Some Lessons in Gaelic, by McCawley Grange, is an Irish novel set, among other locations,
in a Southern Irish school
When an eleven-year-old English boy arrives in Southern Ireland, walking on his hands
and quoting Shakespeare, the natives begin to treat him with suspicion.
The town he finds himself in is a small mid-century (1950) maelstrom of snobbery,
nationalism, sexual repression and quaint quintessential Irish intolerance, presided
over by a clergy, discharging duties of guidance and tutelage with unparalleled fervour
in their school. It also has a spectral madman, wandering the Wicklow Mountains,
calling to the moon for his young wife who has been buried alive in the bogs.
Avoiding the clutches of the madman and with a pathological desire to avenge all
wrongs, be they big or small, real or imagined, he embarks on a mission to win the
bemused community to his side. Perhaps trying to murder the meretricious Plunkett
brothers isn’t the best way to go about it.
Do we ever see ourselves as others see us? But guided by the gentle Brother Mulligan
and the impish but morally sound Poppy Boyle, the boy begins to come to terms with
himself and with others and after some harsh lessons, earns through rite of passage,
his first steps to adolescence.
‘This troubled rite of passage takes the reader back to 1950s Southern Ireland and
the extraordinary characters of a small fishing village. Some Lessons In Gaelic is
at times touching, evocative and sinister, woven throughout with the wry, sometimes
savage self-deprecating humour of a desperately insecure protagonist.’