Guest Author - Mary Ellen Sweeney
This book was sent to me by the author, Pat Watson. I knew when I was opening the envelope that I was going to enjoy it. It took a good bit of effort for Mr. Watson to send this off to me. The stamp was Irish, the postage dear, and the envelope addressed by hand.
The cover of this volume is very familiar to me. I've seen many like it. It's glossy stock on both sides. The outside of the cover is colored green with the title and author's name in white with just a wee tinge of orange on the descenders of the type of the title. There's a trinity of photos (of towering Irish structures) that form a collage in the center of the cover. Many books similar to this one have occupied place of honor on the right-hand side at the head of our kitchen table until they had been read by everyone in the house.
The stories in this book, like the stories told by the people who sat at that table, tell about rural Ireland of the generations both past and now aging. Many of these characters and their ways are gone forever, but their stories are still among us. These stories are for the most part short and sweet but they are steeped in the character and truth of then and now, and in many of them there are layers that tell a different story according to the experiences of the reader.
Pat has done his part, recording his observations and memories nostalgic, the truths familiar and the way of telling them as Irish as the way his book will be placed at the right hand side of the head of the table. And these are variations on a theme that the table had heard before, from scores of visitors who sat over a cup of tea and told a quick tale that ended with the indrawn breath of "ayes" from the listeners, maybe between the fast-moving winter card games that start in the New Year and end firmly at Lent, when one story leads to another, and if you are a child, you count yourself lucky to be forgotten in the corner for a little while.
There's a new chapter in this book as well, one we've not read before, of this modern, prosperous Ireland that so few away seem to really understand yet. Pat's breaking it gently with the wry acceptance as old as Ireland herself.
"Original Irish Stories - 60 Lyrical Yarns" gets right down to cases with this collection of 60 lyrical Irish glories, ancient times and new, nostalgic, funny, or true...
You can get a copy for your own kitchen table directly from the author: Pat Watson, Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Ireland; tel. 090 64 92118; mobile 086 2561029; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; Pat's web site.
The best-selling To School through the Fields by Alice Walker is very similar. Both deal with a special, nostalgic view of Ireland that shimmers from through the not-so-long ago.