Through the eyes of his American-born daughter, Crashing an American Wake traces the life and times of Bernard Keane from Bookalagh townland in County Galway. Bernard emigrated from Ireland to America in 1930. Regretting he didn't keep a promise to his mother, the story both imagined and factual, brings his life full circle.
Bernard born in 1908 was called Brian growing up. After he settled in the states, he was known as Barney, the Irishman.
In 1986, he had his final sending off. He was 78. Like his American Wake in Bookalagh the night before he left home, hundreds of relatives and friends came from all around.
The two wakes lean like bookends to a life of a man the author simply knew as Dad. But after several years of research and trips to Ireland, Keane discovers he was much more, he was a reflection of the 20th century as a witness and participant of major events that took place in Ireland and America - such as the 1916 Rebellion, emigration, the Great Depression, WWII and the Irish diaspora.
"I am a Keane," writes author Colleen Keane at the end of the story. "Cailin Ni' Chathain" in Irish. And on her grandmother's side of the family, a descendent of the O'Connor dynasty.
"Crashing an American Wake" is an important read for anyone interested in Irish history and finding their own Irish roots.