Ghosts of the Faithful Departed

One of my brothers in Ireland gifted me a book entitled Ghosts of the Faithful Departed by David Creedon. It is a beautiful, sad, and poignant pictorial trip down memory lane.

Ghosts of the Faithful Departed interior photo of room with painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on display. (Image Source: Photographers.ie)

Ghosts of the Faithful Departed interior photo of room with painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on display. (Image Source: Photographers.ie)

As I browsed through the photographs I began to realize how important a part religion played in the generations before us.

In the 160 pages of this book the iconic Sacred Heart painting was displayed at least 14 times, I had to look hard to see the last few, but they are there!

Religious statues such as the Child of Prague, considered lucky in my home-place if the head was broken off, religious calendars, paintings of the Virgin Mary, prayer books, scapulars, memorial cards, and pictures of various popes feature no less than 37 times in the 160 pages.

It is a beautiful book and shows what holds meaning for people. An unworn dress, purchased in America, with tags still attached, hangs from the back of a bedroom door. Probably too fashionable to wear in Ireland at the time. Maybe a daughter bought it for her mother and sent it home to Ireland as a gift. It was never worn.

I pulled out a magnifying glass to see what stood on mantelpieces beside crucifixes and candlestick holders; a small tin of Brasso, no longer keeping things shiny, but collecting dust like everything else. A calendar dated 1974 droops lopsided from a wall.

The most distressing picture of all is actually two pictures of the same scene, each taken just twelve months apart. Time ravages not just the body, but the things the body builds to give it warmth and comfort.

My father often said, “Time nor tide waits for no man.” Ghosts of the Faithful Departed is a brutal and vivid reminder that they don’t.

How many mothers and fathers sat beside an open fire and prayed the rosary for the son or daughter they saw off to America?

Did the Sacred Heart painting hanging on the wall give them solace? Did the statue of the Virgin Mary or the Child of Prague ease their sorrow? Who knows? Maybe they did.

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Review of Death and the Bereavement Group

Death and the Bereavement Group Cover

Death and the Bereavement Group by Loretto Horrigan Leary

Review of Death and the Bereavement Group on Amazon.com.

This book reminded me of one of my favorite movies, “Fargo,” by the Coen Bros. The world and the characters are so detailed and developed that it just seems simply realistic.

One of the best characteristics of a well made movie or well written novel, is to forget that you’re watching or reading, and to just be submerged into the story.

Check out this book and you’ll be transported to a small town filled with mystery. I’m ready for volume 2 🙂

Celtic Guide’s review of Mona, The Body in the Bog

Celtic Guide September Issue 2013

Celtic Guide September Issue 2013

I received a rather interesting book in the mail to review for this special ‘Muse’ issue of Celtic Guide.

The book, entitled, Mona, the Body in the Bog, was written by Loretto Leary, who hails from Connecticut but was actually born in County Galway, Ireland.
I absolutely love hearing about finds of old bodies, especially skulls, that have somehow remained intact enough for modern forensic study to take place. I most particularly love to see facial reconstruction as it brings these ancient Celts and other races to life, showing that they
usually didn’t really look much different than we
do, their lives were just so incredibly different.
Mona, the body in the bog

Mona, the body in the bog

The book struck me as being about halfway between a mystery novel and a documentary, though that is only my opinion.

Loretta says, “I was going for the reader coming to understand that the perfect society for women is a society that gives freedom of choice. I used the past and present tales to show how even though matriarchal societies sounded great for women, they really weren’t. And that even today, unless we have choice, we’re stuck in the
mud, so to speak.”
The mystery begins when a body is found in a bog in Ireland during construction work. It follows the lives of Elan, a female tribal chieftain from 700 BC, and Maire, the modern-day forensic scientist who studies her, naming her “Mona”.
A little bit of archeology, science, history, superstition, and drama, all told with Loretto Leary’s compassionate, intelligent voice, it is easy to instantly loved the characters in this story and to remain glued to the pages.
Was Mona murdered, or was it an accidental
death? Why did she die with three Roman coins
in her mouth? Will Maire be able to solve the
Loretto tells us, “This is a Celtic love story
and murder mystery, which unfolds with the
help of modern day forensic science. But science
can’t tell us everything. The lives of two women,
one in ancient Celtic Ireland, the other in present
day Ireland, unfolds as a bog body is discovered
and the brutality of the death is revealed. Both
women face challenges from the societies they
inhabit.”
Thank you Loretto for this great book!
(Just a note: this book is appropriate for ages 13
and older. There is some sex, and some violence
that younger readers might want to avoid.)
Thanks to James for reviewing Mona, the body in the Bog.

