Today I’m delighted to introduce a wonderful memoir recounting one man’s trip around Ireland’s coastline with a donkey and cart.
In Last of the Donkey Pilgrims, Kevin O’Hara experiences Ireland in all her incredible glory. During his crazy trek around Ireland’s perimeter, he meets an unbelievable cast of characters, who could hail from no other country in the world other than Ireland.
And good news! One lucky reader will win a copy of Last of the Donkey Pilgrims.
But before I share the details of how to enter the giveaway, let me first introduce you to Kevin, and his stubborn yet lovable donkey Missy, who together undertook this once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Last Of The Donkey Pilgrims:
In 1979, Kevin O’Hara was a restless young man, dealing with the emotional impact of the Vietnam war and wishing to move on with life. This book took 25 years to write but in the end it recounts Kevin’s healing and loving journey around old Ireland, the land of his ancestors.
As an Irish American Kevin always felt deeply connected to Ireland and often visited his Irish granny in County Roscommon. Fascinated by Ireland, Kevin longed to experience the country and its people fully before modernization took hold, making rural Ireland’s old way of life a thing of the past.
He determined the best way to accomplish his objective was to travel the country slowly, savoring every moment, and counting every step along the way as he trekked the coastline of Ireland.
This journey helped Kevin keep a promise he made to his Irish mother back in Massachussetts. He had committed to exploring the “Old Country” in the hope of truly understanding the land and its people. At the end of his 1800-mile trip around the jagged coast of Ireland he hoped to return to the US ready to share the stories, sights, sounds and vitality of the land of their ancestors.
Kevin O’Hara’s journey of self-discovery may seem like a crazy endeavor to many, but through his beautifully crafted memoir, he affords us a glimpse of a land and time that is now past.
The first few chapters recount Kevin’s preparations for this arduous trip. Learning how to care for his donkey was no mean feat. But Kevin never learned to crack the whip across Missy’s back. Being a softhearted man poor Kevin was on foot most of the time, unable to force the stubborn Missy to carry him, his gear and the cart. Missy only moved when Kevin walked beside her.
Throughout this trek the reader is introduced to the vibrant characters Kevin met throughout the course of his journey, many of whom were bemused by the idea of an American leading a donkey and cart around the whole perimeter of Ireland.
Through the power of Kevin’s lyrical prose, vivid descriptions and appreciation for Ireland’s majestic scenery, Mother Ireland herself becomes one of the main characters in this adventure.
Kevin O’Hara is a master storyteller, and his memoir is overflowing with his ever-so-Irish, self-deprecating sense of humor, his dry wit and love of Ireland.
Kevin’s evolving relationship with Missy becomes a central and moving theme as the story progresses. They started off as strangers, but with each mile passed along the way, their mutual bond of affection and reliance upon each other becomes clearly evident.
Missy and Kevin walked side-by-side over mountains and valleys, through sleepy villages, lively towns and traffic-clogged cities. Along the way they take us right into the heart of Ireland, to the firesides and farmhouses of the Irish people.
Kevin’s prose is so descriptive, reading this book is like taking a mini-vacation to Ireland in your mind. As you read, it is simple to imagine yourself traveling along, perched up on the back of Missy’s cart.
Here’s some high praise indeed from Library Journal ….
“One of the finest books about contemporary Ireland ever written…
In a style evocative of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, O’Hara writes memorably of his most unusual way of touring his ancestral home of Ireland.”
and from one of Ireland’s famous musicians …
“Kevin O’Hara’s book should be in every Irish classroom.”
~ Matt Molloy, The Chieftans
For anyone with Irish roots, this is a captivating tale. This is not merely a travelogue but an achingly beautiful account of the Irish people in changing times.
Throughout these pages the reader learns about Ireland, her people, her culture and history. Each encounter along the way is a written testament to Ireland’s renowned hospitality.
But Kevin did not only discover Ireland while shuffling around the island in the company of a donkey. His journey helped renew his faith in the human race, and heal his soul after the traumas of the Vietnam war.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The scenes Kevin describes are part and parcel of my Irish childhood memories, making this book a truly nostalgic journey for me. Thank you Kevin for affirming my love of the culture and nation in which I grew up, and for capturing the essence of my homeland. An an Irish woman I found your descriptive narrative to be a pure joy to read.
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Kevin O’Hara’s book, Last of the Donkey Pilgrims.
To enter just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Wednesday October 5th, 2016.
Any comment will do. What you write does not affect your chance of winning, but if you need inspiration for your entry why not tell us about any donkey stories you may have stored away in the recesses of your mind.
One winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so I can contact you should you win. Your e-mail won’t be published, just used to contact our lucky contestant for mailing of the prize.
The winner will be announced on Wednesday October 5th, 2016, at the bottom of this blog post.
You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstakes’ entries by clicking here.
Thanks to everyone who supports this little giveaway by leaving a comment, and for sharing it with family, and friends who enjoy reading Irish books.
And a big thanks to Kevin O’Hara for his wonderful book.
Update – Winner Chosen:
Good news. Our winner has been chosen using the randomized “Pick Giveaway Winner” WordPress plug-in.
Congratulations to …..
I’ll send Sheila a quick e-mail to let her know she is our prize winner.
Thanks to everyone who joined in and entered this little Irish American Mom giveaway. Wishing everyone happy reading. And wishing Kevin Dyer inspiration for many more books to come.
If you would like to become an armchair traveler why not take a tour of Ireland’s counties.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
If you enjoyed this guest post, here are some other installments you might enjoy ….