Annual Breakfast Features Authors of New Blasket Island Book

The ICC’s Annual Breakfast, on Sunday, October 4 at 10:00 am at the Yankee Pedlar in Holyoke, is a great opportunity to meet and mingle, with good food, pleasant company, and a review of the year’s activities. The public is welcome to attend this annual event.

Tickets are $20 for members and $23 for non-members. They will not be sold at the door; please call the ICC for more info or to reserve your place at a table: 413-265-2537.

The Last Blasket KingAuthors Gerald Hayes and Eliza Kane will be featured speakers at the event. Hayes and Kane are authors of the recently released “The Last Blasket King, Pádraig Ó Catháin, An Rí,” which tells the story of the last King of the Great Blasket Island located off the coast of Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland.

The Great Blasket has special significance in the Springfield area because so many islanders relocated here during the decline of the island in the first half of the twentieth century. Among those who settled in Springfield was Mike “The Fiddler” Kane, the King’s first-born son.

Eliza Kane is great-great-granddaughter of Pádraig Ó Catháin, the last King of the Great Blasket Island. She is co-producer of “The Crest,” a documentary film about the King and his descendants. She has taught literature and writing in the United States and France. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and daughter, the great-great-great-granddaughter of the King.

Gerald Hayes is the son-in-law of Michael Carney, a Blasket-born Springfield resident who died in late August at the age of 94. In 2013, Hayes and Carney co-authored “From the Great Blasket to America: The Last Memoir by an Islander,” which tells of Carney’s own life voyage from the Great Blasket to Springfield. Hayes is a retired vice president of Westfield State University in Westfield.

Hayes and Kane will speak about their book, which has been published by The Collins Press of Cork, Ireland. Autographed copies will be on sale at the event.

From the book:

“There is something magical about the notion of a King on a small isolated island. Few would look at the ruins on the Great Blasket and imagine a King had lived there. Yet the King was a very forceful presence on this island. The last was Pádraig Ó Catháin, known as ‘Peats Mhicí,’ who served for about twenty-five years until his death in 1929. To the islanders, he was arguably the most important citizen and was the central figure on the island during its literary flowering. He helped the slanders navigate through life and national and world events such as the 1916 Rising and The Great War. He collaborated with the other ‘elders’ in planning the transfer of ownership of the island from the Earl of Cork to the Congested Districts Board in 1907 and, in turn, to the islanders themselves. They also participated in the reorganization of the field system between 1907 and 1917.

This is the first account of the King’s extraordinary life, written in collaboration with his descendants in the USA and Ireland. It tells of the very special, unique man, his many contributions to the island and his extended legacy.”

Please join us for this enlightening and entertaining event.

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