Colum McCann – TransAtlantic

Colum McCann
TransAtlantic
Bloomsbury Press

colummccann

If there’s one thing that our history should teach us is that we shouldn’t forget our history.

This is a decade for centenaries in Ireland, The Lockout was remembered last year. Battling is now taking place over who will be Lord Mayor in our cities when the 1916 Rising is 100 years old. After that it will be the War of independence and all the death and suffering that begot our people.

100 years is such a short space of time and yet the stories will all be second hand. My children have the same kind of glazed look painted on their faces when I speak about events I had that glazed look on for. “Yeah Dad, there was a bombing in North Strand, yeah there was a war. Yeah, people fought for the right to vote. Now can I get back to the tv?” We can’t force our children to pretend to care but we can be safe in the knowledge that one day they will care. Beacause of that we owe it to them to keep the flame of history burning by sharing our stories and documenting tales.

TransAtlantic is one such tale. It takes three seperate events in History and links them together on this island. It is beautifully narrated and when we read of Allcock and Browns travails across the Atlantic on the first transatlantic flight we are in the cockpit with them. I find it difficult to drive from one side of this capital city to the other without the aid of a sat nav, how they did it based on horizon only is beyond me. Their landing was photographed and written about in this version of history by descendants of a starving Irish person who was forced to flee their home during the famine. Of course it wasn’t any normal person it was someone who had come across Daniel O’Connell who in the course of his attempt at Catholic Emancipation for the rights of Catholic people to vote in this country came across Frederick Douglass who was on a speaking tour about the plight of Slaves in the US.

Everything is interlinked and this family returned to Ireland, settling in Northern Ireland and being caught up directly in the death and devastation that plagued this part of our island at the end of the last Century. I grew up in the South of Ireland with a fear of the North. Fearful of Protestants in case they would kill me and of Catholics in case they would make me kill. Of course that was wrong, but I had no wikipedia to tell me the truth, only my peers (and thankfully punk rock) to dispel the myths.

The beauty in McCanns writing is the story telling narrative. Very little direct quotes come at you, it’s all in the third person and it flows in a beautiful way that makes you reflect on history and hope we can remember our past whilst celebrating our future.

Sit back, take some time out join with Colum Mc Cann and think about our past
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