A Life in Words
Toni Morrison said; ‘If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must be the one to write it.’
My background as a child of Irish immigrants in Leicester, England, meant that I was steeped in Irish Catholicism and surrounded by my Irish uncles and aunts, my father’s siblings, who had followed him over to find work. I moved back to a tiny village in Ireland aged twenty with my brother, who is a builder, to help my mum finish renovating her old family home so she could move back home. She had been ill for some years and wanted to go home to Ireland.
I married Michael and raised my three children Years later, after Michael's job as a glass blower in Waterford Crystal came to an end we decided to move our family back to Leicester. In Australia they call this type of person ‘a boomerang.’ Can’t settle in one place. That summed me up.
All the while, I studied. English literature at A level evening class in Waterford where I fell in love with Shakespeare and poetry. Then an Open University degree in history and social sciences. I was fascinated by democracy, Empires and Colonialism and learned about the complex relationship between Ireland and Britain over hundreds of years. I developed a career in teaching, focused on inclusivity and lifelong learning.
I read lots of non-fiction about the Famine but nothing about how women and their families managed in this terrible time. So I started to write a novel. I soon realised I needed to learn the art of writing as opposed to the craft of it and when I retired I enrolled on a Masters degree in Creative Writing. I completed the first year of it and postponed the second year to write my novel.
My novel is finished and I am incredibly proud of it. I’m already working on the second novel about my women characters’ experiences of the Irish Famine. I will start the second year of the Masters in October with the Open University.
I hope one day my six beautiful grandchildren will want to read about their Irish heritage and history. These novels are for them.