Veronica gets some visitors

Arthur is having difficulty concentrating at work. The wedding will be the following Saturday. He’s starting to doubt that Kathleen will come. At that moment he receives a phone call. His stomach turns over when he hears Kathleen’s voice asking can they talk for five minutes.

She tells him that she’d like to come to the wedding, but asks whether it would be possible for her to meet Veronica beforehand – to avoid her being upset on her wedding day, as would happen if Kathleen were just to appear out of the blue. She asks, if it were possible, if the meeting could be that night, as she and Sean were staying at a hotel in Dublin at the moment. She suggests that Arthur and Sean could go out for a pint together while she talks to Veronica. He agrees and the visit time is fixed for six that night.

Arthur worries that Veronica will never forgive him if it all goes wrong. When he arrives home, she notices that he seems edgy – he puts it down to wedding nerves. After their meal, when she’s loading dishes into the sink, the doorbell rings. He says that he’ll answer it. She hears Arthur speaking to someone and the door closing. When she sees Kathleen she begins to cry. Kathleen asks why she’s never told her where she’s been living. She replies that she’d thought that Kathleen would hate her.

Kathleen introduces Sean, and Veronica thanks Arthur for what he’s done on her behalf. The two men go for a pint and the two women begin their long overdue talk. Veronica asks how Jonah is – she refers to him as John James – his baptismal name. Kathleen presents her with a photograph. She sees the resemblance to her dada straight away. On the back of the photo is a message to her that Jonah has written. She is overcome that Jonah knows about her. Kathleen explains that he’s always known, and tells her about how Jonah helps around the farm. She tells Veronica that no-one hates her and that she’s missed her – that she will always be grateful to her for leaving Jonah with her. They have a long talk and Kathleen promises Veronica that she’ll be able to meet Jonah.

Veronica thanks Kathleen for coming and, when the men return the two women agree to meet the following day. Veronica takes Kathleen to the café where she works and introduces her to Mary. They then go to Bewleys for a coffee. While they are there, Kathleen tells her about the trip that she and the cousins had made to Dublin some years previously, when Teresa had given some money from them all to someone they’d thought was a beggar. She says that Teresa had thought afterwards that it might have been Veronica, and how they’d gone looking for her. Veronica remembered when someone had handed her some coins – at the time she’d been recovering having fainted.

Veronica asks Kathleen what had happened that she hadn’t married Albert. Kathleen explains that the fact that nothing had happened, or seemed likely to happen, was the reason. She tells Veronica that she thinks that Arthur is a lovely man, invites her to come to the farm sometime and promises that they can put her and Arthur up. When they part, Kathleen wishes her luck for the following day and tells her not to be late. She returns to meet Sean and they return to their hotel. Veronica goes back to the apartment bursting with happiness.

Tomorrow – Veronica gets some more visitors.

Today’s featured photograph is yet another of the village of Sneem on the Ring of Kerry, taken, as usual for that trip, with my Pentax K3-ii camera and 16-85 mm lens. The shutter speed was 1/50 secs, the aperture f/8, the focal length 16 mm, and the ISO 400.

Kathleen gets a visitor

Veronica’s wedding to Arthur is now firmly planned, but she’s still sad because of what seems to her an unbridgeable gap between her, Kathleen and Jonah.

Back at the farm, Kathleen’s walking across the yard, followed by Crackers the cat, when she sees a man looking at the farmhouse and holding a piece of paper. He looks lost, so Kathleen asks him how she can help. He explains that he’s looking for Kathleen Grennan. She identifies himself, tells him she’s not called Grennan anymore, but asks him what he wants.

He identifies himself as Arthur Western and tells her that he’ll shortly be married to Veronica. Kathleen’s face drains of colour and she asks him coldly what she wants and why she couldn’t face her in person. He tells her that Veronica has no idea that he’s there; that he knows how sorry she’s been over what happened, and that she’s written to her family in England at last. Kathleen retorts that Veronica still hasn’t written to her own son – and that says a lot – that Veronica’s loss has been her gain. She says that she will never give Jonah up – not ever.

