For St. Patrick's Day, Eamon Loingsigh, 43, will be celebrating the release of Light of the Diddicoy. His novel introduces the reader to Liam Garrity, who at age 14 travels from Ireland to America on the eve of the 1916 Easter Rising. Garrity gets caught up with the White Hand Gang that operated along the Brooklyn waterfront. Loingsigh, whose real name is Alex Lynch, is a University of South Florida graduate who lives in St. Petersburg.
What's on your nightstand?
Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow. I first read it when I was about 21. It's a great story of New York. ... I'm also reading, for the third time, Banished Children of Eve: A Novel of Civil War New York by Peter Quinn.
Why are you reading this a third time?
It is the most important book written about the Irish experience in New York, mainly because of the way it covers the first generation of the Famine Irish. Unfortunately there was discord between the Irish working class and black slaves. The Irish felt anger because the whole country was standing up for the slaves. It's an excellent, researched story.
Can you tell me a little bit about how Light of the Diddicoy came about?
I was researching my family history. I had Irish relatives who lived in Irish Town in Brooklyn, so I became interested in the White Hand Gang. ... I'm sure you've heard of Daniel Day Lewis' movie Gangs of New York. It took place in Manhattan's Five Points slum, but I have found many people are interested in Brooklyn's Irish Town too. A difference between the neighborhoods was Irish Town had a code of silence. They never spoke to police. It was all run by thugs. Manhattan Five Points was crazy. They let their secrets out to the world.
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.