Welcome to the Village of Ballybucklebo. Come and say hello to Dr. O'Reilly's odd-as-two-left feet patients, his housekeeper, Mrs. "Kinky" Kinkaid, and O'Reilly's pets, Arthur Guinness, the beer-swilling black Lab and Lady MacBeth, the demonically possessed white cat. And of course, to young Dr. Barry Laverty. After Barry's first month as an assistant to crusty Dr. O'Reilly, he has been offered a permanent spot. But Laverty's excitement is dashed when one of his patients unexpectedly dies. The damage to his reputation is enormous, and he and O'Reilly must work to resolve the question of Barry's responsibility for the death. They also have to figure out how to save the four-hundred-year-old village pub. Plans are afoot to not renew the hundred-year lease and instead transform the old pub into a sparkling new tourist trap. To make matters even worse, Patricia Spence, the love of Barry's life, announces she is trying to win a scholarship to distant Cambridge University, all the way in England.... Beautifully evocative of a gentler, simpler time, Patrick Taylor's An Irish Country Village magically captures the charm, wit, and ribald humor of a vanished Irish countryside and its people.
About the Author
Patrick Taylor, M.D., was born and raised in Bangor County Down in Northern Ireland. After qualifying as a specialist in 1969, Dr. Taylor worked in Canada for thirty-one years. He now divides his time between Canada and Ireland.
John Keating's numerous acting credits include Roundabout Theatre's production of Juno and the Paycock and La Mama ETC's production of Cat and the Moon, as well as various parts with the Irish Repertory Theater and the Irish Arts Center. He is a regular performer with the Independent Shakespeare Company and can also be seen in the HBO original mini-series John Adams, starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. John's audiobook narrations have earned Earphone Awards and an Audie nomination. Most notably, he's read Eoin Colfer's Airman, Avi's The Traitors' Gate, and Jenny Nimmo's The Snow Spider. He also lent his voice to many of Patrick Taylor's Irish Country audiobooks.
Read an Excerpt
An Irish Country Village
By Patrick Taylor
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2008 Patrick Taylor
All rights reserved.
This Bodes Some Strange Eruption to Our State
Barry Laverty — Doctor Barry Laverty — heard the clattering of a frying pan on a stove and smelled bacon frying. Mrs. "Kinky" Kincaid, Doctor O'Reilly's housekeeper, had breakfast on, and Barry realized he was ravenous.
Feet thumped down the stairs, and a deep voice said, "Morning, Kinky."
"Morning yourself, Doctor dear."
"Young Laverty up yet?" Despite the fact that half the village of Ballybucklebo, County Down, Northern Ireland, had been partying in his back garden for much of the night, Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, Laverty's senior colleague, was up and doing.
"I heard him moving about, so."
Barry's head was a little woozy, but he smiled as he left his small attic bedroom. He found the Cork woman's habit of tacking "so" to the ends of most of her sentences endearing and less grating than the "so it is" or "so I will" added for emphasis by the folks from his native province of Ulster.
In the bathroom he washed the sleep from his blue eyes, which in the shaving mirror blinked at him from an oval face under fair hair, a cowlick sticking up from the crown.
He finished dressing and went downstairs to the dining room, passing as he did the ground-floor parlour that Doctor O'Reilly used as his surgery, which Barry knew an American doctor would have called his "office." He hoped to be spending a lot of time here in the future. He paused to glimpse inside the by now familiar room.
"Don't stand there with both legs the same length," O'Reilly growled from the dining room opposite. "Come on in and let Kinky feed us."
"Coming." Barry went into the dining room, blinking at the August sunlight streaming in through the bay windows.
"Morning, Barry." O'Reilly, wearing a collarless striped shirt and red braces to hold up his tweed trousers, sat at the head of a large mahogany table, a teacup held in one big hand.
"Morning, Fingal." Barry sat and poured himself a cup. "Grand day."
"I could agree," said O'Reilly, "if I didn't have a bit of a strong weakness." He yawned and massaged one temple, his bushy eyebrows moving closer as he spoke. Barry could see tiny veins in the whites of O'Reilly's brown eyes. The big man's craggy face with its cauliflower ears and listing-to-port nose broke into a grin. "When I was in the navy it's what we used to call 'a self-inflicted injury.' It was quite the ta-ta-ta-ra yesterday."
