Category Archives: Uncategorized

Make sure you get the current edition.

It seems that a search on the internet often shows incorrect information on Against the Wind: Memoir of a Dissident Dubliner.

The current independently published edition was released as an ebook and print (POD) with Amazon in February 2019.

Details for the audio book, released in October, 2019 are listed on most retail sites as follows:

  Audible Audio book

 Listening Length: 4 hours and 26 minutes

 Program Type: Audio book

 Version: Unabridged

 Publisher: James A. O’Brien

 Narrator:  Gary Furlong

 Release Date: October 4, 2019  

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Where to buy the book.

Here is a list of the vendors where Against the Wind: Memoir of a Dissident Dubliner may be purchased as an audiobook.

24symbols / Apple / Audible, Amazon / Audiobooks.com / AudiobooksNZ / Authors Direct / Beek / Chirp / Downpour / eStories / Google Play / hibooks / Hummingbird / Instaread / Kobo, Walmart / Libro.FM / Nextory / NOOK Audiobooks / Playster / Scribd / Storytel / 3Leaf Group / Baker & Taylor / Bibliotheca / EBSCO / Follett / hoopla / MLOL / Odilo / Overdrive / Perma-Bound / Wheelers

While I can’t provide links to every retailer where my title is available, here are a few where it is showing up now:

 

This blog will post regular updates from now to December 31, 2019.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

MEDIA RELEASE

Against the Wind: Memoir of a Dissident Dubliner

Now an audio book

 Capturing the cadences and frequent humour of Irish speech, this historically insightful and highly entertaining memoir Against the Wind by Irish-Australian writer James (Seamus) O’Brien is enhanced by Gary Furlong’s skilful narration.

Though “astute observation and character portrayal” are the strengths of the work. Naturally, it helps to have actors mediating the words on the page, giving them intention and physically embodying them. There’s no doubt actors add immense value to a writer’s words. In the right narration the words scintillate and perform and add to the listener’s enjoyment of them.

In this wonderful grab-bag of recollections O’Brien weaves together the many threads of history and his own life to produce an informed, often bizarre tale, that will interest many listeners and readers well beyond the globe’s enormous Irish diaspora.

     SOON TO BE RELEASED THROUGH FINDAWAY VOICES TO OVER 30 RETAILERS WORLDWIDE

WATCH THIS SPACE

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Update to Being Bookish website

Views of my blog at www.beingbookish.com have now reached a total of 3545, with visitors from 89 countries.

In Australia, there are no more copies of Against the Wind: Memoir of a Dissident Dubliner available from the distributor Dennis Jones and Associates. But a limited number of signed copies are available from the author; see details on the website.

In Ireland, there are still copies of the book available by contacting the Dublin agents Liam O’Briain or Alan O’Brien at jamesaobrien@hotmail.com who will be happy to meet your order.

Proceeds from sales will go to support an oral history project on one of Ireland’s oldest building unions the Ancient Guild of Incorporated Brick and Stonelayers; established in 1670.

As well as this site other articles and stories I have written may be viewed by those who are interested on http://www.thewildgeese.irish.

Thanks to all who continue to visit and to share the site.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Diary of a Dissenter

Against the Wind: Memoir of a Dissident Dubliner

By J. A. O’Brien

Reviewed by Fergus Whelan

This is a memoir of a working-class writer, bricklayer, and member of the republican movement.  O’Brien grew up in the Dublin of the 1940s and 50s and worked intermittently in Britain before finally emigrating to Australia in 1968.

The book opens in 1941 with the author as a small child, his face pressed into his mother’s skirt, as a group of families stand on the steps of their south side Dublin tenement listening to the thud of Luftwaffe bombs dropping on the North Strand.  As the bombs fall, his father and uncle discuss what must have been a most controversial question for Irish democrats, socialists, and republicans of the era.  Should they support Ireland’s neutrality or should they join in the fight to defeat fascism?

The author was too young to understand it all.

O’Brien grew up in the south inner-city and went to St. Louis’ School in Rathmines in the period quaintly referred to as the “Emergency”.  His father was a bricklayer his mother worked in domestic service and he tells a colourful and sometimes heartrending tale of the difficulties faced by working class families just to survive.

He also tells of the bullying brutality of teachers.  The sadistic Mr Rafferty who would ‘crash his cane down on the desk’ to ‘hammer religion into them for their own good’ is a familiar figure to any Irish male born before 1972.  (Corporal punishment was abolished in 1982).

However, O’Brien was fortunate in his home life.  In particular, he was a lucky enough to be raised by strong, loving but, above all, independent and left-wing parents who were not afraid to think for themselves or stand up for their rights.

Leaving school, he became an apprentice bricklayer and there is a wonderful chapter on his initiation into the trade and into the union, called “Before the Green Cloth”. Like the author, this reviewer went before the ‘Green Cloth’ of the Ancient Guild of Incorporated Brick and Stone layers in 1970, two years after O’Brien left for Australia. O’Brien’s account certainly resonated with this once-proud apprentice of the Ancient Guild.

