US author finds inspiration in his Donegal roots

Donegal generations book

A RETIRED American engineer of Donegal descent has turned family history notes collected over several decades into a gripping historical fiction.

Mr Tom Gallen (74) recently published ‘Donegal Generations,’ an entertaining piece of historical fiction that follows various family members as they describe their lives in rural Ireland during the 1700s and 1800s.

The author’s great, great grandfather, Charles Gallen along with his wife Ellen (nee Bradley), emigrated from the parish of Donaghmore, Killygordon, around 1850.


Tom grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia called Kellyville, now Clifton Heights, but now lives in Florida.

The principal locales in the book are the Finn Valley area of east Donegal as well as Aghyaran and the Derg Valley in County Tyrone, and Derry City where his ancestors emigrated from.

Inspired by his own genealogical research, Mr Gallen decided to use this new-found information to craft a story about how his ancestors lived before and during the Great Famine.

Using the history of the locales in the novel, he incorporated his findings into Ireland’s rich history to create a truly fulfilling and entertaining work of historical fiction.

“I was writing something for my grandchildren and their children in order to expose them to their Irish background,” he explained.

Tom says he has been unable to pinpoint the townland in Killygordon where his ancestors came from. However, he believes it may be in an area above Crossroads village known locally as ‘The Glen’, where much of the novel is based.

Using the personal perspective of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in a present tense and first-person style, Donegal Generations is an approachable and mesmerising work of fiction that will stay with readers long after they’ve finished the final page.


The book is now available for around €15 (£12.50) from and in Europe it can be purchased from Amazon UK.

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