Friday, 14 March 2014

Langrishe, Go Down

Recommended to me not once but twice in the space of a week, and only a lifetime (mine) since it was first published, how could I not put Langrishe, Go Down to the top of my tbr pile?

I'm a Kildare woman, and I've spent quite a few years studying English literature, but I had never heard of Aidan Higgins. I don't know why; I don't even have any theories. But when I opened it and began to read it felt as if my DNA was resonating along with the Kildare vowels.

—Grand evening, Helen said.
—Tis indade, grand, thanks be to God
—Not a-tall, M'am. Yarra, not a-tall. Sure you have it all to yourself. The gate's open for all them that want to.
—...All you do hear all the year round is the birds and the Shinkeen flowin by.

The old people who lived around us, Miss Hickey and Paddy Loughman and Jimmy Loughman and Leo (Leo who?) came alive on its pages. Even the house had a name almost identical to the one in which I grew up. Given that it's a book about the demise of a house, and a family, it sent a shiver.

The prose is sublime. 'The pure architecture of his sentences takes the breath out of you,' Annie Proulx says on the cover. I wonder again why I never heard of Aidan Higgins, and how Annie Proulx did! I let it go, let the language surround and imbue me, a 3D Word Picture of Kildare.


  1. A great novel I've been itching to re-read for quite a while. Reminded of it by Eimear McBride's novel, somehow. Must get myself a copy.

  2. That's one I haven't got to. Looking forward to it, especially if it's in the vein of Langrishe.