Books and Brews: A Trip to Ireland

One thing I guess I don't mention much is that my children are all half-Irish, as in their dad comes straight from Rush, Co. Dublin. 

They say write what you know, and when I wrote about Amy giving birth in a foreign country, this is something I know.  It is quite an experience to be 20 years old, having your first child across an ocean from your home.  My oldest son was born at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin--delivering babies since 1745.  (One of three maternity hospitals in Dublin, by the way.) 

It was very different from having a baby in the United States.  Apparently my fame preceded me, as every time I spoke, a nurse would say (in their very wonderful Irish brogue which I wish I could capture here!), "Oh, you're the American!  Were you on holiday?"

We drove home from the hospital three days later with my father-in-law through small, winding, cobble-stone streets in very old towns.  At one point, a car blocked the street that didn't deserve to be called two lane (yes, that phrase in The Minstrel Boy is also based on heart-stopping, gasping personal knowledge!)  The owner had gotten out of his car to go chat with some friends in a pub!  So my father-in-law simply got out of his car, opened the other and started pushing it out of the way!  The owner came screaming out of the pub, shouting and yelling, What are you doin' to me car! 

And there I was in the back seat holding a three day old baby, wondering how far this was going to go!  [Yes, holding him.  Car seats weren't really deemed important that year in Ireland.]

My children have a funny family connection to the Easter Rising of 1916 and its aftershocks.  Their father's paternal grandfather was a young member of the IRA--which their father will tell you was a very different organization in 1916 than it was in the 70s and 80s.  And so, on May 25, 1921, my children's great-grandfather (their father's paternal grandfather) marched with his brigade on the Customs House.  Shooting and burning commenced.

It so happened that their father's maternal grandmother was, at the same time, inside the Customs House getting a copy of a document--wearing a very fine red hat!  As the shooting and flames erupted, began, people ran from the post office, her clutching her very fine new hat to her head!  There was much consternation from those around her, pointing out that it made a fantastic target!

The sad end to this story is that it was actually a British officer who shouted at her to take the hat off--moments before he was hit.

She, however survived, and in one of the ironic twists of life, her daughter would grow up to marry the son of one of the men shooting at the crowd that day.  And this son and daughter eventually became the grandparents to my children.

Above, I gave the Sinead O'Connor/Chieftains version of The Foggy Dew, which is about the Easter Rising.  Here is my flute rendition, played on the shore of the very Great North Sea the song mentions.  I bow to Sinead and the Chieftains, but I had fun doing this!

War, rebellions, uprisings, and battles have long been potent fodder for bards, poets, and writers.  The Easter Rising, in fact, the whole of the Irish Wars of Independence, is no different.  On Saturday, we'll be talking about a couple of those.  Hope to see you there!  Well--actually, that would be very awkward as the studio is small.  But I hope you'll tune in and listen and maybe give us a call!

  • March 20-24, 2017: Indie-Con, an online convention of indie authors in which I'll be participating with guest blogs, Q&A, and critiquing.

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