Irish American author Mike Farragher released his latest collection of short stories 9 Rooms in Ballyglunin on March 17.
Set in a uniquely welcoming bed and breakfast in the west of Ireland, where guests check in with change on their minds, the idea for the collection came to him on a recent inspirational trip to old sod.
“I stayed in a terrific B&B in County Galway last year where the innkeeper told me that she had quit her job to concentrate on her establishment full time,” Farragher tells the Irish Voice. “In conversation on the first night she said, “The character's that come in here, I could write a book about them.” And I told her that she better hurry up before I do, because it sounded like a pretty good idea.”
9 Rooms in Ballyglunin introduces us to Fiona Burke, fictional proprietor of the a bed and breakfast and each of her guests checks in as their lives are coming apart or being reassembled.
Ballyglunin, by the way, is a real village located close to Tuam, County Galway, the town that became notorious after the Tuam Mother and Baby Home scandal hit the headlines with accounts of infants being buried in a former septic tank.
Faragher's father's side of the family originally hails from Ballyglunin and although his son was born and raised in the States he spent longs summers there growing up which taught him how to decode what visitors miss.
“I spent a lot of summers in the area visiting the grandparents for three or four weeks at a time. The best review I ever got referred to me a Yank, but not quite.” That's praise indeed from the insular locals, who jealously guard the integrity of the tribe. “It was one of those back handed compliments. They knew I'd been around long enough to figure out what the real deal was.”
But Farragher is attentive to authenticity from the Irish American side of the equation too. “I think The Brother's McMullan was the last film I saw that was somewhat evocative of the Irish American experience. Most of the time its just this shamrockery portrayal and that's not a match for the very creative sharp tongued, sharp witted people I associate with.”
The time is right to portray Irish Americans as they truly are and that's exactly what he's been busy doing, he says. His first story collection This Is Your Brain On Shamrocks still gets so many comments from readers that he's adapted the collection for the small screen (a pilot series was recently filmed in Kansas, with the hope it will go to series).
“Watching the actors work was so rewarding and the town was just buzzing about it. I went to the Kansa City Irish Center and I was greeted like family. I think they saw it as an opportunity to tell our story.”
Farragher is simultaneously releasing an audiobook this month of his This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks series, which he describes as humorous personal essays about growing up Irish, Catholic, and guilty in the swamps of his native New Jersey.
“Many readers were asking for an audiobook version and the process of recording it was a totally new avenue of self-expression. I found my voice all over again in the process!”
Farragher will launch a book tour in both America and Ireland in the spring. For more information or to order a copy of 9 Rooms in Ballyglunin visit thisisyourbrainonshamrocks.com.