In "Beat the Goatskin", Fitzmaurice's skilful storytelling and optimistic spirit give a charming account of Ireland, particularly rural Ireland with its customs, education, sport, literature, music and song. Growing up Irish has something of a fairy tale ring to it, but beware, this is not a gentle stroll through leprechaun land. Fitzmaurice's eye is affectionate and sympathetic, but it can be self-critical when the occasion demands. Ireland, particularly rural Ireland, speaks in this book - its writers and Wrenboys, its musicians and singers, its footballers and teachers, and its corner boys. It gives voice to pubs and parishes, their rogues, poets and playwrights. Fitzmaurice understands the heart of Ireland's culture and appreciates the way in which writers and singers like Bryan MacMahon, John B. Keane, Brendan Kennelly, Michael Hartnett and Con Greaney re-created their communities through their art.