Friday, 17 March 2017

I think there's something about the Irish experience - that we had to have a sense of humor or die. —Frank McCourt

Top of the evenin’ to you!

Ireland is on my bucket list. I had hoped it would get crossed off sooner, but I have a feeling it’s worth the wait. I grew up on the island of Newfoundland, and have no doubt that the character and scenery in Ireland will rival that of the Rock. And that says a lot because I adore Newfoundland.

I have cousins in Ireland, although I’ve never met them. During a tour of England and Scotland, I was fortunate to meet my Scottish clan. They hail from Dalry, Ayrshire, and it’s through them that I know I have relatives in Ireland. I wish I had taken the time all those many moons ago, to cross over, meet them, and have a wee peek at the Emerald Isle. Unfortunately, excitement nipped at my toes and I was anxious to head off on the grand adventure of backpacking for a year throughout mainland Europe.

Perhaps that is why Mags comes from an Irish family. While I try to keep me out of my writing, it seems inevitable that aspects of my life sift down and settle on the shores of the story. Mags is American born, but her parents are Irish immigrants. They exemplify the values I associate with being Irish — hard-working, honest and grounded by family. And, let’s not forget, a solid sense of humour. It’s where Mags gets her joy of laughter.

Mags stayed with me after I finished writing Cutting to the Chase. Her laughter rang in my ears. I have written her into a place barren of that sound and am struggling to write her out of it. While the luck of the Irish may not be shining on her right now, the strength of her heritage is in her core. She won’t let me leave her there.

So cheers to you, Ireland, on your special day! And here’s to you Mags Brallen. May the world come to love you as I do!



Rough, very rough, excerpt from Mags’s story:


"Well, aren't you the lovely lass this evening?"

"Da! Whatcha been up to now?" His hair is plastered around his head and his collar is dark blue with the water stains.

"Ma was complainin' about the slow drain in the sink, so I thought I'd have a look at the pipes." He grins. "They're not slow when they're apart."

I love his laugh. It's a deep rumble that starts in his chest and finds its way out in a loud boom.

"You think it's funny do you?" Ma flicks a towel at his backside. "Sure and fine for you to be laughing when I'm the one on my hands and knees cleaning up your mess." Her smile makes a lie of her chastisement. "Oh, that dress is lovely on you."

"Why, thank you." I twirl, pleased that the dress creates a breeze. I feel like that old-time movie actress Ma loves. I can't remember her name. The platinum blonde one.

"Where you off to?" Da grabs the t-towel and starts rubbing his head. "Need a lift?"

It's too far too walk and I don't want to get all sweaty. But, I also don't want to be dropped off like a little kid going to a birthday party. It'd be embarrassing if someone saw that. "No. Thanks though. I'll just catch the bus." And get off a block or two away from the house. Not telling him that though. He'd tease me for sure.

"Call if you need one home," he says and pecks my cheek.

Ma gives me a quick hug and a kiss too. It's the way of it at the Brallen's—I can't get out of the house without a little lovin'. And, really, I wouldn't want it any other way.

"You really do look lovely, lass. Be a good girl."

"Thanks, Ma. Will do." I duck out from under her arm and head out the door, excitement and nervousness rolling together in a ball as big and bright as the sun that's still shining.



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