Patrick Deeley's train journey home to rural East Galway in autumn 1978 was a pilgrimage of grief: his giant of a father had been felled, the hurley-making workshop silenced.
From this moment, Patrick unfolds his childhood as a series of evocative moments, from the intricate workings of the timber workshop run by his father to the slow taking apart of an old tractor and the physical burial of a steam engine; from his mother’s steady work on an old Singer sewing machine to his father’s vertiginous quickstep on the roof of their house. There are many wonderful descriptions of the natural world and delightful cameos of characters and incidents from a not-so-long-ago country childhood.
In a style reminiscent of John McGahern’s Memoir, Deeley’s beautifully paced prose captures the rhythms, struggles and rough edges of a rural life that was already dying even as he grew. This is an enchanting, beautifully written account of family, love, loss, and the unstoppable march of time.
A glorious book, a perfect elegy, a gorgeous tumble of memories of life, death, love and, above all, family.The Hurley Maker's Son is suffused with warmth and joy and an ineffable sadness. The closing passages, like many in this book, are exquisite and almost unbearable.
There is something both eerie and deeply convincing about Deeley's re-inhabiting of the landscape that formed him, the family that shaped and nourished him. Every sentence rings true, like an axe biting into seasoned wood, a hurley striking the ball cleanly.
A courageous and heartfelt work, a lament and an act of recuperation, deceptively artless and engagingly plainspoken.
Gloriously poetic . . . Every sentence counts in this beautiful, evocative memoir. The prose shimmers. I adored it.