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.
Praise for Kevin Kearns’ other unique oral histories of Dublin
The Legendary “Lugs” Branigan: Ireland’s Most Famed Garda
‘A revealing portrait not just of a passionate and dedicated public figure, but also of a society undergoing great and constant change.’ The Irish Independent
Ireland’s Arctic Siege: The Big Freeze of 1947
This story might have come from some Polar Expedition. It is almost unbelievable that such conditions could exist in Ireland.’ The Irish Times
The Bombing of Dublin’s North Strand, 1941: The Untold Story
‘What shines through is the courage and goodness of ordinary people, untrained for such catastrophe, in their attempts to save and help their fellow Dubliners.’ The Irish Times
Dublin Tenement Life: An Oral History
‘Among the finest books ever written about Dublin.’ The Sunday Tribune
‘This is truly an admirable book, capturing echoes of a vanished world. It is only by reading this book that I was enabled to re-imagine the society which the respondents recalled to Kevin Kearns during what must have been many hundreds of hours of patient interviewing.’ The Irish Times
‘This book will long stand as the definitive social history of Ireland’s gulags, where the poor were herded together in conditions worse than animals and will hopefully serve as further inspiration to those who still campaign for decent housing for all our citizens.’ Joe Duffy
‘Those of us who know and love Dublin owe Kearns a huge debt.’ Roddy Doyle
Dublin Voices: An Oral Folk History
‘This book is a goldmine of tiny details. The narrative voices that speak from every page of this book do so in an unfiltered language entirely their own.’ The Sunday Times
Kevin C. Kearns, PhD, is a social historian and Professor Emeritus at the University of Northern Colorado. He has written thirteen books on Dublin, most notably Dublin Tenement Life, which was No. 1 on The Irish Times bestseller list for many weeks. Other books include Ireland’s Arctic Siege and The Legendary “Lugs” Branigan. He now lives on the coast of Maine.