This memoir is narrated by Séamas O’Reilly, who was five when his mother died and left behind a husband and eleven children. While this tragic event is the focus of the book, it is also a really funny, uplifting story about how the siblings and their dad carried on, living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
“I laughed out loud reading Did Ye Hear Mammy Died, especially at the bits that recalled for me the way my own family laughs to keep from crying…It’s rare to read about good fathers in memoirs, and O’Reilly’s portrait…is hilarious and moving….It is this thread of refusal to be pitied, to have what happened to his family reduced to ‘a tawdry bit of sentimental fluff for people to tut along to and say how sad,’ that makes Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? so rousing. That it is also deadly funny is an extra treat.”―NPR
“Northern Ireland in the time of the Troubles is often cast into a narrative that doesn’t allow room for joy or delight…O’Reilly’s recollection is a splendid paradox, both cheery and heartbreaking.”―Booklist, Starred
“In this joyous, wildly unconventional memoir, Séamas O’Reilly tells the story of losing his mother as a child and growing up with ten siblings in Northern Ireland during the final years of the Troubles as a raucous comedy, a grand caper that is absolutely bursting with life.”―Patrick Radden Keefe, NYT bestselling author of Say Nothing and Empire of Pain