Barry laughed and wondered how many pints of Guinness his mentor had sunk the previous night. Ordinarily drink would have as much effect on O'Reilly as a teaspoon of water on a forest fire. Barry still wasn't sure if the man's magnanimous offer, made in the middle of what had seemed to be the hooley to end all hooleys, had been the Guinness talking or whether O'Reilly was serious. When he'd first woken he'd thought he might've dreamed the whole thing, but now he clearly remembered that he'd vowed before laying his head on the pillow to muster the courage this morning to ask O'Reilly if he had meant it.
He knew he could let the hare sit, wait for O'Reilly to repeat the offer under more professional circumstances, but damn it all, this was important. Barry glanced down at the table, then back straight into O'Reilly's eyes. "Fingal," he said putting down his cup.
"You were serious, weren't you, about offering me a full-time assistantship for one year and then a partnership in your practice?"
O'Reilly's cup stopped halfway to his lips. His hairline moved lower and rumpled the skin of his forehead. Pallor appeared at the tip of his bent nose.
Barry involuntarily turned one shoulder towards the big man, as a pistol duellist of old might have done in order to present his enemy with a smaller target. The pale nose was a sure sign that fires smouldering beneath O'Reilly's crust were about to break through the surface.
"Was I what?" O'Reilly slammed his cup into his saucer. "Was I what?"
Barry swallowed. "I only meant —"
"Holy thundering mother of Jesus Christ Almighty I know what you meant. Why the hell would you think I wasn't serious?"
"Well ..." Barry struggled desperately to find diplomatic words. "You ... that is, we ... we'd had a fair bit to drink."
O'Reilly pushed his chair away from the table, cocked his head to one side, stared at Barry — and began to laugh, great throaty rumbles.
Barry looked expectantly into O'Reilly's face. His nose tip had returned to its usually florid state. The laugh lines at the corners of the big man's eyes had deepened.
"Yes, Doctor Barry Laverty, I was serious. Of course I was bloody well serious. I'd like you to stay."
"Don't thank me. Thank yourself. I'd not have made you the offer if I didn't think you were fitting in here in Ballybucklebo, and if the customers hadn't taken a shine to you."
"You just keep it up. You hear me?"
O'Reilly stood and started to walk round the table until he stood over Barry. O'Reilly stretched out his right hand. "If we were a couple of horse traders we'd spit on our hands before we sealed the contract, but I think maybe a couple of GPs should forgo that in favour of a simple handshake."
Barry rose and accepted O'Reilly's clasp, relieved to find it wasn't the man's usual knuckle-crushing version of a handshake. "Thanks, Fingal," he said. "Thanks a lot and I will try to —" "I'm sure you will," said O'Reilly, releasing Barry's hand, "but all this serious conversation has me famished, and I'm like a bull with a headache until I get my breakfast. Where the hell's Kinky?" He turned and started to amble back to his chair.
Barry heard a loud rumbling from O'Reilly's stomach. He did not say, "Excuse me." Barry had learned that the man never apologized; indeed his confession of being short-tempered in the morning was the closest Barry knew O'Reilly would get to expressing regret for having roared at Barry moments earlier. The man rarely explained himself and seemed to live entirely by his own set of rules, the first being "Never, never,never let the patients get the upper hand."
Barry heard a noise behind him and turned to see Mrs. Kincaid standing in the doorway. He hadn't heard her coming. For a woman of her size she was light on her feet.
"You're ready now for your breakfast, are you, Doctors?" she said, moving into the room, setting a tray on the sideboard, lifting plates, and putting one before O'Reilly and one in front of Barry. "I didn't want to interrupt. I know you're discussing important things, so." Her eyes twinkled and she winked at Barry. "But you get carried away sometimes, don't you, Doctor O'Reilly dear? I hear that kind of thing is very bad for the blood pressure."
"Get away with you, Kinky." O'Reilly was grinning at her, but with the kind of look a small boy might give his mother when he knew he'd been caught out in some peccadillo.
