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Real Lace Revisited: USA’s Irish Aristocracy

Books

Real Lace Revisited: Inside the Hidden World of America’s Irish Aristocracy (Lyons Press, March 2017, 978-1-4930-2490-2, Cloth, $24.95) revisits Stephen Birmingham's much-loved Real Lace, creating his own entertaining portrait of life among the Irish Rich, further detailing and filling out this engrossing portion of America's social history..

Here are some intriguing details uncovered in the book:
·         The Real First Irish Family was not the Murrays or McDonnells but the Carrolls, who arrived in Maryland in 1687

·         Birmingham only mentioned the Kennedys to exclude them for their arriviste bad manners and ethics, but in this book they are treated fully for their virtues as well as their vices, and especially their long record of public service.

·         People forget the intensity of prejudice and bigotry the Irish in America suffered at the hands of Know Nothings, Nativists, the KK and others all the way up to and including Al Smith’s run for president as the first Irish Catholic candidate for the office in 1928.

·         The geographical expansion of the Irish throughout the US, not just in the Northeast

·         The surprising large number of new Irish-American fortunes that have been made in the last fifty years, even as some families faded.

·         The decline of religion, especially after the priestly sex abuse scandals, but now signs of new beginnings in a new century, and the resilience of Faith among Irish-Americans, who remain at their core a remarkably spiritual people.

More information is below. Please let me know if you’d like a review copy, or any further details. Thank you, as always, for your kind consideration.


The Globe Pequot Spring catalog: Spring 2017

“In Real Lace Revisited James MacGuire does for American Irish Catholics what Evelyn Waugh did for those eccentric English recusants at Brideshead: with wit, insight, and critically engaging affection he brings several generations to a life beyond life. But this account, soaring from Birmingham's springboard, has the added authority of a true insider who grew up with the very families he chronicles--from the McDonnells and Murrays to the Kennedys and Buckleys. His personal appraisal rings as pitch-perfect as a Louis Auchincloss novel of WASP society. Birmingham must be beaming from Paradise as he shines here by reflected glory. As Scott Fitzgerald best put it: 'If it wasn't life, it was magnificent'." --Charles Scribner III

"An invaluable and absorbing chronicle filled with rare, elegant historical scholarship....
Whether coursing through the fortunes and misfortunes of the Kennedy and Buckley families; celebrating the horseracing, hellraising and hilarity of Saratoga Springs; reminiscing about his own and others’ days at Portsmouth Priory and the “Grottlesex” schools; pubcrawling in storied New York taverns; or brooding about the sexual abuse scandals and the plight of the Catholic Church in America, MacGuire is an attentive, shrewd, and incomparably entertaining companion for anyone who wishes to tour Irish America’s most curious precincts."--Michael O. Garvey, author of Confessions of a Catholic Worker”

Real Lace Revisited chronicles the religious, financial and social evolution of the First Irish Families’ world, its rise, peak, decline, fall, and, in some cases, transformative rebirth. Rather than a memoir, however, the book reads as an informed historical, non-fiction account of the upper-class Irish world as it grew and changed. Real Lace Revisited is always accessible and highly readable, enlivened by MacGuire’s gift for storytelling, encyclopedic knowledge, and often humorous insight into the families concerned.

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