Hungry For Home

“Extraordinary … when I put it down I wasn’t sure whether I had seen the film or read the text; the quality of its writing creates an essence which is both visual, oral and literary.” Irish Times

Hungry For Home by Cole Moreton was published in hardback by Viking in 2000 and in paperback by Penguin the following year. It was shortlisted for the prestigious John Lewellyn Rhys Prize for a first book in any genre, alongside White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Serialised on Irish radio, this was also one of the Sunday Times travel books of the year.

Now a new edition is being prepared, in which Cole returns to the Great Blasket with the last islandman, a 93-year-old risking life and limb for one final look at home.

Scroll down for more, click below to hear the opening page read by Enda Oates for RTÊ.


This is a book about home and what that means, a voyage to America from the edge of Ireland and a gripping account of the search for a vanished people. It is the story of a small island community that came to occupy a huge space in the Irish psyche, as an emblem of what the newly free state could be. At a time when many are exiled from their homes as a result of the migrant crisis, Hungry for Home resonates in a new way. And it is the story of a family, a set of brothers and their breathtaking journey from one way of life to another.

On Christmas Eve, 1946, a young man collapsed on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland. There was no priest, no doctor and no policeman on the Great Blasket, and no contact with the outside world. Helpless, his family watched him die.

The death of the young man was the final catalyst for the end of the island community, whose people spoke a pure form of Irish and gathered by turf fires to hear tales handed down from ancient times. Despair forced them to abandon their way of life and plead for evacuation, which finally took place in 1953. Some, like the dead man’s sister, went to live on the Irish mainland; others headed west to America.

Hungry for Home tells the story of the dramatic events that led to the Great Blasket being abandoned, including betrayal by Eamon de Valera, the man who promised the islanders to their faces that he would save them.

The exiled islanders whose culture still bore traces of the Middle Ages dared to cross the Atlantic and make a new life in the most advanced nation on earth. Cole Moreton follows their footsteps all the way, seeking out the dead man’s brothers and discovering their extraordinary, untold story.

Now this new edition will follow the last islandman, Dr Mike Carney, as he makes a final trip back to the place he loves, knowing that the effort could be too much.

We’re looking for partners to help get the story out there in Britain, Ireland and America, so if you’re interested do, please, get in touch. 





I have created a new site telling the story of the day Dr Mike Carney risked everything to return to the place of his birth, the remote Great Blasket Island, at the age of nearly 93. He was the last of his kind, the men and women who had grown up and worked on that windblown, isolated island of stories, where they spoke a form of Irish that had not been heard on the mainland for a century and still told each other the old tales by firelight every night for fun.

The day we took him back on a boat was extraordinary, and none of us were sure whether he would make it back alive. He was an inspirational man, who passed away at the weekend and is being laid to rest in Springfield, Massachusetts, tomorrow. Please find out more about the 93-year-old man who climbed out of a boat and onto an island by visiting

The Last Islandman

“I don’t know if I will be able to make it,” says Mike Carney, looking out across a wild stretch of water to the place where he was born 92 years ago. “I would like to put my feet down there one more time, but I wonder, is it possible?” Frankly, it seems crazy to try. The Great Blasket is famous throughout the world as a place where a remarkable community once lived, but it is remote, empty and inaccessible for most of the year. To get to the island, the old man will have to negotiate a wet quayside, a rubber dinghy, a sharp climb up into a converted fishing boat and an hour’s journey by sea, buffeted by the Atlantic waves. Then he will face the derelict island slipway, slick with seaweed. Yet he says: “I have the determination within me to do this.” A long-form report and film for The Telegraph.