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An American Son And  His Irish Father Find Each Other …An Ocean Apart
        By Sabina Clarke
My Father Left Me Ireland
By Michael Brendan Dougherty
Penguin Random House
New York, New York, $24.00
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This  raw beautifully written heartfelt memoir narrated in the form of a long letter to his father Brendan  is packed with  emotion and  dedicated to his  unmarried single working  mother Maryellen who raised him  alone  with the  support of her  family at a time when unmarried single working mothers were often frowned upon.
    
The author’s happy childhood is overcast by the absence of his father who lived across the ocean in Ireland---a father who visited a few times over the years, sporadic visits that left a young boy with even more longing and confusion.
    
His memories from his boyhood through adulthood are unraveled and examined up-close and will resonate with anyone who has experienced any kind of loss—“the way one discovers having missed an entire way of life when it is too late.”
    
Traveling to Europe in the 1970’s, his adventurous mom Maryellen met his father Brendan through her best friend, an Irish Londoner. For his father, it was just a summer romance. For his mother, it was something  more. She informed him of their son’s birth by letter and nursed a deep hurt caused by unrequited love.
    
What makes this  more than a  personal memoir is the author’s search for his Irish heritage kindled  by his mother at a very  early age when she would read him children’s stories in  Irish and every night put him to bed saying good night in Irish- “ Oiche mhaith.”  
    
Interwoven with personal memories is Irish history and stories about The Rising and iconic heroes such as James Connolly and Padraic Pearse and Roger Casement—with chapters that open with lyrical lines from the great Irish poets such as W.B. Yeat’s, “Come away. O human child! To the waters and the wild with a faery, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” (from ‘The Stolen Child’)
    
And in telling the history   the author  offers his own thoughts of that time  suffused with his unmistakable  delight in connecting to his  roots –his own history his birthright –his Ireland— that he inherited from his father and that he has now finally  reclaimed while reclaiming   his lost  father and his  Irish step-brother and  two Irish step-sisters .
    
All now embraced in a circle of love with the author, his wife Marissa and their two children four year-old Eleanor and two-year-old Owen.
    
The very sad note is that his mother Maryellen who did it all did not live to read her son’s grateful homage to her. She died 7 years ago at the age of fifty-six.
    A tale well told—parts of which made me cry.
    
About the author: Michael Brendan Dougherty senior editor at National Review and formerly an editor at The Week is a graduate of Fordham University where he majored in history. This is his first book.