Ireland – The Island of the White Cow - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Ireland – The Island of the White Cow

Ireland – The Island of the White Cow

Published April 21, 2009

A divorced Irish playwright comes to teach for a year at the English department of an American university. He falls for a pretty student named Deborah Tall, she falls for him, and he convinces her to run away with him after graduation to the island of Inishbofin off the northwest coast of Ireland. The book tells the story of their five years there, from 1972 to 1977. This was Ireland long before it got all those European Union development grants and slashed its corporate taxes to attract business. The islanders are fascinating, and make good company, but are (much like Kpomassie’s Greenlanders) burdened by unemployment, alcoholism, remoteness, jealousy, and frustrated ambitions. The island lacks a good store, reliable telephone service, and a running water supply. Tall is forced to cast off most of her romantic notions of island life, but she gains wisdom from her hardship, and she writes beautiful prose. This book speaks to anyone who has ever dreamed of giving it all up and buying an old house by the green fields and stormy coasts on the western edge of Europe. Eventually, Tall and her Irish friend split up, and she returned to the United States, where she had a successful career as writer, editor, and teacher before her untimely death in 2006.
Not held by any Icelandic library, but used copies from Amazon.com cost $4.

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