In My Mind’s Eye: Walking among the ghosts by Brigid Kavanagh;
stories and poems compiled and edited by Sean and Declan Kavanagh (â¬ 12.00) available online at www.buythebook.ie, or by contacting [email protected]
This 300-plus-page book is an anthology and tribute to the writing of Brigid Kavanagh, 95, who draws on her in-depth observations of life in Strokestown, where she was born and raised; in London, where she served as a nurse during WWII, and in Dublin, where she raised her family.
She also makes many interesting comments, including the following: âSociety is generally critical of the 1950s, but I am more for than against because I lived that period in Dublin.
I gave a silent cheer when I read this. Growing up in Dublin around this time, I have only happy memories, and I find that many of the reviews are product of the 1960s, 1970s or even later, most keen to portray the 1950s as a regressive priest. era mounted. Brigid’s essay “Dublin in the 1950s” is a must read for the re-education of critics.
Brigid also introduces us to the significance of Rathcroghan in the parish of Tulsk, where she was born. Apparently, this hill is one of Ireland’s most famous archaeological sites, rivaling Tara for her royal associations, in this case with Queen Maeve.
âLiving Through Economic Warfareâ is another essay from a forgotten era – in the 1930s – when then-Brexit threatened the Irish economy. It lasted six years – from 1932 to 1938 – and it was a war we had to fight without any help from the EU. The “war” was settled when Britain accepted Â£ 10million instead of the Â£ 104million originally requested. I doubt the EU is doing better in the Brexit protocol row.
Religion occupies a preponderant place in these pages, with stories from the âStation Houseâ, when Mass was celebrated in the different houses of each city; âPilgrimageâ, during her stay in Cahore, she made the traditional pilgrimage from Wexford to Ãle Notre-Dame on August 15; and ‘The Liturgical Festival’, which recorded a momentous occasion in the summer of 1940 when massed choirs gathered from the Diocese of Elphin in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo, to promote Gregorian music in the liturgies of the ‘church.
âSr. Mary Anselm (young, petite, pale complexion) of the Sisters of Mercy, Strokestown, taught us plainsong,â she wrote. âThe task, which at first seemed insurmountable to us, became possible thanks to his enthusiasm and dedication. The Credo was in the most inspiring language of all, Credo in Unum Deum – the Latin version so musical compared to mundane English.
Finally, I found his essay âMy Husband is a Saintâ particularly touching. Written in 1978, while her husband was still alive, it was featured in the Evening Press, using his initials, BK, as a signature. âI am married to a saint! she wrote. “Yes indeed. Oh over there, all of you men who hate ‘women’s libertines’, would you believe that there really are good, if not holy husbands? Do I hear cynics – men or women – notice that only a devil can create a holy mate? Not so. From our first meeting I recognized how a true gentleman Michael was and nothing that has happened since has changed my opinion .
This essay was her very first to be published, at the age of 52, but her latest writing has left a very legible legacy in this very entertaining and informative book.