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The Shadow of the Oak

The year is 1871 and ten-year-old Jake Miller and his family are eking out a living toiling for the local landlord on his farm on the outskirts of Derry. When the heartless landlord evicts them, after Jake’s brother Eamon emigrates to America and his father is injured, they have to beg on the streets of Derry to survive. But with poverty all around and winter setting in, the Millers are forced to seek succour in the Derry Workhouse, where Jake soon falls foul of the cruel Master and dormitory bullies.

All looks lost for Jake and his family but, displaying courage beyond his years, Jake decides to fight back. Will he and his little friend Davey survive the cruelty of the Workhouse staff and the beatings of the bullies? Will he and his family ever see freedom again?

Will they be re-united with Eamon? “In the Shadow of the Oak” is a story of its time – hardship, poverty and hunger – and tells, through the Millers’ ordeals, of the terrible reality of late nineteenth–century Derry, when many hundreds of families were forced to emigrate or endure the horrors of the Workhouse. It is a tale of survival, friendship and, above all, the strength of family bonds.
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