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  • Writer's pictureLizzy Shannon

Answer to prayer, and other things ...

Okay, I’ve faffed around enough. Been in Northern Ireland for six months now and haven’t written very much at all. I have, however, become most adept in the art of procrastination. But no longer! Today I am opening the door to creativity, beginning with this blog. I find that it really helps focus the mind, and if nothing else, is writing. Jay Lake, who wrote his blog faithfully every single morning, used to nag me to do the same. I’ve admitted many times in the past that I’m a dreadful blogger. The problem lies in that by the time I get around to writing it, so much has happened it would take a novel to share it all. I’m going to try and change that. If I write even a paragraph every day or so, maybe I can keep it up.

It’s a shame that I haven’t been doing so. It’s been quite a year with a lot happening. The condensed version is: I moved back here last October to take care of my elderly (and eccentric!) father. Not that he really needs a lot of care at the moment. He’s almost 93 and still drives, still takes his dog out for walks daily, still works in the garden, and prepares his own meals when I’m not there. Good genes, he claims. I can only hope to have inherited them!

I got an instant family in December by adopting two black male kittens. Both were very ill when they got here but with lots of love and special care they are now both in great shape. They are quite the characters, always up to some sort of mischief. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m so lucky that my brothers and their families are here (and in Scotland). A childhood friend and I got reacquainted thanks to Facebook, and she has been wonderful, including me in her circle of friends so I’ve been having a blast going out on many girls’ nights! Another childhood friend and I met in November for the first time since 1979, and I’m looking forward to getting to know her all over again. I’ve also been fortunate to have met some new amazing friends, amongst whom is the artist behind the cover of A Song of Bullets, one who is a very gifted local poet, and the other a fellow returned native. Making new friends is apparently something that’s supposed to become more difficult the older you get, so I am very grateful.

Work wise, I continued to translate my Great-Uncle Ernest Blythe’s (Earnán de Blaghd) three-book memoirs from Irish into English. Having learned no Irish at all growing up, this was quite the undertaking. I have loved every challenging moment of it. It was like being read a bedtime story, not knowing what was coming next. Just before Christmas I finished the first book of the series. But then progress became horribly congested. Although I was proud of myself for completing it, I knew it was nowhere nearly good enough for a literal translation. So I decided to adapt the memoirs into a biography, but still didn’t feel I was doing his words justice. I’m sure this has had a lot to do with why I haven’t been writing. When A Song of Bullets was published in 2016, I made a promise to myself that I’d finish my great-uncle’s work before I began another book of my own. But I trapped myself between the proverbial rock and hard place. I couldn’t write anything until I’d finished the memoirs, and I couldn’t finish the memoirs because I felt creatively stymied.

Then a remarkable thing happened. Out of the blue Dad got a phone call from a man with a beautiful Irish accent, Clive Geraghty, who wanted to talk to him about Uncle Ernest. As Dad is hard of hearing I returned the call. Mr. Geraghty is an extremely talented, well-known Irish actor, playwright, and published author. (I’ll let his webpage and biography speak for him!) He apparently got his start as an actor many years ago at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin when my great-uncle was a director. He has started translating the books himself, and writing a thesis on him. Hearing his enthusiasm for Ernest and learning that he spoke fluent Irish, I felt like Clive was an answer to prayer. We met shortly after in Dundalk, just south of the border and agreed to collaborate on the memoirs. Clive will translate and I will edit. There are plans afoot about publishing it, but I will wait until we have something concrete to share. At the moment it is a labour of love, and we’ll just see where it goes. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. Clive just finished one of the books already and I got to read it exactly as Uncle Ernest wrote it. It’s so awesome, in the proper sense of the word. I can hardly wait to read what happens next!

So, that brings you up pretty much to date with me. I will have lots more to share, and hopefully be able to tell you about my new book. Not sure what it’s going to be, just yet. I’m fiddling with a couple of ideas. Very exciting, starting out once again with a totally blank page/screen!

Earnan de Blaghd
Ernest Blythe


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