Vincent Murphy’s book is a triumph of thorough research, a compelling human story, a vibrant picture of life on three continents and a disturbing account of the impact of clerical politics on a good man and his family. Murphy has created an intelligent and sympathetic account of the life of Michael Kickham who grew up in Ireland, preached in New Zealand and died in South America. His life was defined by his family connection to the Irish patriot Charles Kickham and his priestly disputes with his bishop in New Zealand.
Using a skilful blend of sources and intuition, Murphy brings Kickham to life as a principled young man who devotes his life to God, falls foul of clerical politics in a faraway land and becomes isolated from family and friends. Kickham struggles with the fallout from the long-running dispute with an unreasonable bishop and Murphy’s account of his mental challenges lets us understand why he may have chosen to re-invent himself in Argentina. Unfortunately the price of this re-invention is estrangement from his family in Ireland.
The story spans three continents, as did Murphy’s research which is thorough and well-documented. The author’s notes on the research and the writing of the book are themselves very interesting, and the narrative construction and style is all the more credible when you realise that Murphy is a member of the Kickham clan.
Entertaining, educational and insightful, Goodbye Kit is a great read.