New Galway novel explores embattled family farming life

An American perspective on family farming in the west of Ireland from Galway's Ryan Dennis

Ryan Dennis.

Ryan Dennis.

AN AGEING Irish farmer, Íosac Mulgannon, is trying to keep hold of his farm. He may be going senile, and as these twin battles rage, he seeks to protect and care for a mute boy, burdened with a particular curse.

This is The Beasts They Turned Away, the debut novel from Galway based, USA born, writer Ryan Dennis, published by Epoque Press, and which will be available from today, Thursday March 11. The novel draws from Ryan's experiences in farming both in the US and in Ireland.

"I grew up on a small dairy farm in western New York state, and in 2014 my parents were forced to sell their herd," he says. "My passion for writing about agriculture has become my principal focus. Specifically, I looked for different ways in which to spark public dialogue in regards to supporting family agriculture, and to emphasize the value of doing so."

The Beasts They Turned Away cover

"I took a specific interest in Irish agriculture," Ryan continues, "partly because Ireland is one of the few places in which farming is still somewhat integrated into the social fabric of the general public, as evidenced with shows such as Countrywide, and the presence of farming in the media. In the US, family farming has all but entirely disappeared."

The result is The Beasts They Turned Away. "To my knowledge," he says, "it is the only fiction that addresses such concerns in modern agriculture," he says. "I hope it will help flame the debate on how to best serve Irish family farming, and help prevent other farming families from going through what my family did."

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