Arses and Elbows: A Memoir
“McCourt spoke of Irish Catholic poverty of the 1940’s and 1950’s in Limerick.
Cullinane brilliantly evokes the same period in West Waterford.
It was a poverty of which all were blissfully unaware in that
most shared the same circumstances unencumbered by the technological
innovations found in modern day America.”
“My husband grew up in Abbeyside so I bought this book trying to learn more about where he was from. Truthfully, you don’t have to have an Abbeyside connection to like this book. It is honest account of what growing up in the 50s was like in a small village of Ireland. I am from Chicago, and could still relate. Every town no matter how big or small has interesting and unique characters. I felt like I had hopped into a time machine with this book. One of the chapters included an account of my father-in-law’s cousin and I got a kick out of reading it. I also loaned the book to a friend with no Irish connection and she also enjoyed it.
I mailed a copy to my husband’s cousin who lives in New York. Her dad is from Abbeyside as well, where the story takes place. She enjoyed reading the book so much that she went about contacting the author to send him a short note. He followed up with a phone call and a signed hardcopy book…”
“This book made me chuckle, and, at the end brought tears to my eyes. It gave me a taste of what life in Ireland might have been like for my forebears. An enjoyable, good read, even if you’re not Irish but enjoy learning about other people and other cultures.”
Arses & Elbows:
by James Cullinane
The seventh of eight children, James G. Cullinane was born in 1941 in the small sea village of Abbeyside on the southeast coast of Ireland. Although opportunities for a better life were scarce, he and his family created a home full of love and laughter.
Cullinane recalls this treasured time in his boyhood with his honest and affectionate memoir, Arses and Elbows. With fields, rivers, and nearby mountains as his playground, Cullinane, his brothers and sisters, and his friends explored abandoned castles, watched the “thrashing” machine at work in the grain field, and picked blackberries. As they grew older, the adventures became more daring.
Whether it was sneaking a cigarette or spying on amorous couples in the bushes, Cullinane reveled in his youth and learned some of life’s most valuable lessons. Filled with the vivid sights, smells, and sounds of rural Ireland, Arses and Elbows takes you to a simpler time and place, and intimately reveals one boy’s journey to maturity.
Abbeyside, a small village situated across a causeway from the town of Dungarvan on the southeast coast of Ireland, was where I was born and brought up.
Many left at fourteen to join ships as cabin boys and spend their lives sailing the world’s oceans. Most returned to die there. In the winter, the wind blew from the bay, carrying horizontal sheets of rain that beat against doors and windows, bent hanging signs and penetrated every nook and cranny. It penetrated, too, raincoats, scarves and hoods and we cowered before it with bowed heads and acknowledged its power.