Barry turned his attention to his breakfast. On his plate two rashers of Belfast bacon kept an orange-yolked egg company. Half a fried tomato perched on a crisp triangle of soda farl. A pork sausage, two rings of black pudding, and one of white topped off the repast. He felt himself salivate as the steam rising from the platter tickled his nostrils. If professional reasons weren't enough to keep him here, Mrs. Kincaid's cooking certainly tipped the scales. "Thanks, Kinky," he said. "When I get through this, I'll be ready to go and call the cows home."
He saw her smile. "Eat up however little much is in it, and leave the cows to the farmers, so." She turned to go, her silver chignon catching the sun's rays as they slipped through the room's bay window to sparkle in her hair and plant diamonds in the cut-glass decanters on the sideboard.
"Thanks, Kinky," said O'Reilly, tucking a linen napkin into his shirt-neck. He waved his fork. "Begod I could eat a horse, a bloody Clydesdale, saddle and all." He shoved most of one rasher into his mouth.
Barry swallowed a small piece of tomato.
O'Reilly speared a piece of black pudding and chewed with what appeared to be the enthusiasm of a famished crocodile feeding on a fat springbok. "I can't face the day without my breakfast. Once I get this into me, I'll be a new man."
As Barry sliced his bacon he heard the front doorbell, Kinky's footsteps, and a man's voice. Kinky reappeared in the dining room. "It's Archibald Auchinleck, the milkman."
"On a Sunday morning?" O'Reilly growled through a mouthful of soda farl.
"He says he's sorry, but —"
"All right," O'Reilly growled, ripping the napkin from his throat. "Between you making breakfast late with your questions and the patients interrupting it," he said, eyeing Barry, "I'll die of starvation." He stood and walked down past the table. Mrs. Kincaid moved up the other side. The pair of them look like partners in a slip jig, Barry thought.
"I'll pop this back in the oven. Keep it warm, so." She lifted O'Reilly's plate.
Barry nodded and returned to his meal. Suddenly a roar shattered the morning.
"Do you know what bloody day it is, Archibald Auchinleck, you pathetic, primitive, primate? Do you?" O'Reilly's shout made Barry's teacup rattle. "Answer me, you pitiful, pinheaded parasite."
Barry was glad he wasn't on the receiving end. He strained but couldn't hear the milkman's reply.
A line echoed in Barry's head. Never, never, never let the patients ...
"Sunday. Well done. Pure genius. You should get a Nobel Prize for knowing that. Not Monday. Not Friday. Sunday. Now I know what it means in the good book, in Genesis chapter one, verse twenty-five, that on the fifth day God made "every thing that creepeth upon the earth. Relatives of yours, no doubt, Archibald Auchinleck. But what ... what does it say in chapter two, verse two, about the seventh day? Tell me that."
Muted mumbling came from across the hall.
O'Reilly continued his rant. "It says, and please correct me if I'm wrong, 'And on the seventh day God ended his work ... and He rested.' And what did he do?" Barry could just make out the reply: "And he rested, sir."
Never, never, never let the patients
Barry could hear O'Reilly resuming his diatribe. "Yes, he rested. He bloody well rested. Now tell me, Archibald Auchinleck, if the Good Lord could put his feet up on the Sabbath, why in the hell can't I? What in the name of Jesus H. Christ possessed you to come to annoy me today, Sunday, with a simple backache you've had for bloody weeks?"
... get the upper hand. It might be O'Reilly's first law of practice, Barry thought, grinning widely, but the corollary, the first law to be obeyed by O'Reilly's patients, was "Pokest thou not a rabid bull mastiff in the eye with a blunt stick."
O'Reilly's voice dropped in volume and seemed more placatory. "All right, Archie. All right. Enough said. I know you only get Sundays off from your milk round. It's probably all the stooping and bending to deliver the bottles that's giving you gyp, and having a boy in the British army must be a worry. Tell me about your back, and I'll see what I can do for you."
Barry mopped up some egg yolk with a piece of soda farl. That was O'Reilly in a nutshell, he thought. A temper and a tendency to erupt like a grumbling volcano, wedded to an encyclopaedic knowledge of his patients and a sense of obligation to them that made the oath of Hippocrates sound as trite as a Christmas-cracker motto.
