Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan, Ireland, 2021

Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan, Ireland, 2021

Bill Furlong sells logs, turf, coal and anthracite. He lives somewhere near Waterford, is married and has five daughters. His mother was a single mother, taken in by a kindly Protestant woman without whom both she and the baby would doubtlessly have ended up in a workhouse, or worse. Now in his forties he is given a chance to repay the debt.

It is coming up to Christmas. With the everyday religious activities and beliefs of the small village forming a background, Keegan puts Bill front and centre as he copes with all the small things that make up his life: his family, his work, his memories. Then, when delivering coal to the convent, he is faced with a moral dilemma that he knows he has to solve, one way or the other. Should he put his relatively secure life and the relatively positive prospects of his daughters at risk, or should he do what he intuitively knows he should do?

Claire Keegan – The Guardian

Mixing together small everyday things with religious practice, the atrocities of the Magdalen laundries and the control (nearly always subtle) of the Church, Keegan has produced a beautiful, yet sad, picture of a good man who wants to believe that everyone is basically honourable.

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