Cover image for A Celtic childhood
A Celtic childhood
Watkins, Bill, 1950-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
St. Paul, Minn. : Hungry Mind Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
322 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA690.B6 W38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DA690.B6 W38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The first book in a trilogy, A Celtic Childhood offers a collection of colorful characters and humorous memories spanning Watkins's boyhood years. Whether saving his elementary school Christmas pagent from utter disaster when a fire breaks out on stage, or dressing up as a gangster and causing havoc at a gala wedding affair, the roisterous young Liam never allowed for a dull moment. Here we see the origins of Watkins's literary and theatrical talents as he takes us to his family gatherings in Limerick and Wales, where Celtic poetry, history, and song were as lush as the rolling countryside.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

It's a brave act to publish a book that will inevitably be compared with Angela's Ashes in the same season as Frank McCourt's eagerly awaited sequel, 'Tis. Yet Watkins's demurely titled, rollicking memoir of his boyhood in postwar Ireland and England can bear the comparison, and it deserves to be read for its own brilliance, rhythm and structure. Laugh-out-loud funny, with an eccentric cast of characters (including a "spheraphobic" uncle who wouldn't eat anything round), Watkins's embellished childhood tales make for pure reading pleasure. Language lovers will be charmed by his expressions ("a great feast of a woman") and the glossary of such exotic terms as doolally (to get mad at someone) and Adam and Eve it (believe it). Born in 1950 in Limerick, where, according to his mother, "you can't spit without hitting a piece of history," Watkins inherited the bardic and musical talents of his parents. Mam was gregarious, beautiful and staunchly Irish and Catholic, always ready with a ballad. His Welsh father was raised in Britain and grew up to be an agnostic and freethinker given to drinking and good-natured fighting. The family lived happily in various places: a caravan (trailer), public housing and with his father's family in Birmingham, England. Covering the first 17 years of his life, this first installment in a projected trilogy is a fine coming-of-age story, woven from tales of Watkins's family, school days and boyish adventures, as well as of Catholicism, ghosts and his rambles as a teenage musician. Though it is laced with deprivation and pathos (including the loss of two babies), Watkins's story isn't permeated with the sadness of McCourt's work, though it's equally memorable. Four-city author tour. (Sept.) FYI: The second installment in Watkins's trilogy, Scotland Is Not for the Squeamish, is projected for publication in fall 2000. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This book represents another variation on the currently popular theme of Irish childhood memoirs. Unlike the troubling Angela's Ashes (LJ 8/96), most of this memoir consists of happy childhood tales. The book begins in 1955, when a five-year-old Watkins moves with his parents (his mother is Irish, his father, Welsh) to England. Readers then journey with Watkins through his childhood in the British Isles. The book is filled with entertaining anecdotes and information about Celtic history and languageÄreaders learn about Celtic euphemisms, curses, blessings, and songs. (There's even a complete glossary of vocabulary and lyrics.) It should be noted, however, that Watkins fails to cite any historical or scholarly references; the stories that populate this book appear to have been handed down orally through Watkins's family. Recommended for larger libraries serving patrons interested in modern Celtic themes.ÄAngela M. Weiler, SUNY Libs., Morrisville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.