Oileán na Márbh: Island of the Dead

ISBN-10: 1500241423

September 1897. The naked body of a young man is washed up on a Donegal beach on Ireland's north-western coast. The local authorities in the form of the Royal Irish Constabulary show little interest in circumstances like this. The Catholic priest refuses to have anything to do with the burial of the stranger. A few locals take it upon themselves to lay him to rest in a shallow, unmarked grave on a local tidal island. He is in the company of countless infants who have been buried there over many generations, most of them victims of the horrendous Irish famine of the 'Hungry Forties'. Their cemetery is Oileán na Márbh, 'the island of the dead' where the nameless lie in limbo, between sea and sky, between earth and heaven. In a Scottish village a clergyman and his wife pore over the diary of their son, searching for clues about what has happened to him during a visit to Ireland. Andrew was a talented artist; he had been sent to Donegal to help his railway-planner uncle survey the route for a proposed line across the bogs of the county in an effort to bring some prosperity to the poverty-striken west. The diary seems to be all that remains of him and is a window to his innermost fears and joys. What his parents read shocks and saddens them, challenging their marriage, their life's work and their very faith. Meanwhile on Donegal’s western coast, Sean Ban Sweeney, who was the one to find the body on the shore, is struggling with his feelings for Annie O'Donnell, his childhood sweetheart. Annie is different; beautiful, a uniquely talented musician but a lonely and damaged seventeen-year-old, cocooned in her silent world. Sean Ban tries to understand her as he leads his simple life on the land, oblivious to the circumstances and forces which are about to alter his life forever. A central theme of the novel is the notion that people in every age, while trying to make sense of the events of their lives, can only see reality from their own limited perspective and never have ac

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