Tales from the Irish diaspora

The Boy and The Crow by Brendan Walsh

The Boy and The Crow by Brendan Walsh

It is a small world. No, I am not singing it, I’m just saying that it is a small world, after all.

My sister was best friends with a girl in secondary school who had an aunt that immigrated to England, had a son, and the family then immigrated to Canada.

I get an email from a man who has self-published a book and he tells me his cousins live not too far away from where I grew up in Ireland. Brendan Walsh, author of The Boy and the Crow contacted me about my writing, and his writing, and he mentioned how difficult it is as a self-published author to promote and publicize your work.

Brendan had this brilliant idea to generate more reviews of our self-published books on Amazon and Goodreads: we send each other copies of our books, read them, and review them.

I didn’t know at the time that he was the first cousin of my sister’s best friend in secondary school…..so, it’s a small world after all.

Without further ado, here is my review of Brendan Walsh’s lovely book The Boy and The Crow.

Daniel Cagney knows a thing or two about crows. He knows that there are two kinds; the gang members he hung out with in New York city who called themselves “The Crows,” and the Corvus brachyrhynchos kind, the American crow.

When Daniel is sent on a year’s probation to live with his grandparents on their farm in Vermont his knowledge of both types of “crows” changes. He learns to disassociate himself from his former gang with the help of his dog Jessie and a crow named Paddy. Humans help him along the way also, but Daniel’s appreciation for freedom comes mostly from Paddy.

When Daniel wounds Paddy by accident and then nurses the crow back to health, a bond is created between boy and crow. Although Danny saved Paddy’s life, at the end of the story we learn that Paddy returns the favor.

Gang life, teen angst, the need to belong, struggling to be accepted, and gang mentality are nothing when it comes to simple family values and the love of family and friends.

Walsh has a keen eye and ear for the sights and sounds of nature. He constructs a vivid word picture which transports the reader to the green hills of Vermont. I heard every “caw caw” as clearly as if Paddy was on my own shoulder. I shivered with Danny and his mother as they feared for their lives in a pit rapidly filling with water, I saw the landscape and felt the emotions of each character.

The lesson learned from The Boy and The Crow by Brendan Walsh is that sometimes animals and birds know more about us than we think. Read Brendan Walsh’s The Boy and The Crow, you’ll never look at a crow the same way again.

Stained Glass

Stained Glass potential cover picture.

Stained Glass potential cover picture.

I have just started writing the follow-up to The Foundling, Stained Glass. Here’s a sample of what to expect:

Chapter 1

Three Brothers

She smiled for him; he sensed disappointment. It was in her eyes and lips; she wore this look for many days. The lips pulled tight and the jaw pulsing with tension. Each day since their arrival the look of disappointment amplified, though she never spoke of her feelings. Ambiguity became her self-defense against the lectures she no longer wished to endure. The child, now eleven months old, softly slapped her cheek, demanding that she look at him and not his father. Robert reached to take the baby from Mairead and again her eyes and lips narrowed.

“How was your walk?” he asked, and began removing the child’s coat.  “It was refreshing,” Mairead said, as she untied her cape and then removed her hat. No one stood in the hall to take the items from her. Instead, she hung them in a closet beneath the staircase ascending to her left. The closet smelled of dry, musty wood, like the rest of the house.

          “Rosy cheeks,” Robert said, kissing the child on the cold forehead, enjoying the feeling of the tiny fingers caressing his eyebrows and exploring the rest of his face. “You miss home, Ireland?” he added, in an abstract way, not wanting to upset her, and glad the baby possessed his gaze. “Yes and no, I suppose is my answer.” She stood before him, and smiled again, without honesty, without innocence, guarded.  Before Robert could question her further, Aishling and Miss Bohane descended the staircase, their chatter drawing the attention of the child instantly. He reached his tiny arms skyward, recognizing Bohane’s voice and wanting instinctively to go to her.

“I am glad the colder air is back,” Bohane said, “The heat in the summer is almost unbearable here. Ah look who is back! Little Andrew!” Her voice lifted an octave, and she prepared to take her grandson into her arms. “I have never seen my skin such a dark color,” Aishling said. “It is almost as dark as that man who works at the mansion in town on West Avenue, Mister Cobb.” “Hardly,” Robert said, laughing at the comparison. “He is a black slave, you are not.”

