John Boyle was born and raised in Scotland but he could never feel Scottish. His parents were poor immigrants from the West of Ireland who came to Scotland to find work and eventually settled in Paisley, where John was the first of six children.
Galloway Street beautifully captures the poverty and the rough humour of the family's life in the Paisley tenements, the songs and stories of their Irish Catholic relatives and the often uneasy relationships with their Scottish Protestant neighbours. It also shows how the boy is marked at the age of ten by an extended stay with his spinster aunt on the remote island of Achill, as he begins to understand the life his parents left behind.
This is a book about exile and belonging, about the poignancy of growing up Irish in Scotland, so close to the place your mother still calls home. It is a truthful, funny and moving evocation of a unique place and time, experienced through the eyes of a child.
"'Compels complete attention because everything here, down to the last full stop, has been carefully considered...a precise and deeply moving evocation of the vanished Irish immigrant world that once flourished in Scotland. And of its many achievements, surely the most important of all is that Galloway Street describes a miserable childhood without a shred of self-pity'"
"'An affecting account...Boyle refreshes the familiar material with an engagingly plain, colloquial style...valuable as a historic record, but this eventually seems incidental to its value as a recollection of a fairly ordinary life in a particular time and place'"
"'Full of humour in the midst of grinding poverty'"
"'Very moving, funny and insightful . . . obviously written from the heart'"
"A boy's story, the everyday life of the child of immigrants, by a writer of great promise"