Crashing an American Wake

Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2022-04-22
Publisher(s): BookBaby
List Price: $26.67

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Through the eyes of his American-born daughter, Crashing an American Wake traces the life and times of Bernard Keane from Bookalagh townland in County Galway. Bernard emigrated from Ireland to America in 1930. Regretting he didn't keep a promise to his mother, the story both imagined and factual, brings his life full circle.

Bernard born in 1908 was called Brian growing up. After he settled in the states, he was known as Barney, the Irishman.

In 1986, he had his final sending off. He was 78. Like his American Wake in Bookalagh the night before he left home, hundreds of relatives and friends came from all around.

The two wakes lean like bookends to a life of a man the author simply knew as Dad. But after several years of research and trips to Ireland, Keane discovers he was much more, he was a reflection of the 20th century as a witness and participant of major events that took place in Ireland and America - such as the 1916 Rebellion, emigration, the Great Depression, WWII and the Irish diaspora.

"I am a Keane," writes author Colleen Keane at the end of the story. "Cailin Ni' Chathain" in Irish. And on her grandmother's side of the family, a descendent of the O'Connor dynasty.

"Crashing an American Wake" is an important read for anyone interested in Irish history and finding their own Irish roots.

Author Biography

Colleen Keane is a New Mexico freelance journalist who covers social and economic issues impacting New Mexican communities. She has reported for KUNM radio, the Santa Fe Reporter, the Navajo Times and the New Mexico Street Press. Stories brought attention to domestic violence, tribal justice, homelessness, child abuse, youth suicides, health inequality and the need for fire safety in rural communities. In the last few years, she specifically reported for the Navajo Times ( covering the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, emerging artists and decolonization efforts.
In addition to being a print and radio reporter, Colleen is also a television producer/writer. Her television documentary, The River That Harms, continues to bring attention to the 1979 United Nuclear Corporation uranium tailings spill on Navajo Nation lands. It recently was shown in Albuquerque New Mexico and Window Rock, Arizona as part of the international Uranium Film Festival. She has also produced a series of television programs on child abuse interventions, tribal justice and self-sufficiency for the Navajo Nation; and a series of live forums about racism in New Mexico for KNME-TV.
In 2012, Colleen won a New Mexico Broadcast Association award for a public radio segment that brought attention to health disparities among Native American elders. Previous to this, she won state, national and international awards for her documentary, The River That Harms.
She also was a Tribal Justice Fellow for John Jay College, Center on Media, Crime and Justice and a fellow for New America Media's partnership with the Gerontological Society of America in 2013 and 2014.
From 2015 to 2020 she has won communication awards from the New Mexico Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women for her stories and photographs. She now serves as Chair for the New Mexico Press Women's Association Scholarship Program.
Colleen holds a Master's Degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Southern California and a Master's Degree in Social Work from Arizona State University.
She worked on Crashing an American Wake from 2014 to 2020 in honor of her father Bernard Keane of County Galway in Ireland,

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