He pleads for a hearing and she agrees, inviting him in for a cup of tea. He admires the room, and sees a painting on the cottage wall of three young people. He recognises Veronica and Kathleen from it. He asks whether Kathleen painted it. She tells him that Veronica had painted it and given it to her before she’d left England. He tells her about the snow globe that’s the only thing that Veronica has kept from home. Kathleen asks him where Veronica has been all the time since she left the farm.

He tells her that she’s been in Dublin and how they’d met one Christmas when he’d thought that she was about to commit suicide. Kathleen was horrified. She asks whether she was really thinking of jumping in the Liffey. He admits that she probably doesn’t know the answer to that herself, but it had given him a fright. Kathleen recognises that he’s probably a nice man, but tells him that he still hasn’t said why he’s come.

He tells her that he just wants to know whether Kathleen could think of forgiving Veronica – her loss has been Kathleen’s gain as she’s said herself. He says that Veronica had never thought of taking Jonah back and that she’d never have dreamt of leaving him with anyone else. She hadn’t wanted her son brought up in poverty; she couldn’t return to England; and she couldn’t put him up for adoption. Kathleen had been her only hope. She’d never planned to leave in the way she did and has lived with guilt and shame ever since – thinking that everyone hates her.

Other than asking Kathleen to forgive her, he asks whether she’d consider being his wedding present to Veronica by being at her wedding. It would make her so happy. He asks her to consider it – he isn’t asking her to decide there and then. He tells her that he’ll have to leave so that he won’t be late home – he doesn’t want Veronica to know what he’s done. He leaves her with details of the wedding and thanks her for listening to him. She gives him a lift to the station.

When she returns she tells her mam and nan about her visitor and, that night, she asks Sean what he thinks she should do. They talk it over and, listening to him, she agrees to go to the wedding if he’ll go with her. The following day she tells her grandad who says that she’s probably made the right decision. She calls Jonah over and tells him what’s been happening and what she’s decided.

Jonah asks whether Veronica will want to take him back and she assures him that she won’t. He asks whether she and Veronica were best friends and she tells him that they were – ever since they were babies. He tells her that she should make friends again and go to the wedding. Kathleen was really proud of him and Sean asks Jonah whether he’d like to go fishing the following day. Jonah was delighted.

Tomorrow – Veronica gets a visitor

Today’s featured photo is another from the village of Sneem on the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. As with all my Irish photos. I took it with my Pentax K3-ii camera and a 16-85 mm lens. The shutter speed was 1/100 secs, the aperture f/8, the focal length 28 mm and the ISO 400.

Betty gets some letters

Thank goodness! Veronica has finally written to her mam, Betty. When Betty sees the envelope from Ireland she’s afraid to open it. She knows Kathleen’s handwriting, and that on the envelope isn’t hers. She worries in case something has happened to Kathleen or Jonah.

She know that her daughter, Elsie, will be calling that afternoon – as every afternoon – with the twins. She’ll wait until they arrive to find out what the envelope contains. As soon as she arrives, Elsie sees the worried look on her mam’s face and asks what the matter is. Betty shows her the envelope and tells her that since it isn’t Kathleen’s writing, she’s worried. They agree that Elsie should open it. She does so and her eyes go straight to the bottom line. She sees that it’s from Veronica and that she’s alright.

She passes the letter to Betty to read. Each line of the letter excites Betty more and she reads aloud sections as she goes. Veronica’s living in Dublin; she’s sent her address, so they’ll be able to write back; she’s had a job in a café for the past eleven years and enjoys the work. Veronica is sorry for what she did, but at the time couldn’t see any other way forward; that she thinks about Kathleen and Jonah every day and that she’d love to know how they all are. She doesn’t want anything from them other than to know – from time-to-time – how they all are. She hopes that Kathleen doesn’t hate her. She wonders whether Jonah looks like her own dad. Finally she asks her mam to write to her.

Betty replies the following day. She doesn’t write to Kathleen about Veronica’s letter in case it worried her. She assures Veronica in her reply that everyone loves her and hopes to see her again soon.