O’Brien gives a vivid portrayal of the lot of skilled Dublin tradesmen in the 1950s as they crossed the Irish Sea seeking employment.  In England, he rubbed shoulders with socialists and Spanish Civil War veterans and he greatly admired the class consciousness of the English working class. After a visit to a Yorkshire coal mine, he pithily observed ‘I will never waste the smallest bit of coal again’.

Unlike most Southern Irish Republicans of his era, or perhaps any era, O’Brien took the time to visit Northern Ireland, going to see conditions there for himself in August 1954. His sympathy for the oppressed nationalist population in what he described as a ‘closed society’ is palpable.  However, he has an interesting exchange with his ‘Da’. “They are surrounded by hostile forces, where it is well known and asserted that it is ‘A Protestant government for a Protestant people.”

The elder O’Brien replied, “If they feel oppressed they should try living in a Catholic-dominated system like we have down here. The Prods were right about Home Rule being Rome Rule, that’s for sure.”

O’Brien joined Sinn Fein and the IRA in the late 1950s, towards the end of ‘Operation Harvest’ otherwise known as the Border campaign. At a time when the Irish Labour Party was afraid to describe itself as socialist for fear of the wrath of the Catholic Church, he tried to influence his comrades to move to the left. He found that most IRA members were good potential soldiers but not political animals. It is clear that O’Brien greatly admired Sean Garland, Tomas MacGiolla and Cathal Goulding who, would succeed in moving the Republican Movement in a direction O’Brien would have applauded.

O’Brien left Ireland in 1968 and moved to Australia to find regular employment. It appears his main reason for leaving was his rejection of a narrow-minded and bigoted society, writing that he ’found life in the stifling social and cultural conditions of Ireland hard to tolerate’.

The most pleasing thing about this readable, amusing and perceptive memoir is that O’Brien, who is clearly a scholar of literature, drama and history weaves his erudition seamlessly into his life-affirming tale of working class life.  In particular, his use of poetry and song is moving, never more so than when gathered with his fellow Dublin bricklayer republicans at the funeral of Sean South, he quotes Dominic Behan:

They told me how Connolly was shot in a chair

His wounds from the battle all bleeding and bare

His fine body twisted all battered and lame

That soon made me part of the Patriot game.

Fergus Whelan

LookLeft

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Award-winning Radio Play

One of the many events held during 2016 to honour those who took part in the Easter Rising one hundred years before, was a stage play From the Backbone Out which told the story of Richard O’Carroll a labour leader and a member of the Irish Volunteers

O’Carroll who commanded an outpost in Camden Street was fatally shot after he was captured by the infamous Captain Bowen-Colthurst who would murder the pacifist, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and two journalists on the same day.

When he came face to face with Bowen-Colthurst he asked O’Carroll if he was a “Shinner’? O’Carroll’s response was unequivocal, he replied… “From the backbone out”. Hence the title of the play which premiered in Dublin’s Liberty Hall to a packed audience of 400 people in April last year. The play is the work of two young Dublin men, Alan O’Brien and Patrick Ferris and marks their debut into playwriting.

Alan is a poet, writer and part-time actor and has won a Slam Sunday event as well as being shortlisted for the Maeve Binchey Travel Award in 2015. Co-writer Patrick Ferris has a degree in History and Classics and has written ‘as far back as he can recall’.

Now this dynamic duo has written (Alan) and directed (Patrick) an award-winning radio play Snow Falls and So Do We. Winner of the P J O’Connor Award 2016 (RTE) the play has been independently produced for the internet. It has received wide acclaim described by one listener as “Very Beckett. Kept me totally enthralled”. Other comments can be viewed on the link below.

Link to the play on soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/greenember/snow-falls-and-so-do-we

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Extracts from reviews of ‘Against the Wind’

The most pleasing thing about this readable, amusing and perceptive memoir is that O’Brien, who is clearly a scholar of literature, drama and history, weaves his erudition seamlessly into his life-affirming tale of working class life.

 Fergus Whelan,

LookLeft

  Ah, yes, the Irish sure do have a way with words – a very entertaining, humorous, intelligent, loving and proud memoir. More literary gold from the “Emerald Isle”.

 

                                                                                                                                Wendy O’Hanlon,

                                                                Acres Australia

  I loved this little bit of history about a big period of sadness that happened in a proud country where people stood solid for what they believed to be right and just. A powerful story written from a heart that witnessed the country he loved torn in two.

 

                                                                            John Morrow,

Pick of the Week

 

 O’Brien weaves together the many threads of history and his own life to produce an informed tale that will interest many readers well beyond the globe’s enormous Irish Diaspora.

 

                                                                             Robin Osborne,

Media Adviser

 

 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  


 While his later life took him to Australia, this memoir stands out among those which tell a wider tale than interesting anecdotes about growing up in Dublin or other places in the “Rare Oul’ Times”. It looks into the developing mind of a young person who is not only intensely observant of the world but conscious of their class and the challenges before it, and most critically, can convey it to the reader.

 

Michael Halpenny,

Liberty

 O’Brien’s long held view is that it was necessary to remove the gun from Irish politics. Some years later the IRA came to the same conclusion. An erudite and entertaining read.

                                                                              Bendigo Weekly

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized