Sunday 12 June 2022

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?: A Memoir by Seamas O'Reilly


Thank you to Hachette Audio, Little, Brown & Company and Netgalley for my review copy.


“In this joyous, wildly unconventional memoir, Séamas O'Reilly tells the story of losing his mother as a child and growing up with ten siblings in Northern Ireland during the final years of the Troubles as a raucous comedy, a grand caper that is absolutely bursting with life." ―PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE, NYT bestselling author of Say Nothing and Empire of Pain

Séamas O’Reilly’s mother died when he was five, leaving him, his ten (!) brothers and sisters, and their beloved father in their sprawling bungalow in rural Derry. It was the 1990s; the Troubles were a background rumble, but Séamas was more preoccupied with dinosaurs, Star Wars, and the actual location of heaven than the political climate.
An instant bestseller in Ireland, Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? is a book about a family of loud, argumentative, musical, sarcastic, grief-stricken siblings, shepherded into adulthood by a man whose foibles and reticence were matched only by his love for his children and his determination that they would flourish.

A humorous look back over a childhood filled with love and marred by loss. It's a gentle and moving read and the humour is abundant. There are so many one-liners laced with dark humour that people from the north are so good at. It brought back many of my own memories from my childhood and teenage years.
Everything about the time period is familiar to me as it's our collective recent history and yet in such a short space of time it has become a bygone era. Remembering the way it was back then just highlights how far Derry has moved on from the Troubles.
I listened to the audio version of this book and for the first time, I didn't need to speed up the narration on my app. I liked that the author spoke at a normal speed and in a familiar accent. It felt like he was there next to us in the pub regaling a story and having the craic. Listeners from outside Ireland or who are unfamiliar with the accent may need to tune themselves into it at a slower speed. Listening to a sample would be a good idea
I found the story very moving but not in a sad way although there are obviously sad memories touched upon. The love the author has for his father shines through and I thought it was really lovely that his father could listen to his son reading the memoir and hear him put into words what we often struggle to say out loud to those we love.
A brilliantly told memoir emotional and funny.

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