Veronica’s second letter to Betty arrives a week later with news of the engagement and the plans for the wedding. She tells her mam about Arthur and how long they’ve known each other. She also assures Betty that Arthur knows all about the baby. She tells Betty that she’d love to see her family at the wedding, but realises that it’s very short notice. She ends the letter by informing Betty that she’ll be coming to see her with Arthur soon and that they’ll stay in a hotel.

When Elsie hears about the wedding, she arranges with her sister and Betty to travel across together to be at the wedding. Elsie’s husband books the travel and a bed and breakfast hotel for them and Albert promises to take them to the port and to collect them on their return.

My featured photo today is one that I took while in holiday in Ireland in 2017 again, but this time while in Sneem on a day trip around the Ring of Kerry. I used my Pentax K3-ii camera – I won’t repeat the details except that the shutter speed was 1/125 secs at f/8 and 35 mm. The ISO was 400.

Veronica’s luck changes

In Veronica’s story we move on to 1966, two years after Kathleen’s marriage, and the day before Jonah would be eleven years old. She’s still working at Mary’s café, but Mary’s mother Violet is ill at the moment so Veronica is running the shop alone.

After work and a bath, she sits in her nightdress and dressing-gown reflecting. She thinks about Jonah and wishes that she knew how he is. She decides to write to her mother that night and to post the letter the following day before her planned walk with Arthur. They’ve grown quite close over the past few years in friendship. A year ago, she’d told him about her life in England and her friendship with Kathleen. She’d finally told him about the baby, even though she’d worried that the revelation might end their friendship. He’d known all along that there had been something that she hadn’t felt free to tell him. He’d comforted her as she cried in his arms. He’d wanted to do something to help her to become reconciled with her family but she’d refused at that time.

The following day, as she walks with him, he remarks how quiet she seems. She tells him that she’s finally written to her mother, but worries how it will be received. He tells her not to worry. She tells him that she doesn’t know what she’d do without him as her friend. He asks her why she’d never married and she tells him that she doesn’t feel that she deserves another chance after how she’d abandoned Jonah. He tells her that, if he hadn’t been so much older than her, he’d have already proposed, and that he’d loved her for a long time. She tells him that she’d loved him too, but had always thought that he was too good for her. He tells her that he couldn’t say anything before for fear of scaring her off – after all, he was old enough to be her dad. He asks her out to dinner for the following night.

On the way to the restaurant where they are to celebrate their declaration of love for each other, they walk by the spot on the river where they first met. They pause, looking again at the river and he proposes marriage to her. She’s thrilled and, over dinner, they plan their wedding for six-weeks time. She moves into his apartment with him until they decide where they will live permanently. The days following in that week are a blur as she buys a dress and they book the church and a restaurant. Mary, the café owner, will be maid-of-honour and a friend of Arthur will be best man.

The bliss evaporates instantly when a letter arrives one morning from England. She fears what it might say, and waits for Arthur to be with her when she opens it. In fact, when they are together that evening, she’s trembling as she asks him to open it and read it first. He does so and tells her that it’s only good news from her mam.

Betty, her mam, thanks her, in the letter, for writing, and that she’s been praying for her. She passes on news about her sisters, who are now grown up and married. Her brother, Tom, works with Albert and Robert is a mechanic. She informs her that Kathleen and Albert have split-up and that she’s married someone else. She assures her that Jonah is well and loves Kathleen, as she and all at the farm love him. She begs Veronica to come home to see all her family.

Veronica cries with relief. Arthur tells her that they can go and see her mam while on their honeymoon. He asks her whether she’d like Kathleen to know. She says that she would, but she wouldn’t want Kathleen to think that it was because of Jonah, and she worries that if she went to the farm she’d be met with hate in their faces. She resolves to write to Betty to tell her about her planned marriage.

Tomorrow – Betty gets some letters

Today’s featured photo is the last in the series from Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula. I took it while walking from the cottage where we were staying on the approach into the village. I used my Pentax K3-ii cropped sensor 24MP camera with a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at f/16 and 16 mm. The shutter speed was 1/20 secs and the ISO 400.

Someone gets dumped, someone proposes and someone gets married.

