EAVAN BOLAND’S ACHILL ISLAND. Eavan Boland’s book OBJECT LESSONS has arrived. The Achill Woman, the woman she celebrates in the poem, has complex meanings for Boland in terms of women, history, Ireland and poetry. I have been reading it for Boland’s description of the island. Boland writes of the cottage where she stayed, in sight of the Atlantic, and the bitter, humid wind at night. She writes of the loneliness. She writes of how the Achill Woman “kept repeating to me that they were great people, the people in the famine.” And the Achill Woman told her of how the villagers in Keel, a village in Achill, “had moved closer to the shore, the better to eat the seaweed.” The Achill Woman was important to Boland because: “She was the first person to talk to me about the famine.” But Boland’s book is also about the hard lives of all her ancestors before and after the famine.

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