Turlough O'Carolan was considered to be the last irish Bard. He lived in the 1600s, and was struck down with a disease that left him blind. His family were poor, but with the aid of a wealthy patron, he was able to become a harpist. Carolan supported himself by travelling about Ireland, playing and writing music for the wealthy. His music survives to this day.
The book follows O'Carolan through the last days of his life, using the memories and letters of those who knew him best to map out his existence. This is not a pure biography - it is heavily based on the known facts, but Keenan has used his imagination to fill in the gaps, creating a work somewhere between biography and literature. It is a sublime piece of writing, skillfully constructive and amazingly emotive.
This report prepared by Bryn Pearson