We leave Veronica’s story for a while – so much is happening in Kathleen’s life. The first thing is that she’s finally had enough of Albert’s dilly-dallying. He’d delayed long-enough in her mind, and had even wanted her to move to England because it would be convenient for HIS job! What about HER commitments? It would allow them to buy a house near to HIS mam – no thought to her having to be so far from HER family! She writes to him to tell him that he’s dumped.

By 1963, things have moved on for Kathleen. She’s really happy with her life. The businesses are doing well; her grandad has a newer car; they have a television set and a telephone; Jonah, now eight years old is happy at school and knows about his adoption. Kathleen has told him that his birth mam might come looking for him one day, but he protests that he doesn’t want to go with her – he wants to stay with Kathleen, whom he sees as his real mammy, and his grandparents. James, her dada has started work on refurbishing the old place that Kathleen had fancied as a piggery.

As he starts work on the old building, he realises that they’ll need outside help – especially with the roof, which needs doing first to keep the rain out while they’re working inside. He phones a local builder – Sean Connelly who comes out to take a look at what’s going to be involved. Sean says that he can do the job on Saturdays, but he’ll finish it faster if James helps him. That’s fine by James. Sean has noticed Kathleen playing with Jonah. He thinks that she’s really attractive and wonders if she’s married. Kathleen has kept looking at Sean with interest too. Her grandad notices, and asks Sean, will his wife not mind him working on Saturdays. Sean tells him that he isn’t married – hasn’t found anyone YET, but he’s sure there’s someone out there for him – as he looks pointedly at Kathleen.

The following week, Sean starts work. Jonah tells him that Kathleen’s made some tea in the kitchen. As he goes in, he ruffles Jonah’s hair and asks his name. He then asks where his name comes from, as Jonah isn’t Irish. Jonah tells him that his other Mum had named him John James when he was born but that he’d let out such a wail that Grandy had said his nickname should be Jonah. Sean wonders what this ‘other’ mammy was all about. He asks Jonah whether he like fishing and the boy says that he’s never been fishing, so he doesn’t know. Sean invites him to come fishing with him and the lad pleads with his mam, who isn’t sure. Sean invites her to come too, and it’s all agreed.

On the day, Kathleen’s made up a picnic and Sean has brought a child’s rod. Jonah catches a fish and Kathleen sees how gently Sean helps him to land it. He promises Jonah not to kill the fish, but to put it in a keep net and let it go later. He and Kathleen talk and he asks her about Jonah’s father. She explains the whole Veronica business and he’s horrified. They’ve all enjoyed the outing. They’ve caught seven fish in all. Sean asks Kathleen if she’ll come out with him for a meal so that he can get to know her better. She really likes him and is thrilled to be asked.

The meal, at a nice restaurant, goes well and they talk a lot, finding out a great deal about each other. Kathleen has enjoyed the evening and, on the way back, he asks if she’ll mind him pulling into a layby. He tells her how much he likes her and they agree to see each other regularly. They kiss – at first gently, then passionately. She tells him that she and Albert had never had sex and that he hadn’t even tried. Sean is incredulous. They agree to meet again the following Saturday.

They start going out regularly and Sean rents a flat nearby so that they can have time alone together. She gets to meet his family and invites them to the farm for a meal. By the time the building work is completed, he asks Michael, her grandad, does he agree that it’s time to move on to the next phase with Kathleen. Michael agrees. Sean makes a date for himself and Kathleen to go for another meal at the same restaurant as the first time. During the meal, after ordering some wine, he makes an excuse to get something from the car. Kathleen thinks that he looks nervous, but when he returns, he proposes on bended knee and she accepts to applause from the other diners.

The following day, they inform Jonah, who’s thrilled that he’ll have someone to call dada. They tell him that his name will be Jonah Connelly. Plans are made to turn the old building into a cottage for Kathleen, Sean and Jonah by the following Spring. The following year, they are married in the local church and take a honeymoon in Killarney. While they are away Kathleen’s Mum and Nan make nice curtains and cushions for the cottage. Jonah loves his new bedroom.

Tomorrow – Veronica’s luck changes.

Today’s photo is another I snapped in Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula of County Cork. I took this because the address plaque says that it’s the Pink House yet it’s painted pale blue! My camera was the 24 MP Pentax K3-ii with a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at f/16 and 28 mm. The shutter speed was 1/30 secs and the ISO 400.

