Catherine explains that her father's repertoire of songs, poems, expressions and the like ? those things that made him unique, but also reflected his place in the vibrant communities of County Mayo and mid-century Chicago ? could easily have been forgotten had he not agreed to sit for many hours reminiscing:
"My father often talked about his family, especially his mother, but I thought very little about it until a few years ago," Catherine says. "Suddenly I realized that he was not going to live forever. What was my family's history? I decided to ask for his help and one evening after dinner, he began to talk. He told me to listen carefully, because he didn't want to have to repeat. He shared this entire book from memory."
When Catherine set out to confirm the various details of her father's stories ? from song lyrics to people and places to historical events such as the striping of the land in Ireland ? she discovered an Ireland that everyone should meet.
"It took me quite a long time to confirm words to songs and stories from this area," she writes. "So many of his friends and family have died, but what I have I believe is correct. Even if a person does not want to buy this book for the story, the songs, myths and idiomatic expressions should be something that anyone with an Irish background would want to have in their library."
Bill Bourke passed away in 2007. Catherine Bourke Chambers is the second of his five children. She has been married for 31 years and has three sons. Just a Boy from Home is her first book.
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