Enjoy these Irish writer-themed goodies in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day!
If I was pressed to make a list of my favourite writers, several from Dublin would make the cut. One would also fill the top spot. Guess who?
- Title: Wild Irish Women Extraordinary Lives from History
- Author: Marian Broderick
- Year Published: 2001/This Edition: 2002 (The O’Brien Press)
- Year Purchased: September 2012
- Source: My momma.
- About: Besides hailing from the fair island of Ireland (or, in some cases, having Irish parentage), all of the women profiled in this book have one thing in common: they are all dead. Just my cup of tea! I love historical ladies, whatever their professional or social province or claim to immortality, however slight. The more eccentric, the better. The 75 women included in this volume, for good or ill, do our complicated place in history justice. The stories of their often oppressive lives are stimulating, maddening, thought-provoking, and inspiring. They were artists, writers, intellectuals, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, lovers, republicans, actresses, scientists, and activists. One thing they never were, was boring. Since my curiosity about the women who smoothed my path is unapologetically insatiable, I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. It’s a wonderful tease into the fascinating subject of forgotten women. Distilling-or gutting-the essence of a life, human and flawed and fertile, into a few pages comprised of paper and ink could be, and often is, problematic. Lives aren’t edited, but history is; what is left out is as important as what remains. Take this book as a nice starting point, then go forth and learn more.
- Motivation: My love of feisty, original, gutsy women is well-known. Naturally, this book reminded my mom of me.
- Times Read: 1
- Random Excerpt/Page 49: “However, there was something that lifted the spirits of Peig (Sayers) and the other islanders on the long, dark winter nights: storytelling. This important form of entertainment was part of the old Irish oral tradition. A dail, or assembly, would meet at night in a house, and a comedy, mystery or tragedy would slowly unfold. Peig, with her pure Irish and her beautiful embellishments and turns of phrase, was an acknowledged master of the art. She kept hundreds of stories in her phenomenal memory, and she was able to memorize a story that would take a week in the telling after hearing it just once.”
- Happiness Scale: 9 1/2
It’s no secret that the Daily Diversion series features visual slices from the non-writing part of my life. Naturally, the photographs are always original Maedezs. I’m making an exception today-a magnificent exception.
My sweet, fierce, and always inspiring momma is on the first day of a five-week solo backpacking journey across Ireland and England. When she confided her vacation plans to me a year ago-a little breathless, but terribly excited-I saw her as I have always seen her, since I was a wee girl: as a passionate, committed, creative, free-spirited, positive woman. Any fearlessness I possess, is because of her. Any single-mindedness. Any ability to see beauty in the finite or the infinite or to see possibility in all things, however graceful or raw. It’s all because of her.
Her adventure starts in Dublin.
*”When I die Dublin will be written in my heart.”-James Joyce
Both photos are courtesy of my mom, Kay.
- Title: The Voluminous Life and Genius of James Joyce’s Father John Stanislaus Joyce
- Authors: John Wyse Jackson and Peter Costello
- Year Published: 1997 (St. Martin’s Press)
- Year Purchased: 2002/2003
- Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
- About: Even though they leave us more evidence of their existence than nearly any other (loosely aligned) group of people, opportunities to gain genuine insight into the lives and larger motivations of writers is exceedingly rare, and often unreliable. In according the elder Joyce a thorough and rigorous biographical treatment, the authors have given us a double-wonder: a fresh and informative look at the tender years of the singular writer of Ulysses and an introduction to his amazing father, whose remarkable storytelling ability influenced and shaped his son. Even if, like me, you come to this book because of James, you will leave with a keen appreciation and respect for the complex, colourful John Stanislaus.
- Motivation: See above. I bought it because of what James Joyce means to me. I’m glad I did, because JSJ is second to only John Butler Yeats as my favourite famous father.
- Times Read: 1
- Random Excerpt/Page 97: “Mr. and Mrs. John Stanislaus Joyce decided on a honeymoon abroad. It was another beacon to the world of John’s confident social expectations. As if to spite his mother for dragging him back from there when he was a boy, he took his bride to the capital of the Empire, London, where William Gladstone was currently busy, at the age of seventy-one, forming the Liberal government of 1880. An opportunity to meet Irish members was not to be neglected-to remind some of them the debt owed to John Stanislaus.”
- Happiness Scale: 10+++
- Title: A History of Ireland
- Author: Mike Cronin
- Year Published: 2001 (Palgrave)
- Year Purchased: 2001/2002
- Source: History Book Club
- About: A compact, well-written account of the last 900 years of Irish history.
- Motivation: I could read history tomes all day, every day. This volume is one of many I own on the Emerald Isle.
- Times Read: 1
- Random Excerpt/Page 15: “Following the favourable reaction from the Irish kings, Henry called an Irish synod together at Cashel. The synod brought the Irish Church
back into line with the greater Church and enacted reforms which addressed Papal concerns. Through his actions, Henry brought a level of peace to Ireland which had been absent for years, reformed the Church and won the approval of the majority of the different native kings.”
- Happiness Scale: 9