What’s Veronica’s side of the story?

Up to now, for a few days, we’ve followed the story of Kathleen – from birth to settling on her grandad’s farm in Wexford, and to dumping Albert as a lost cause. She starts to see a life without him. We saw how Veronica went with Kathleen and her family to Wexford to have her baby away from England and the awful father, Terry. She then, however, abandoned baby Jonah, leaving him for Kathleen to bring up. That’s the last we saw of her – except, perhaps, it was her whom Teresa, Kathleen’s cousin, took pity on in Dublin some years later.

Today we hear from Veronica, telling her story in the first person. She’s realised that she can neither continue to expect Kathleen’s family to support her and the baby, nor can she return home with the baby. She doesn’t have the same maternal instinct that Kathleen has, and feels that it would be better for baby Jonah if she left him with Kathleen. When circumstances allow her to leave, in ‘creep away mode’, she disappears from the farm, travelling to Dublin, leaving Jonah and a letter for Kathleen.

In Dublin, after trailing around, she rents a room for a week, paying in advance. After a poor night’s sleep she goes looking for work in a shop. Feeling tired after lots of unsuccessful attempts, she notices a café and goes in for a drink. The owner stops to talk to her and offers her a job in the café, where she’s provided with a room above the shop as part of her wage.

She works hard in the shop, showing initiative and she impresses the owner and customers. By the end of the first week she’s become established enough to collect her things from the room she’d rented on arrival. She gets on well with the café owner, Mary and her mother, Violet. After two years she’s become so much a part of the shop that she spends Christmas day with them.

All this is very well, but her conscience is constantly troubled by her past. She misses Kathleen and hopes that Albert would be now married to her and be a good surrogate father to Jonah. After the Christmas meal, she bursts into tears, missing her family and friends. She misses having someone like Kathleen to put their arms around her to comfort her. She decides to go for a walk along the banks of the River Liffey.

As she stands, looking down at the river, someone speaks to her, checking that she’s alright. It’s a man, who’s worried that she’s thinking about jumping to her death. She assures him that she’s alright and was just in a reverie. He introduces himself as Arthur Western, and they walk together along the river bank. She learns that he’s much older than her, single and was once to have been married but his fiancée had died of consumption at the age of twenty-three. He works at the University. Veronica tells him as much of her story as she’s prepared to divulge. As they part, she thanks him for his company. He tells her that he’d be at the same place the following Sunday if she should wish another walk.

During the following week she resolves to write to her mother and buys some writing materials and some painting equipment. While she’s out, she calls into Bewleys for a coffee and buys a newspaper to read while she drinks it. As she reads, she senses that someone is looking at her. It’s Arthur. They sit together and talk. They introduce each other properly and are now on first name terms. By the time they leave, they’ve arranged to meet again the following Sunday. That becomes a regular fixture. He continues to be open with her but is sure that she is concealing something that she’s worrying about. He feels that she’s very young to be carrying such a burden.

She does some paintings which she frames and hangs in the café, but she still hasn’t written to her mother. In the March, she remembers that it will be Jonah’s third birthday and spends some time wondering how he is. She images him playing.

Later that month, walking through the town one evening to buy some aspirin for a headache she feels faint, collapses and someone props her up outside a pub. While a passer-by is trying to get her to drink some water and someone else is offering her whisky to revive her, she becomes vaguely aware that someone else again is pressing money into her hand. She remembers murmuring a ‘Thank you’. The next day, the shop owner, Mary, comes to see her when she doesn’t show up for work and calls a doctor, who diagnoses a bad case of flu. He orders Veronica to have three weeks proper rest.

It’s almost a week after that period, when putting her hand in her coat pocket, she discovers more than three pounds in loose change. She thought that she’d dreamed it, but wonders why she was given it.

It seems to me to be a strong coincidence. I bet that the donor was Teresa, don’t you?

Today’s featured image is set, once again, on one of the colourful streets of Eyeries, Beara Peninsula, County Cork, Eire. I took it with my Pentax K3-ii 24 MP cropped sensor camera using a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at f/16 and 16 mm. The shutter speed was 1/15 and the ISO 400.

