Irish-American author Eamon Loingsigh will read excerpts from his new novel, “Light of the Diddicoy” at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 12, at Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University.
The book tells the tale of Irish gangs on the Brooklyn waterfront in the early part of the 20th century. Forced at age 14 to travel alone to America after money grew scarce in Ireland, Liam Garrity stumbles directly into the hard-knock streets of the Irish-run waterfront and falls in with a bridge district gang called the White Hand. Through a series of increasingly tense and brutal scenes, he has no choice but to use any means necessary to survive and carve out his place in a no-holds-barred community living outside the law.
“During my childhood, my grandparents told me stories about a place called ‘Irishtown’ in Brooklyn, which was similar to Manhattan’s Five Points,” Loingsigh said. “Both neighborhoods had thousands of Irish that settled in the area after The Great Hunger and had very distinct Irish personalities.”
The book is the first of Loingsigh’s Auld Irishtown trilogy, which delves into the stories and lore of the gangs and families in this under-documented area of Brooklyn’s Irish underworld.
“The Great Hunger is the ground that the story in the Auld Irishtown trilogy grows from,” Loingsigh said.
Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the Irish Famine. The museum preserves, builds and presents its art collection in order to stimulate reflection, inspire imagination and advance awareness of Ireland’s Great Hunger and its long aftermath on both sides of the Atlantic.
The collection focuses on the famine years from 1845-52, when blight destroyed virtually all of Ireland’s potato crops for consecutive years. The crop destruction, coupled with British governmental indifference to the plight of the Irish, who at the time were part of the United Kingdom, resulted in the deaths of more than 1 million Irish men, women and children and the emigration of more than 2 million to nations around the world. This tragedy occurred even though there was more than adequate food in the country to feed its starving populace. Exports of food and livestock from Ireland actually increased during the years of the Great Hunger.
Works by noted contemporary Irish artists are featured at the museum including internationally known sculptors John Behan, Rowan Gillespie and Eamonn O’Doherty; as well as contemporary visual artists, Robert Ballagh, Alanna O’Kelly Brian Maguire and Hughie O’Donoghue. Featured paintings include several important 19th and 20th‐century works by artists such as James Brenan, Daniel MacDonald, James Arthur O’Connor and Jack B. Yeats.
The museum is open Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays 1-5 p.m.
“I am not only excited about reading at Quinnipiac University’s Great Hunger Museum, I am honored,” Loingsigh said. “My family educated me from day one about The Great Hunger and Irish history.”