Late Career

MacGill later moved to Florida and continued writing for a few more years, producing books such as The House at the Worlds End (1935) and his last novel Helen Spenser (1937). In The House at the World's End, set some time after World War I, MacGill uses Irish mythology to describe the poverty striken Gallagher family, who are fed by the fairies (a neighbouring woman in reality). This Gaelic cultural background, far from his earlier cynicism, was an integral part of the author's childhood. Similarly, Helen Spenser, describes the experiences of a young Donegal girl, covering the period from 1915 to 1920. It is suggested that in this book, MacGill makes an attempt to come to terms with the changing Ireland. MacGill was to spend the remainder of his life in the USA, and never returned to Ireland.

Ill health led him to be silent for many years as an author, and in 1963 Patrick MacGill died. He is buried in the Notre Dame Cemetery, Fall River, Massachusetts. Relevant to contemporary Ireland, MacGill's work is described as "mysteriously engaging"(14) and through it he gave a voice to the exploited rural workers, particularly those from the Western fringe of the North of Ireland. With his fiction being well bedded in fact, MacGill "brought a cold realism to the Irish literary scene"(15).

Described as 'Champion of the Underdog'(16), MacGill's books display a nostalgic love of Donegal and are significant in considering the Ulster Irish novel. His "Songs of Donegal" poetry collection opens with a dedication to the people of his birthplace:-

I speak with a proud tongue of the people who were

And the people who are,

The worthy of Ardara, the Rosses and Inishkeel,

My kindred-

The people of the hills and the dark-haired passes

My neighbours on the lift of the brae,

In the lap of the valley.

To them, slainte.

Patrick's two daughters, Christine and Patricia are today still living in the USA. A niece, Mary Clare O'Donnell, still lives in Glenties, and is involved in the establishment and running of the MacGill Summer School there. His nephew Billy MacGill lives in Cork.

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