She was not the lady of the house. She was only Lady Mountbellew at social gatherings, gatherings that Bohane and Aishling also attended. Inside Cranbury Park she was still Mairead, not Lady Mountbellew. No great walled garden to stroll in with circles of green grass bordered by flowers. No parties with fine guests, the house was not big enough. No servants around the clock, no glorious fires burning at day break. It was not acceptable that Robert treated all three women equally, she wanted more.

        As of late she had taken a fondness for giving orders, stopped helping around the mansion save for tending to the needs of Andrew, and occasionally Robert. Still, the other two women acted as her equal, and she commanded their respect by growing more distant. A divide developed, growing wider with each passing day. Three women thrown together, unsure of the hierarchy they belonged in.

Reviews of The Foundling, Mona and Outward Walls

The Foundling

ALL AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM

Click on books for direct links to Amazon

                              or

Check out Author’s website for direct links to the books.

Reviews of The Foundling

1. This is what Teacher-preneur said about The Foundling:

I want, “to tell you how much I enjoyed your novel. I read it in two days being unable to put it down. I developed a deep affection for the little family that grew up around Robert at Shannon Oaks. It broke my heart when the family was split up by the growing rebellion. I had started reading the Great Hunger so I was familiar with a little of the history surrounding O’Connell and am developing a deeper understanding of the fierce resistance to English rule in Ireland over the past two centuries.

The pace of revelations in the story was excellent. I was irresistibly drawn in. Also, early in the story I thought that maybe Robert would become involved in the resistance movement but as the story developed my hope that he and Mairead would make a new start in America was fulfilled.

I really can’t wait for Stained Glass to come out. I was intrigued by Mairead’s development near the end. She was young and her growing taste for finery along with her fantasizing about being the lady of a grand estate made me wonder if she would be disappointed by the relatively humble reality in Connecticut. I was also intrigued by her budding jealousy over Robert’s affection for his real mother. The first inkling of real flaws in her character seem to be emerging from the innocence and honesty she displayed through most of the story.

I do hope Robert becomes involved with the abolition movement in the U.S. as hinted in his discussion with Warren.”

2. This is what Judy M. had to say about The Foundling:

Just finished your fabulous first novel. I loved it! Can’t wait for #2. The writing is beautiful, the characters are interesting, colorful, and intriguing, and the plot twists are page turning!”

3. This is what Judith L said:

“This story brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “You can’t go home again.”Who is Robert Montbellew? And why does his mother resent him so much? And what of his forbidden love for a servant girl whose name he can barely pronounce? Loretto Leary has crafted a tale of mystery, romance, and class struggle against the backdrop of the 19th century Republican movement. I was instantly drawn to the characters and Loretto’s wonderfully descriptive writing. I “saw” the whole story in my head as if it were a movie. This book is the first in a series. I can’t wait to read the next one”

4. And here is D. Amin’s review of The Foundling:

“A very interesting, insightful introduction to Irish politics of the 1800′s (which I knew nothing about) all wrapped around a beautiful love story. The characters and their love story come to life! I totally lost myself in their world, and in the book…….Can’t wait to read the next in the series.”

Mona2Jeff

 Reviews of

Mona The Body in the Bog

“A Unique juxtaposition of parallel tales and times. Tana French, with a sense of humor.” C. Schack

” A really good read. The mystery begins when a body is found in a bog in Ireland during construction work. It follows the lives of Elan, a female tribal chieftain from 700 BC, and Maire, the modern-day forensic scientist who studies her, naming her “Mona”. A little bit of archeology, science, history, superstition, and drama, all told with Loretto Leary’s compassionate, intelligent voice. I instantly loved the characters in this story and found myself glued to the page in a way I haven’t been for a long time. Appropriate for ages 13 and older; there is some sex, and some violence younger readers might find upsetting. Was Mona murdered, or was it an accidental death? Why did she die with three Roman coins in her mouth? Will Maire be able to solve the mystery? Read the book and find out.”  Mrs. Entity

and

Reviews of

Dunluce Castle

Outward Walls

“A beautiful story, unexpected and thought-provoking….the lengths that people sometimes go to, to put on a front so that they can fit into society, when inside, there is nothing but loneliness, fear and doubt.”  D. Amin

“I enjoyed your book “Outward Walls.” Amazing how our judgements shape our reality so that we create an entire structure of beliefs around another persons life and interpret their behavior accordingly. You did a fantastic job of leading the reader through that process. I found myself engrossed in Siobhan’s repulsion at Maurice and Erica and her affection for Emily only to have all the perceptions shattered in the last couple of pages. Great story.”  Robert Preneur

Mona, the Body in the Bog

 

Mona2Jeff

NOW AVAILABLE on AMAZON.COM and KINDLE!!!!!