A weekend in Dublin with the girls

It looks as if Kathleen may finally be fed up with Albert, and the letter she sent should have made him realise. Still in 1958, she leaves on the train to Dublin with Teresa and the other cousins instead of waiting for him: more fool him for putting a prospective work order first in his priorities.

Teresa puts her foot in it on the way there, when she asks Kathleen if she doesn’t miss the nights of passion she’d had with Albert on his occasional visits. When she sees the look on Kathleen’s face, she realises that there hadn’t been any such nights, and apologises. Kathleen explains that she’d thought that he’d just been being respectful, but had, nevertheless, been surprised when he hadn’t even had a try. Teresa tells her how insulting that was and wonders what the matter was with him. They both have a laugh about it.

When they get to Dublin, they check into their hotel then go to Bewleys for lunch. Kathleen was fascinated by the city. The girls had a trip on a tour bus then walked down O’Connell Street before going into a bar. They were having fun.

Later, at the hotel after having a shower, Teresa and Kathleen talk. Teresa apologises again for what she’d said on the train. Kathleen laughs it off. Teresa tells her that she wouldn’t even buy a dress without trying it on let alone commit her life to a man. They have a nap before dinner and wake up just in time.

After dinner, they all walk down to the River to see the sights by night and ‘gawp at all the lovely fellas’. Lots of other people were out enjoying themselves. Other folk were drunk, but it was some people outside a pub that drew Teresa’s attention. One of them seemed to be begging. She tells the others that she’s going to give the beggar some money. The others chip in. When she re-joins them, she’s concerned about the beggar having to sleep on the streets. They go back to the hotel to have a drink and decide on their plans for the following day.

The next morning, Teresa and Kathleen arise early and go for a stroll beside the River before breakfast. As they walk, Teresa comments that there’s no sign of the people who were begging. Back at the hotel, she confides to Kathleen that she’s worried. She hadn’t said anything to Kathleen the night before – not wanting to spoil her evening – but she thinks that the girl she gave the money to may have been Veronica.

Kathleen is truly upset. She feels a sense of obligation to find Veronica and help her. She remembers a promise that she’d made to Veronica as a child. Teresa makes her go down for breakfast and they agree to try to find her. Following their route from the previous night they locate the pub outside which the girl had been begging and ask the owner what he knows about her. Veronica’s name doesn’t ring any bells with him, but he suggests that if Veronica had been there ‘after business’ the previous night, she might be in the city centre during the day.

Kathleen asks him to explain, but Teresa drags her out of the pub and has to spell out to her what he meant – and that they need to move elsewhere, as it seems that they may be in a red-light district. She doesn’t fancy being propositioned. They search the city but find no trace of her, so they visit Bewleys again for a coffee. They then head towards the university, nearing which Teresa ponders whether they offer degrees in that kind of ‘business’. They give up on their hunt and have lunch before going to the shops to look for clothes and for presents to take back to the family.

What happens next in Dublin for the girls isn’t revealed because the next couple of chapters tell Veronica’s story. Tomorrow’s post will have a look at that.

The featured photo today is again one that I took while on holiday in Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula of County Cork, Eire. I took it with a Pentax K3-ii 24 MP cropped sensor camera paired with a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at f/16 and 16 mm. The shutter speed was 1/15 secs and the ISO was 400.

A letter to Albert

We move on to 1958, three years after Albert’s first visit to Ireland to see his girlfriend, Kathleen, and his nephew. Jonah is approaching his third birthday and nothing has yet been resolved between Albert and Kathleen.

Albert was supposed to be coming over shortly for Jonah’s birthday. Kathleen wonders whether he’ll propose after all this time. She hopes that he won’t because she’s not sure that she still wants to marry him. She plans to have a serious talk with him this time. She won’t leave Ireland and if he isn’t prepared to live with her in Ireland, then where’s the point in carrying on?

