For over 30 years, renowned author and historian Kevin C. Kearns has been recording and publishing the valuable memories and recollections of Dubliners. In his latest book, he revisits the extraordinary year of 1963, bringing to life the voices of the ordinary people who lived through it in a way no conventional history could match.
It was a year like no other. Not for any one monumental event, but for an astonishing sequence of occurrences — triumphs and tragedies, joys and sorrows — that spanned all twelve months.
Ireland 1963 deftly records the unrelenting roller coaster ride of dramas, traumas and mysteries of that year: a biblical-like flash flood, tenement collapses and victims, the liberating Bingo Craze, and a frightening ‘mystery caller’ posing as a priest. And, of course, it was the year of President Kennedy’s rapturous four-day visit to Ireland.
The year reached its climax with fear for thirty Irish passengers aboard the liner Lakonia, “ablaze and sinking” at sea during Christmas week. Yet, a series of happy and frolicsome events throughout the year balanced people’s emotions and brought great joy to their lives.
Such a bewildering and fascinating year demands a grass-roots type of social history, one that is biographical in nature. Kevin C. Kearns humanises these events by relying on oral history from participants and observers who were on the scene over fifty years ago. Their words and emotions bring a riveting authenticity and immediacy to this wondrous biography of the extraordinary year of 1963.