Mona The Body in the Bog

“A Unique juxtaposition of parallel tales and times. Tana French, with a sense of humor.” C. Schack

” A really good read. The mystery begins when a body is found in a bog in Ireland during construction work. It follows the lives of Elan, a female tribal chieftain from 700 BC, and Maire, the modern-day forensic scientist who studies her, naming her “Mona”. A little bit of archeology, science, history, superstition, and drama, all told with Loretto Leary’s compassionate, intelligent voice. I instantly loved the characters in this story and found myself glued to the page in a way I haven’t been for a long time. Appropriate for ages 13 and older; there is some sex, and some violence younger readers might find upsetting. Was Mona murdered, or was it an accidental death? Why did she die with three Roman coins in her mouth? Will Maire be able to solve the mystery? Read the book and find out.”  Mrs. Entity

NOW AVAILABLE on AMAZON.COM and KINDLE!!!!!

Review of The Foundling in Irish Scene

Colin Merrey of Irish Scene magazine in Australia read The Foundling and gave it a rave review. Thank you kindly sir. You can read the review in Irish Scene by clicking here.

Or you can read a copy and paste version of it below.The Foundling

The Foundling – Loretto Leary

The publisher is CeateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and the book is available from Amazon via their website at a cost of GBP8.42 plus postage etc.

Loretto is Irish born but now lives in the USA with her husband and son.

This book is the first in a trilogy set in the early 1800’s in Ireland and features the Mountbellew family. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it – as I do almost any book on Ireland, its people and its history.

This book presents a very interesting and insightful introduction to the Irish politics of that period nicely wrapped around a beautiful love story: it is indeed a well crafted tale of mystery, romance, and class struggle against the backdrop of the 19th century Republican movement.

The second book “Stained Glass” should be available in December 2013 and the final book of the trilogy “The Blackberry Man” will be available in December 2014. I really can’t wait for the next installment– but of course I will have to!

If you enjoy books about this period of Irish history and this genre of writing then this book is for you. It is well worth getting hold of from Amazon – I don’t know if it is yet available in Australia but I would hope that if enough of us get behind it then it may become available here in the future. Enjoy!!! Well that’s it for books this issue – don’t forget – the book competition is open (see above) for my book choice of the month.

Reviews of The Foundling

The Foundling by Loretto Leary

The Foundling by Loretto Leary

Three Reviews of my book The Foundling

1. A very interesting, insightful introduction to Irish politics of the 1800’s (which I knew nothing about) all wrapped around a beautiful love story. The characters and their love story come to life! I totally lost myself in their world, and in the book…….Can’t wait to read the next in the series.

2. I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your novel. I read it in two days being unable to put it down. I developed a deep affection for the little family that grew up around Robert at Shannon Oaks. It broke my heart when Dermot was shot and the family split up by the growing rebellion.The pace of revelations in the story was excellent. I was irresistibly drawn in. Also, early in the story I thought that maybe Robert would become involved in the resistance movement but as the story developed my hope that he and Mairead would make a new start in America was fulfilled. I really can’t wait for Stained Glass to come out.

3. This story brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “You can’t go home again.”Who is Robert Mountbellew? And why does his mother resent him so much? And what of his forbidden love for a servant girl whose name he can barely pronounce? Loretto Leary has crafted a tale of mystery, romance, and class struggle against the backdrop of the 19th century Republican movement. I was instantly drawn to the characters and Loretto’s wonderfully descriptive writing. I “saw” the whole story in my head as if it were a movie. This book is the first in a series. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Mona, the Body in the Bog

Mona, The Body in the Bog, my current book, is available on Amazon and Kindle.

Stephen King has nothing to worry about. Here’s my first ever attempt at writing a book.

Though the story begins with two male warriors, it really is about two women; one lives in ancient Celtic Ireland, and the other lives in the present.