They’d hardly spent any time with each other over the years and she hadn’t seen him for five months. His letters were becoming few and far between now – he always had too much on. He hadn’t come over for Christmas or for her twenty-first birthday. His excuse was that he needed to save for a better van. To add insult to injury, her birthday card came a week late and he didn’t send a present. Her parents noticed all this but maintained a diplomatic silence on the subject.

Jonah and Kathleen are now inseparable: he calls her Mammy. Business is booming. Some customers are now coming to the farm to buy directly and Kathleen sees an opportunity to serve them with tea and cakes, or lemonade for any children. This gives Jonah a chance to play with the children for an hour or so. All the locals know the story about the baby and think that Kathleen’s a saint.

James is really proud of his daughter. He also hopes that Veronica will never return. She’d have a fight on her hands if she tried to take Jonah now. He was amazed at Albert, wondering what was wrong with him. Anyway, Kathleen and her cousin Teresa were very close friends and had similar temperaments and sense of fun.

Teresa would be going to Dublin at the end of the month, and wanted Kathleen to go with her. Kathleen protested that there was Jonah and the business to look after, but Teresa told her that family had already been mobilised to do the necessary. Kathleen was really excited at the prospect.

Two days before Albert was due to visit for Jonah’s birthday, he wrote to say that his trip had to be postponed until the end of the month because the prospect of a big job had come up. The money was to good to pass up.

Kathleen was stunned and resolved to write to him to say that she wouldn’t be there because she’d already made other arrangements. She wouldn’t disappoint Teresa. She told her mam not to bother making up a bed for Albert. Maggie sat her down and asked her daughter how long she was going to put up with Albert’s behaviour. It was clear that Albert, having been brought up in poverty, was now making money his God. She asked Kathleen to compare her life in Ireland with what she’d have in St Helens. Kathleen thanked her mam and promised to write to him that afternoon – after she’d played with Jonah and her grandad in the garden.

Her letter to Albert was polite but pulled no punches. Kathleen expressed her disappointment in him; told him that Jonah hadn’t missed him at the party; there had been twenty-four people there, and all had enjoyed a wonderful time. She wrote how fortunate she felt to have such a supportive family around her, and now felt that she could never live anywhere else. She said that she was sure he felt the same, and that she was glad that no promises had been made. She let him know that she’d be going on a trip with her cousin, but that Jonah would be well looked after. She wished him well, but expressed her disappointment with Veronica. She promised though that she would keep in touch with him and his mother. She ended by wishing him well in his career and said that his family needn’t worry about Jonah – he was very happy where he was.

Tomorrow – a trip to Dublin’s fair city.

The featured photo today – and for the next few days – is of a different location in Ireland – the village of Eyeries near the north western coast of the Beara Peninsula in County Cork. The camera and is the same as in previous shots of Ireland in this series. The EXIF data are shutter speed 1/20 secs, aperture f/16, focal length 39 mm and ISO 400

A thought-provoking visit

We’re in July, 1955 and baby Jonah is four months old now, but there’s still been no word from Veronica, his mother, who abandoned him after leaving a letter asking Kathleen to care for him. Kathleen’s grateful for all the help she gets from uncles and aunts to help cope with the seemingly endless dirty nappies to wash. Jonah is also rapidly outgrowing his clothes, but again the family rallies around.

It’s as she’s hanging out some laundry that she notices Albert at the fence watching her and smiling with love in his eyes. She runs to him and he picks her up and swings her around. Her grandad comes out and tells her to put him down at once.

So, Albert now has a chance to renew his acquaintance with Kathleen and her family and to meet the rest of the clan. He also sees Jonah his nephew – his sister’s child – for the first time. They ask him about his job and he begins to learn about the burgeoning business being run by Kathleen, her grandad, and other members of the family.

He doesn’t seem to have much to say about any future that he and Kathleen might have together – just a lot about how hard he’s working to save money to develop his career. That night, he sleeps in the parlour leaving Kathleen puzzled as to why he hasn’t joined her in bed. Even though she knows that she wouldn’t want to leave Ireland and her family, she wonders whether he’ll be expecting her to move back to where his work is. If he really loved me, she’s thinking, there’s plenty work for builders in Ireland.

She considers, concluding that it isn’t as if he’s proposed or anything. He’d spoken about waiting two years – they were still young and it would give him time to get his business off the ground. After all, Veronica may have returned for the baby by that time.

