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Jawbone Press

A Sense of Wonder

A Sense of Wonder

Long before there was a peace process in Ireland, Van Morrison unwittingly did his bit to unite a nation divided. Born in the heart of East Belfast in the North, he is revered as a Celtic soul hero in the South. His music, while rooted in jazz and blues and soul, has an Irish accent – a distinctly Protestant Irish accent.

Morrison's songs form a map of this small island – a map of places, people, and cultures, too. They evoke a long-ago Belfast at a time before it became violently divided by sectarian conflict during the Troubles. They laud literary giants James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde. They tell of the immigrant experience, the going away from the land that has long been Ireland's heartache. And they form a map of Morrison himself, revealing more than this notoriously difficult character ever would in interviews or conversations.

A Sense of Wonder is not a biography of Van Morrison. Rather, it is a journey through the Ireland depicted in his songs – a journey that begins in Hyndford Street, where we encounter the likes of John McCormack and the McPeake family, and culminates in a unique picture of an idyllic, almost mythical Ireland where spirituality trumps organized religion, and art yields a stronger legacy than politics.

Drawing on original research and interviews with a wide range of characters – from collaborators and associates of Morrison to Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and actor Liam Neeson – this is a book about the Ireland that made Morrison, and the Ireland that he has remade himself through a stunning, sprawling body of work that spans almost six decades.

Van Morrison's Ireland

272 pages

by David Burke


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