Barry pushed his plate away, stood, and looked out through the bow window. It was a beautiful day, and as O'Reilly had said he could have today off, he was free from any responsibility to the practice.
He intended to enjoy his freedom to the full. Tomorrow would mark the start of his assistantship to Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly.CHAPTER 2
Full Many a Glorious Morning Have I Seen
A grumbling O'Reilly was back in the dining room finishing his reheated breakfast. Archibald Auchinleck, milkman by trade, had left clutching a prescription, still full of profuse apologies for having disturbed the great man on the Sabbath.
Kinky adjusted her Sunday-best hat in front of the hall mirror before leaving to attend morning service in the Presbyterian church across the road from O'Reilly's house. "It'll be grand with the new minister. I heard his sermon last week, and you could feel the spits of him six pews back."
"Maybe you should take your umbrella for a bit of waterproofing?"
"Go on with you, Doctor Laverty. Wouldn't I look the right eejit in church with a brolly?" Kinky giggled.
The image conjured up made Barry chuckle. "Enjoy yourself, Kinky," he said. "You deserve a little entertainment after cooking such a champion breakfast as that." Sitting through an interminable sermon dodging spittle was not his idea of a cheerful way to spend a glorious Sunday morning.
"Entertainment, is it?" said Kinky, drawing herself up as if to engage him in combat, but then she sighed. "You young people. You think everything should be like those Beatles nowadays. Sometimes I think they must believe they're more popular than Jesus himself. It's a disgrace, so."
Kinky readjusted her hat and swept out the door.
"You're right, Kinky," Barry called after her, hoping he hadn't offended her. He was sure he hadn't. Any woman who could stay on as housekeeper with Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly since shortly after the Second World War would be hard to offend. Nevertheless, a wise man would do well to keep her on his side. He'd think of a way to make it up to her, just in case.
But not now. He had other plans.
He'd not be spending the day exactly as he'd hoped, but as O'Reilly was fond of telling patients, "What can't be cured must be endured." Barry wondered if Fingal knew the quote came from Robert Burton, a morose English vicar who'd penned a seventeenth-century book with the priceless title of The Anatomy of Melancholy. He probably did. Not much got past O'Reilly.
Barry had other plans, but they didn't include Patricia Spence, the shining girl he'd met by chance last month on a train journey to Belfast. The twenty-one-year-old civil engineering student who had burst into his cosmos as brightly as a supernova. The young woman who was so committed to her studies she'd told him ten days ago she wasn't ready to fall in love. He hadn't seen her since then, but yesterday afternoon she'd miraculously shown up unannounced at the Galvins' going-away party. She'd cooked him dinner last night in her flat. He could still remember the taste of their good-night kisses. And the taste of the lasagna. For an engineer, she wasn't a bad cook at all.
But today Patricia was off visiting her parents in Newry, about forty miles south of Belfast. She had promised to phone him soon. He'd have to lie content with that promise, although he was aching to tell her about his prospects here in Ballybucklebo.
It was a beautiful day, he thought, so why not get out and enjoy it? He hadn't had time for a walk in weeks, and the exercise would do him good.
He stuck his head into the dining room. "I'm nipping out for a while, Fingal."
"Nipping out. You said ... you said yesterday I could have today off."
"Jesus. Half an hour ago you said you knew you'd have to satisfy me that you were worth taking on as a partner. The practice isn't a Butlins Holiday Camp."
Barry muttered to himself, "The way you're going on today, O'Reilly, it's sounding more like a forced labour camp."
"Nothing." Barry took a deep breath. "Do you not want me to go?"
He saw O'Reilly shake his head. "It's all right. I didn't mean to spoil your day off. I was just thinking about Archie Auchinleck."
"With the sore back?"
"That's what he says."
Barry stepped through the doorway, interested in spite of himself. "Do you think he's swinging the lead?"
O'Reilly shook his big head. "Not Archie. He's not missed a day on his milk round for God knows how many years."
"Then what is it?"
"His boy." O'Reilly looked up from the plate. "He's only got the one, and he joined the British army."
Barry remembered seeing something on television about some British troops with a United Nations peacekeeping force. "He's not in Cyprus, is he?"