That, of course worries her more than anything. She’s come to love Jonah. She wishes Veronica well but she doesn’t want to give Jonah back.

Albert stays for two weeks without either news about the missing mother or about plans for marriage. He seems convinced that Veronica will come back. He isn’t looking forward to going back to England without her, but he’ll come back to see her as soon as he can.

On the morning that he leaves, the family tell him that it had been nice to meet him and Kathleen drives him to the station. She has mixed feelings about his departure. She’s been so glad to see him but had been disappointed that things had not turned out as she’d hoped. They kiss before he boards his train but there wasn’t the same passion – and she shed no tears.

On her return from the station, Kathleen asks for a family gathering. They’re half expecting news of a proposal but she quashes that idea. She tells them that she’s decided that she’d like to adopt Jonah and wants their advice. Her Nan reminds her that she’s still only nineteen years old, that the baby already has a mother and that the law probably wouldn’t allow it. Her mother, however, fears that the authorities might take Jonah away as a foundling and put him up for adoption – that Veronica could be arrested for abandoning him and the family charged with concealment. Grandad advises her to do nothing: she has Veronica’s letter and the agreement of the baby’s grandmother and uncle. She thanks them for their advice and tells them that she’ll never leave Ireland – not even for Albert. Her grandad is moved to tears of happiness.

The following morning, her mam asks why Kathleen thinks that Albert hasn’t proposed. She tells her daughter that if he doesn’t get a move on someone else will beat him to it. She further advises Kathleen to start going out to enjoy her self with her cousins – that Veronica’s probably having a good time. She points out that she’s not engaged or anything; that she only has one life and should enjoy it. Kathleen asks where that would that leave Jonah. Her mam reminds her that there’s no shortage of babysitters in the family.

Tomorrow – Kathleen sends Albert a letter.

Today’s featured photo is the one that I promised yesterday of a different view of the rugged coastline at Allihies on the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Eire. Like the others in this Irish series, it was taken with my Pentax K3-ii 16 MP cropped sensor camera using a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens at 16 mm and f/11. The shutter speed was 1/15 secs and the ISO was 100.

A baby is born and abandoned

Continuing my post about my wife’s book which I’m proof reading at the moment……

We left the story yesterday at the point where Kathleen is taking her pregnant friend Veronica back to Wexford with her. You may remember that Veronica’s mother, Betty, has told the feckless father that the baby has miscarried, so that he can be persuaded to cancel the planned wedding.

The trip back across the Irish Sea began with Albert, who loves Kathleen, accompanying them to Liverpool’s Pierhead to see the girls off safely. They are welcomed, as they arrive back, by Kathleen’s mam and dad, Maggie and James. Kathleen is desperate to get back to her Irish home to see her beloved nan and grandad, Sheila and Michael. She’s been worrying about her grandad, but he’s fine and overjoyed to see her back.

In the short time Kathleen and her parents had been living with them, her granddad had come to love her more than anyone else than his wife, Sheila. As soon as she was back home she went out into the garden to see him, and flung her arms around him. He asked her about Veronica and she explained the situation. He tells her that her friend is welcome to stay, but it won’t be up to him for much longer because James – his son-in-law and Kathleen’s dada – will be buying the house. One day, he tells Kathleen, it will be yours. She wants to know that he’ll still be living there with her nan and gets the reassurance she seeks.

Veronica shares a room with Kathleen and helps out with the family business of selling eggs, cakes and the piglets they now breed. Kathleen has become well known and liked in the community, but doesn’t take on any of the local lads who fancy her. She worries what Veronica will do once the baby is born.

The following March, Veronica’s waters break early one Tuesday morning, and she is doubled-up with pain. Kathleen wakes and rouses the rest of the family. Her dada drives off to ask the local midwife for help. In the meantime, Kathleen and her Mum assist her nan who has delivered babies before and knows what to do. The midwife arrives just as the baby is born.

The eight pound-two ounces baby boy is born healthy, with the red hair of Veronica’s dada. His mammy decides that he’ll be called John James after her dada and Kathleen’s. