Mary’s Ireland

Mary’s Ireland is a love story between an Irish barmaid and a Polish sailor. From a working class Catholic family of nineteenth century Belfast, Mary Cannon meets Walenty Nikodemski in her pub, The Shamrock. Initially, Mary is taken by Walenty’s looks especially his eyes, which shine jade black ‘seeing right through me to the very white of my skin’. With attraction battling suspicion Mary gradually sees more deeply into the character, family and home of Walenty, or Nikoda, as sailors call him. Mary never gains the full picture.

Mary’s largely Catholic Ireland under centuries of Protestant British rule is compared to Nikoda’s Poland under centuries of Tsarist Russian occupation. Fighting hardship with family humour, love and their Catholic faith, the Cannons confront poverty, war, famine, corruption, violence, disease, death and family break up. From a peasant background, Nikoda’s family endures similar hardships also accepting them as a normal part of life, once again buoyed by Catholicism, long banned by the Russian Tsars.

These cultural similarities include bigotry, which is often based on self-serving fabrications. Mary’s Ireland reflects on this bias through the troubles between the Protestants and Catholics of Belfast, the lives of Jews, nationalism and religion. The Cannons and Nikodemskis bring their prejudices, bravado and egos to the traumas of Crimean War of 1853–1856, the subsequent Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and the battles on Belfast’s streets. Wealth, poverty and power breed the bias and underpin the novel, governing life from food, clothing and housing through work and education to religious and political freedom.

Encased in historical events and settings, Mary’s Ireland enshrines the human capacity to survive hardships and indeed flourish within them, ‘turning donkeys into racehorses’.

Mary’s Ireland is the first of a trilogy with Mary’s Poland and Mary’s War.  

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Mary’s Ireland has been published. It is available through your online store e.g. amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository etc as well as through the publisher aurorahouse.com.au. There is great interest in the book…in Maine, New York, Belfast, Newcastle UK & Aust, Hobart, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and New Zealand…exciting. Awaiting the reviews.


The Irish...victims of racism

As I get closer to launching ‘Mary’s Ireland’, (30 November?) I am disappointed but never surprised to realise the racist views that people have held and still hold for other people…people who are different. Whilst the Irish have fought battles amongst themselves, as have many nations, the racist slurs and violent actions from other groups towards the Irish are age old and supremacist in nature. The English politician and eventual Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli claimed, ‘[The Irish] hate our free and fertile isle. They hate our order, our enterprising industry, our sustained courage, our decorous liberty, our pure religion. This wild, reckless, indolent, uncertain and superstitious race have no sympathy with the English character…’ 1832. Those beliefs and attitudes are indeed alive today…for many disadvantaged groups. Perhaps not the Irish now but we readily change our targets.


Beautiful Ireland

Ireland consists of Old Irish Eriu + English land. Eriu derives from Proto-Celtic *Iveriu (compare Welsh Iwerddon), which is also the source of Latin Hibernia. Iveriu derives from a root meaning “fat, prosperous”.

Image by Wenceslaus Hollar – Artwork from University of Toronto Wenceslaus Hollar Digital CollectionScanned by University of TorontoHigh-resolution version extracted using custom tool by User:Dcoetzee, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6239461