O'Reilly nodded. "'Fraid so. And the Turks or the Greeks or some other silly buggers have been shooting at them. Poor old Archie's worried sick." O'Reilly rose. "I shouldn't have yelled at him. There's not a bloody thing us doctors can do until his boy gets back home. It's frustrating as hell."
And, Barry thought, you get angry when you get frustrated, don't you, Fingal?
"Go on with you then. Make the most of your time. Pity it's a Sunday."
"Any other day you could get a haircut."
"But I don't need one."
"You will soon. I'll be working you so hard from now on you're not going to have time."
Barry saw the laugh lines deepen at the corners of O'Reilly's eyes and knew it was a hollow threat, although if the patients kept coming the way they had in the last month there would be plenty of work to do — and he was looking forward to it. "Sure when it's down over my collar you can tell the customers I'm trying to get a job with the Beatles."
Excerpted from An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor. Copyright © 2008 Patrick Taylor. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
These stories are thoroughly enjoyable. What a gift for an author to be able to create characters we wish to know and follow and places into which our hearts move. I was sorry to read in some of his notes that places like Ballybucklebo no longer exist except in memory and fiction. If they did, certainly, they'd become a tourist's destination. I've been a fan of Maeve Binchy and Patricia Cornwell, but I don't think I've read a series from which the characters and places have stayed in my mind like these do since reading James Herriot's series decades ago. His are still there, and Taylor's are becoming their friends. I do wish publishing companies would become the reader's friend and either include ordinal numbers or copyright dates by the titles listed in the opening pages under "other books by...." when publishing a series by an author. Since getting hooked on this one, I've read at least one out of order, and it is always disheartening to know the future before it unfolds, if even a little bit.
I loved this book as much as the first and also could not put it down, often reading till late into the night. I would also laugh out loud at certain passages. Especially those that reminded me of long dead relatives or medical type people I had run into in my own life. I grew up in a very small community so that part of it appealed to me too. The eccentricities of the locals. I think anyone would enjoy reading this book very much and consider it a great investment in fun.
I thoroughly enjoyed Patrick Taylor's first book- An Irish Country Doctor and am still enjoying this next one. I'm looking forward to reading both of the other books in this series.
I loved the book and it is an easy read. But once you pick it up, it is hard to put it down. You just can't wait to see what happens to whom next. The writing enables you to actually see the countryside, the houses, etc. It is a keeper!
I found this book a pleasure to read..It takes place in Ulster (Northern Ireland), in the 60's. Dr. Barry Laverty, fresh out of medical school , comes to Ballybucklebo and joins the country practice of Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. Many chuckles abound as Dr. Laverty adjusts to the larger than life Dr. O'Reilly and the many characters who live in Ballybucklebo and come to them for medical assistance. Great read.
This was a nice trip to the old sod. I would reccommend it for some one who needs a gentle change of pace. I will difinately read his books again. i think this would make for a good book club read. I t deals with the human condition.
Actually a series of three books: An Irish Country Doctor, An Irish Country Village, An Irish Country Christmas. Enjoyed reading all three. Became interested after traveling through Ireland and Northern Ireland, but not necessary to enjoy.
Patrick Taylor engages you in Ireland in the early 60's and you feel you're really there. I laugh, I cry, I thoroughly enjoyed this series of stories. I hope there is more coming!!!
The Irish have such a rich oral tradition. The pace, the language, you feel it in Patrick Taylor's writing. You are in an Irish country village. Taking everyday events and holding your attention is a true talent.
This book and the series are wonderfully written. The characters are interesting and intriguing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone.
The entire series of books by this author is excellent. Patrick Taylor is very accomplished as a writer. His character development and story line are remarkable. When I finish one of his books I'm actually sad that is over. I have and would recommend any of his books.
Drs. O'Reilly and Laverty are still hard at work healing their sick Ballelybucklebo neighbors. Along with saving the life of a spontaneous aborting mother, Barry wrestles with decisions past and present. His budding love for the feminist Patricia also is tried. Donal emerges as the town saint when he brings everyone together to fix Sonny's roof. The problems are all happily resolved in the end in this feel good novel. Looking forward to the next installment.
