Goodbye Kit, Vincent Murphy’s imagined retelling of his grand uncle’s story is the product of meticulous research and a dedicated quest to unearth details of his ancestor Michael Kickham, whose life journey took him from Co. Tipperary to Buneos Aires via New Zealand and Australia in the latter part of the 19th century.
The joy of this book is the extraordinary treasure trove of letters and contemporaneous newspaper articles through which the voice of a young man, dead for over a century, shines through. Described in his lifetime as ‘eloquent and impressive’ Michael Kickham’s letters have an immediacy that bring history to life. Fenians, the Land League and Parnell are topics of the day even far away in New Zealand.
The very worldly challenges of income and prospects within the church are highlighted. The gradual disillusionment of ‘the good priest and staunch patriot’, disputes with Bishops, petitions to the Vatican, are all charted. From the beginning in Mullinahone right to the end in South America Vincent Murphy has relentlessly pursued his quest to piece together the story of the man behind the letters. A most interesting read.
‘I was of course all alone, mountains before, mountains behind, sometimes near the sea so that I could hear it beating on the rocks beneath’ [from a letter from Michael to his parents]