein to Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, reciting a Irish Catholic childhood with bullying schoolteachers and priests, cultural restrictions due to the Catholic church and the intimacy between Church and State, particularly in relation to birth control – a development which ultimately convinces O’Brien to emigrate to Australia in 1968 – ‘I would not have “Mother Church” in our bedroom’. Also similar to Angela’s Ashes and Seamus Deane’s Reading in the Dark, O’Brien’s mother looms large in the narrative. She appears to influence his ideas on socialism and equality, as well as his eventual disillusionment with republicanism.

 This book is also timely, for two reasons. Its discussion on ideas of working-class development and of independence will resonate with many as we commemorate the 1913 Lockout and Irish revolution, questioning, perhaps, what was achieved with independence, particularly as the country goes through another heart-breaking recession which sees many citizens leave its shores, as O’Brien did throughout the 1950s to England and more permanently in 1968, to Australia. The book will also appeal to the Irish Diaspora, as O’Brien’s memories of migration to and from England for work in the lean years of 1950s Ireland will resonate with many. As thousands continue to emigrate every week for places like Australia, O’Brien reminds us in his closing lines, ‘There are Irishmen and there are men from Ireland… I am as Ireland made me. Intentionally or not’.

Dr Sarah Campbell
Modern Irish History
School of History, Classics and Archaeology
Newcastle University

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Links to memoir

At the request of some followers of this blog, this post provides some links to sites and information that is pertinent to my memoir.

Publisher: Melbourne.

Distributors: and


Another useful link is  The ISBN: 1-922086-53-3 and EAN13:978-1-922086-53-2 may also be helpful for readers in Ireland. News to hand says Gazelle Books in Britain are also being approached by the distributors.

Watch this space between now and Christmas for more information.

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Extracts from memoir

Extracts from Against the Wind: Memoir of a Dissident Dubliner

                 James O’Brien on his first visit to England (Yorkshire)…

 This was a new experience for me. I had grown up thinking that all English people were la-di-dah types that spoke with BBC accents and said things like, ‘I say, old chap,’ and ‘Jolly good show,’ every time they opened their mouths. And here I was in a household and community that were avowedly the opposite in outlook and conviction.

  On leaving Ireland for England to seek work…

 We emigrants used to joke, ‘I’m not going away. Just across to Birmingham.’ Or we could apply it to Manchester or Coventry, or to any of the English cities with a history of large Irish settlements. Some would say, ‘Going across the pond’ while those of a more ironic bent would declare, ‘I’m off to the mainland.’ And for all of us, even those that hoped for a United Ireland, we knew we were more welcome in Birmingham than in Belfast.

 On emigrating to Australia

 I knew this was not like taking the boat across the ‘pond’ to England. This was a big move with just one week’s pay in my wallet. But I would not be the first or the last man or woman to leave Ireland in such circumstances (even as I write they are leaving in their thousands again). And this time there is no ‘cruel England’ to blame.

My advice to them all is to remember no matter where you finish up, as Da used to say, ‘As long as you are on your feet and stay above the clay, you are winning.’

 On being Irish….

 During one tutorial session, the female tutor asked me was I ‘Irish or ex-Irish?’

‘One can never be ex-Irish,’ I replied. ‘Especially somebody with a brogue like mine.’ A remark that drew a laugh from the class. I have never felt any need to try to be other than Irish. In many ways being Irish or English or anything else is how we think of ourselves.

As Da would often say ‘There are Irishmen and there are men from Ireland.’ Never one to be pusillanimous himself; I hope I have inherited his outlook.

Book is available on link below.




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