Here is the introduction to my ancient Celtic murder mystery and love story.

Prologue

Never before had he seen the symbol of the triune goddess on anyone else but his wife and himself. Now, lying on the beach here before him lay a defeated Fir Bolg with the same symbol dangling from his neck; three intertwined silver leaves glittering in the golden, sinking sunlight.

A hand reached up to touch his tunic. The sun blinding the fallen warrior’s eyes, the figure standing before the Fir Bolg warrior now a black silhouette, in stark contrast to the brightness surrounding him.

Behind the wounded Fir Bolg warrior, the waves rolled in, crashing against his back, knocking him off balance. Again his hand reached for the tunic, but slipped, grabbing the checkered braccae that stuck to the Irish Celt’s legs with each crashing wave that broke against his muscular calves.

The spear was a thin wooden shaft, its iron point projecting at an angle, making it ready for a downward stab, a fearsome threat to the Fir Bolg laying half raised on his left arm as he lay, helpless and defeated on the pebbled beach.

The spear remained aloft, ready to strike at any moment, instilling fear into the Fir Bolg, yet he refused to show it. None of the  warriors from his Belgae tribe were trained to die showing pain. Alone on the beach, here and now, with his Irish enemy before him, he struggled to hide his fear of death; the silhouette of his enemy looming above him, like a lightning bolt, ready to strike at any moment

The warrior on the sand was a Fir Bolg, a Celt from northern mainland Europe, young and fierce. Although he had dealt vicious blows with his sword toward the Irish Celt now standing before him, the Fir Bolg warrior did not give up easily.

His outstretched hand now grasping the braccae of his Irish enemy, not a threatening move, the Irish Celt could see that the Fir Bolg was weak. The attempt to invade Ireland’s shores from the south of the island had failed for the Fir Bolg. The Irish had defended their shores successfully, this time.

The Irish Celt moved forward, extending his hand to the warrior. Although at least ten years older than his Fir Bolg counterpart, they had fought a fair battle, and now one would leave a victor and the other would die.

The outstretched hand grabbed the wrist of the Fir Bolg. Blood streamed down the Fir Bolg’s forearm, when it hit his elbow it dripped furiously to the sand, staining it a deep red.

Believing that his enemy would perish on the beach, the Irish man prepared himself for the final stab of the Fir Bolg. He lifted his foot from the sand, resting it on the defeated warrior’s left shoulder, then shoving down with his foot. The Fir Bolg felt himself press into the wet sand, now feeling hard, like stone. The Irish Celt threw his spear aside and his right hand reached to the scabbard at his left, withdrawing a small sword with a wide blade.

The Irish warrior dropped to his knees and grabbed the long, blond, wet hair of the Fir Bolg Celt. Grabbing the sword even tighter, the Irish Celt pulled the hair back with his left hand and positioned the sharp blade of his sword below the area of the Fir Bolg’s neck, where the beard hairs were short and the skin was smooth.

His blade began to apply pressure to the skin and a trickle of blood appeared, dribbling over the silver triune goddess symbol, sparkling in the sun, silver and blood. The Fir Bolg wore the same triune goddess symbol around his neck as the Irish Celt, Diarmuid, wore on his wrist.

Easing the pressure of the sword, he looked at his wrist, the enormous hand softening its hold on the sword. The leather strap was blood stained, but the symbol of the triune goddess shone in the sunlight. He had never seen anyone else wear this symbol, only his own wife, Etain. It was she who had given it to him.

The Irish Celt removed the sword and shifted his grip from the Fir Bolg’s hair to the cloth at the front of his chest. The Fir Bolg felt himself pulled to standing. They stood, face to face, and the Irish Celt spoke in a tongue similar to the Fir Bolg warrior’s own language.

“My wife reveres all life. Today I have killed my last man. If I spare you it is because of this,” he shook the wristlet on his left arm. “Birth, Life and Death, do you understand?”

The Fir Bolg nodded. He recognized the wristlet, three intertwined leaf symbols. The Irish Celt took a step backwards, he stretched out his hand and placed it on the Fir Bolg’s left shoulder, “Live,” he said, “Today you will live!” Then he stepped away, turning towards the mainland, and disappearing into the forest.

The Fir Bolg watched his enemy walked away, then he collapsed back into the damp cold sand and semi-consciousness on the cold shores of Cork in the south of Ireland.

In sixteen years the two men would meet again, but only one would be spared.