Far from the Land: An Irish Memoir

The setting of Far From the Land is rural Ireland in the 1950s. Thomas Rice has written a memoir about a way of life that no longer exists: no running water, no toilets, no electricity, and little access to education, jobs or basic health care.

Early on the story plunges into a culture haunted by recent memories of famines and still showing some of the scars from The Great Hunger of the 1840s. Writing about father-son relationships, the author recalls the night his absentee (former IRA) father returns from England for the first time in ten years. Known as "The Voice" because of his tenor's talent, the impact of his first song, Thomas Moore's haunting tribute to the sweetheart of his martyred friend, Robert Emmet, was beautiful. The poem was titled, “She is Far From the Land.” No one in the kitchen that night ever forgot it. It was the perfect song, sung by the perfect voice, at the perfect time.

Far From the Land has the benefit of five decades of retrospection as the author brings each of his characters to life with startling honesty, without nostalgia or cliche. Readers will come away with a renewed respect for rural Irish culture and her people.

What readers have said…

I loved every chapter, every page. Rice tells the story of his first 17 years on a rural farm in Ireland and describes the backbreaking work, the cast of eccentric characters, the song and dance in his rambling house all leading up to the heart-rending decision to leave the land he loves and set out for America.
— David G.
Far From the Land has all the elements of great storytelling: fascinating and finely drawn characters, adventure, romance, humor, rebellion, and lessons hard-learned. All told in a lyrical, easygoing cadence. He opens the door wide and invites us in; he gives us the best seat in the house, offers us a pint, and then asks us to dance. I can almost hear the music!
— Sandra H.
I half expected this book to be a sentimental, misty-eyed remembrance of times past. Far from it! It was honest, full of wit, and absolutely captured the sights, sounds, smells, and cultural mores of Ireland during the harsh 50s when the stark choice was between eeking out a bare existence on the land or taking the emigrant boat. I enjoyed every page.
— Barbara K.