tara's halls book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Tara’s Halls is a delightfully written memoir chronicling Tom Gallagher’s life in Ireland during the 1950s and 60s. He tells of his childhood in a large family–how the family loved, laughed, survived and sometimes barely managed. Gallagher traversed his childhood like a blind lamb and a brave bull at the same time. He lets readers into the inner circle of his life right away, revealing intimate details and showing them what it’s truly like to be Irish. The back of the book offers some regional word definitions, and there are black-and-white photos of the author and his family throughout the book.

There are 24 chapters in the book; these start rightly at the beginning of the author’s life and move easily through his upbringing. Gallagher lived on a farm, was sent to school for a time, had a first attempt at love, endured pranks and punishments from his elders, and grew up to join the FCA (Irish military), a Local Defense Force in his region. One by one, he watched his older siblings leave home for a better life, and remembered the personal and private tragedies he has had to endure throughout his life. He dreamed of going to America, and at last made good on that pledge to himself. He later lived in the United States and served with the American Armed Forces; he remains in the U.S. today.

What is most interesting about the book is that the facets of the author’s life are told through the eyes of a child. And the “voice” matures as he does through the ages (and pages). This story is absolutely charming, and the author’s perspective shines through so brightly that you feel as if you really know him, because he is the type of stand-up guy you’d want to call your friend.

I found myself laughing and smiling at many passages, and was not at all embarrassed as I read the book while out waiting in public places. When people stared at me for shamelessly enjoying while reading, I just held the cover up a little higher for them to properly read the title themselves.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Irish history, or to anyone who is aspiring to be a writer themselves. This author’s voice can only be described as sensational, interesting, and distinct. I only wish for this book to one day be used for a literature course. Maybe it could be titled, “Significant Irish Authors.” That is one course I’d love to teach myself.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Tom Gallagher. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.