Monthly Archives: October 2013

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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Book now on

To all those that have been asking I can now confirm that my book  Against The Wind: Memoir of a Dissident Dubliner is now listed on in Australia, USA, UK and EU. It can be downloaded as an e-book with Kindle or ordered as a print book ( paperback) with an option of express mail or normal postal delivery. Copies will be available in leading Australian bookstores in plenty of time for Christmas.

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Books with similar flavour!

While this blog has been created to promote my memoir Against the Wind, it is also a site to allow me to publicise and comment on books and writing with similar themes. News has it that the first book to be banned in Ireland (1929) by the new “independent” Free State government, Liam O’Flaherty’s, The House of Gold has been published for the first time in 80 years. In a new introduction, writer and journalist, Tomas Mac Siomoin, comments that the emerging Free State was run by an ” oppressive native gombeen ascendancy , buttressed by the Catholic church”.

Another book; Deported: The Story of Jimmy Gralton, by Des Guckian, tells of the victimisation and the first and only ‘official’ deportation by the state (1933) of an Irish dissident and activist. In August, renowned film director, Ken Loach, began filming Gralton’s story in County Leitrim. A cousin Paul Gralton said the story is relevant to the Ireland of today and “is a story that needs to be told”.


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