Friday, 19 October 2012

Skerret by Liam O'Flaherty

 My idea of a good time is to go rooting in boxes for cheap and unusual second hand books. 

The other day I found a small yellow paperback book by Liam O'Flaherty. It was Skerret and it was published by The Albatross Modern Continental Library (Hamburg / Paris / Bologna) in 1933. 246 pp.

An interesting aside is the historical price of the book: 1.80 RM, 12.00 FRS or 9.00 LIRE. 

The story, it begins in 1887, details the life and the times of a beleaguered incomer, the new schoolteacher Skerret; his constant battle with the avaricious and ambitious Father Moclair, and the struggles of both men to educate the superstitious half-wild islanders scraping a living on and off the rugged and almost barren island of Nara situated off the northwest coast of Ireland. 

Skerret is a proud and noble man, but also a man of brute force and misplaced idealism; a passionate individualist who refuses for example to spare the rod in his quest to educate and instruct the islanders' children. They, the next generation, will be his legacy. He has all the qualities you feel must lead to his doom. 

Skerret is, in my opinion, a brilliant psychological novel and a piece of little known history. Find it if you can. I highly recommend it.


  1. Sounds interesting Gwilym. I wonder it it is available on Amazon - it is amazing what one can find there, so I shall certainly look. Also there is a huge second hand book shop in Sedbergh which is probably a good place to look.
    Like you I like ferreting about in old books to unearth a treasure. The trouble is that my house has almost been taken over by books and I have vowed never to purchase another book case but to throw out a book for every new one I buy. And that is painful.

  2. I tend to donate one book to the local charity or school fleamarket for every one I buy. Sometimes I even end up buying a book I have previously donated!


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