Out of the Mailbag Comes Songs & Stories: Larry Kirwan’s Rockaway Blue

Out of the Mailbag Comes Songs & Stories: Rockaway Blue, By Larry Kirwan
©2021 253 Pages. Review by John O’Brien, Jr. @Jobjr

Author, playwright, singer, songwriter, Black 47 Rocker, radio host* and journalist Larry Kirwan’s latest book, Rockaway Blue, is a pure winner.  I read it in two sittings, and wished it went on far longer. 

Real characters and real experience of how things work within the city, and the cops and fire so integral to the story of the Irish in New York is crafted and creates characters the reader will root for, even when they screw up.

Kirwan traces a fictional multi-generational safety forces families’ journey through their struggles with each other and situations beyond their control, trying to overcome great loss and heartache during and after the terrorist attack in New York on 9-11. The story touches on so many points expected from a catastrophic event, and so many of which will surprise readers and non-first responders.

Rockaway Blue is a well-told, emotional journey, marked with characters filled with good intentions, and bad actions, regrets for the past and vows for the future. We all resolve to do better; yet fear, physical, emotional, or both, can cloud, delay or derail intentions, seemingly so obvious to us outside, but reading the story.  

In many ways, it is a story of redemption; in many ways, readers will say, “stop, just tell her, it will be so worth it ….” We too often hurt the ones we love, just because we can’t get out of our own way. The brotherhood way of life plays an at times detrimental part of everyone’s actions.

Breaking out of the lethargy of great personal hurt and loss, Detective Sargent Jimmy Murphy fights to draw the love of his life, his wife, out too; he fights for his surviving younger son; widowed daughter in law, and grandson; and he fights the brass who wish the legendary Jimmy would just let the mysteries of his son’s’ death lie unresolved and undisturbed, even if the one stirring things up is the father of the dead hero. 

I’ll say no more, beyond saying, Rockaway Blue is a great read, Highly Recommended, and a Top Shelf Selection.

*Kirwin’s Celtic Crush is a SiriusXM radio show he has hosted since 2005. It airs each Sunday morning from 9am-Noon on SiriusXM Channel 710. “The Loft replays the show each Tuesday evening at 9pm.

From Wexford, Kirwan formed Black 47 with Chris Byrne in late 1989 after a jam in Paddy Reilly’s Pub in Manhattan. The band has released thirteen CDs and have performed over 2,000 shows. Kirwan has carved a legacy in Irish American culture and is especially noted for his passionate fight in his music and written word for justice and human rights. Kirwan has also written and produced eleven plays and musicals. The plays center around Irish history and politics. Five of the plays: Liverpool Fantasy; Days of Rage; Mister Parnell; Blood; and Night in the Garden, are published in the book, Mad Angels.
He also writes a weekly column for the Irish Echo.

Other Books by Larry Kirwan:
Liverpool Fantasy
Rockin’ the Bronx
Green Suede Shoes

16 Plays and musicals, including:
Hard Times
Rebel in the Soul

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