Exile on Bridge Street details teenage Irish immigrant Liam Garrity’s struggle to adulthood in pre-Prohibition Brooklyn. Back home, Ireland’s fight for its own independence erupts with the 1916 Easter Rising. The fate of Garrity’s father, an Irish rebel, is unknown, which leaves his mother and two sisters vulnerable on the family farm as British troops swarm, seeking reprisals. Garrity must organize their departure to New York immediately. In Brooklyn, Garrity is adopted by Dinny Meehan, leader of a longshoremen gang based in an “Irishtown” saloon under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. Meehan vows to help Garrity and his family. But just as Ireland struggles for independence, Garrity faces great obstacles in his own coming of age on the violent Brooklyn waterfront. World War I, the Spanish Influenza, the temperance movement, the rise of Italian organized crime, police, unions and shipping and dock companies all target the Brooklyn Irish gang and threaten Garrity’s chances at bringing his family to New York. When “Wild Bill” Lovett, one of the gang’s dockbosses vies to take over, both Meehan and Garrity face a fight for survival in New York City’s brawling streets mirroring Ireland’s own fledgling independence movement.
Loingsigh will be joined by fellow IAW&A member Kathleen Donohoe, author of the recently released Ashes of Fiery Weather.