Take a trip to Ireland without a passport. No need to pack your bags. Just curl up with this book and enjoy. You will love the characters, especially Doctors O'Reilly and Laverty the housekeeper, Kinky. The Irish wit is so refreshing. However, I recommend reading the Irish Country Village first to get you started on your journey.
Patrick Taylor takes us on a magic carpet ride into a world of an imaginary doctor learning to cope with very unusual (but not unimaginable) folks in the Irish countryside. Great fun to read and relax with. Definitely an author to follow when you'd like a break from the cast type of "top sellers" who follow the same reliable pattern in their books.
I have read the first two of Patrick Taylor's novels. they are so charming and so funny. It is like peaking in on a village and seeing what is going on there. Each novel continues on with the storyline of 2 doctors and their general practice. i have the Christmas book to read and i can tell it is continuing on from An Irish Country Village. I would recommend starting your series with the first one, An Irish Country Doctor. ENJOY.
A charming book - brings to mind the gentle, non-judgmental tales in the "All Creatures Great and Small" series of books. The author brings you into the life of a village doctor with all the attendant characters and their problems. The characters reminded me of people I have known with all their idiosyncrasies. It is interesting to follow the acceptance of the young doctor by the village people and to get an idea of what it might have been like to try to practice an imperfect science during a time when healing depended as much on the practitioner as upon the science. On the whole, great reading without being sugary sweet, definitely an easy read without gratuitous violence and profane language.
Truly enjoyed reading "An Irish Country Village" I felt like I actually lived there and personally knew the characters. Have also read "An Irish Country Doctor" and "An Irish Country Christmas". Am looking forward to reading "An Irish Country Girl".
Recommend also reading first An Irish Country Doctor, then Irish Country Village followed by an Irish Country Christmas -- the three books cover about a year in the life of Doctors O'Reilly and Laverty and made for the most enjoyable evenings of reading -- filled with laughter and love for the most unique bunch of characters one could hope to meet.
If you've got Irish blood in you, or just appreciate the Irish people, you'll love this tale of life in a small Irish village.
Another fun group of happenings in the fictional village of Ballybuckledo, Northern Island. Dr. Laverty, Patricia Spense, and Kinky Kincaid all work with the larger than life Dr. Fingle Flaherty O'Reilly to make life better for all residents.
The first book was perfectly inoffensive - light and sort of amusing, but it's all just a bit too insubstantial for me. It reads very much like something that was always intended to be made into a PBS mini-series.
Falling into the class of ¿Comfort Reads¿, An Irish Country Village picks up where the first volume left off. We follow the adventures of young Dr. Barry Laverty as he joins the practice of the older, gruff, heart-of-gold, Dr. Fingal Flahertie O¿Reilly. Trying to fit into the small rural village of Ballybuckbo isn¿t easily done as everything the young doctor does comes under scrutiny. A huge cast of characters with assorted ailments or problems drift in and out of the doctor¿s waiting room and the two doctors analyse, console and/or treat as the condition demands.Humorous, light, entertaining reading with a touch of the Irish blarney. A great book to curl up with on a cold winter¿s day.
Newly qualified doctor Barry Laverty had a successful month working under Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly in the Northern Irish village of Ballybucklebo. O'Reilly seems to be ready to offer Dr. Laverty a permanent position in his small practice. However, repercussions from a case gone wrong may damage Dr. Laverty's reputation in the village beyond repair. The results of a postmortem will either condemn or exonerate him. Meanwhile, Dr. Laverty's interest in Patricia continues to grow, but there's a problem. Patricia's got her heart set on winning a scholarship to Cambridge, far away from tiny Ballybucklebo.This book picks up right where the first book ended. In fact, the action starts on the morning after the last scene in the first book. Several of the patient visits are follow-ups to visits in the previous book. It had been a couple of years since I read the first book, and I wish I hadn't waited so long to read the second one. I had forgotten some of the details that it would helped to have had fresh in my memory. This series is a good choice for readers looking for nostalgic comfort. To get the most out of it, the books need to be read in order and fairly close together.
Feel good story that will make you laugh out loud. Brilliantly done.
I love this simple yet well written novel