Tipperary, by Frank Delaney *****

review “The most eloquent man in the world”? It’s entirely possible.

This hyper-literate narrative inside a narrative inside a narrative unfolds as a simple tale at first, then becomes more complex as this deft tale-spinner pulls the scope out one notch at a time.

In addition, we are provided with a passionate re-telling of the atrocities visited on the Irish by the Anglo and Irish-Anglo ruling class. Delaney puts such genuine feeling into the narrative of the republican movement as it progressed in the early 20th century that I am surprised the writer doesn’t find himself on the do-not-fly list. His honesty and appreciation of the struggle is refreshing, at times surprisingly witty, and disarming.

At the story’s beginning, I really do not care much for Charles O’Brien and his stalker-like behavior toward April Burke. No means no. What’s WITH this guy?

But then later, the narrator (who is a character within the story) says more or less the same thing, and in due time, I find myself warming toward this awkward but well-meaning fellow. And as the narrator’s camera zooms out and encompasses so much more, I read more closely.

Occasionally I made the error of trying to read it AFTER I took the sleeping pills, and found I had to go back the next time and reread. It is not a story for the short attention span or one who wishes to multitask; it is absorbing, and requires one’s entire focus. But I found it rewarding enough to devote the necessary time and attention, and even found myself doing web-crawls to see how much of one or another historical detail was true, and how much was fictional or unknown.

In the end, my book was jammed full of sticky notes, and I felt as if I had traveled over oceans and centuries. An eloquent story, indeed!

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