Lord of the RamsLord of the Rams

Lord of the Rams: Media Coverage - 18 July 2010

Read and Blog

This review of Lord of the Rams originally appeared on 18 July 2010 on the "Read and Blog" and "Review the Book" websites.

A slice of life from a young Irish rapscallion, or, how to get by with the gift of gab and no money. Ronan Smith has authored a mostly biographical story of what life was like for several school friends growing up in the rural village of Munterconnaught, Co. Cavan, Ireland in the 1980s. Hard-working at home, once school was in it was fun and games. In typical Irish colloquialism he gives a very funny accounting of this jolly group of misfits who charm and scorn their way through each level of school, each inspiring another, which rather than finally battling it out, bonds them closer than ever. No teacher is sacred, all become the focus of their warped and sometimes hilarious pranks and jokes.

There is a naming ritual the boys turned to and every one of them is renamed, Ronan being "the Rams". Rams had a way of "shortening" names by adding to them to confuse matters more. Living in a poor rural area means you make your own fun, and that is exactly what they did. Most of them were exceptionally smart though playing it down, particularly the Rams, which meant they were quite able to verbally run circles around their instructors. As probably the wittiest and the fastest thinker on his feet, the Rams was pretty much head honcho, hence the Lord of the Rams.

There was not much change in the hierarchy when the boys started college, sharing flats in Waterford and with the addition of weekend partying that eventually started on the next week almost as soon as the last week ended, the pattern was set. Find a pub or bar that hadn't tossed them out yet, party until they are tossed out, then on to the next. Flat 4A, what a home that became! I'll not spill all the joys and sorrows of these times, read the book and relish the luck of the Irish to be able to talk their way out of everything, especially the Rams. There seems no end to his vocal aspirations.

One might wonder how a whole book could be written around what appears to amount to one big drunk, but there is much more than meets the eye at first glance. This is a story of family, friendships that last a lifetime, of discovery, of life. A story of friends who will always get your back. And a story of the Irish sense of self and home, not to mention the Irish sense of humour. With a poor background, you face life on your own terms, you are tenacious, connected, and never have to apologize for who you are. You know who you are and the rest of the world will come to know who you are, too. Your town is your family as much as your birth family.

Ronan Smith has written in a lighter vein a book that will be discovered to be much deeper than it appears at first glance. A fun-loving story of growing up with all its foibles displayed. Though not my kind of reading fodder, it was consistently well-written in its rough humour including a lot of bodily humour. Quirky, realistic and true to itself. The characters are well fleshed out and begin to mature at varying rates as it should be. Probably aimed at college age. Though the story begins in childhood, this book is not for children.

Article by Betty Gelean

Read the review at Read and Blog or Review the Book.

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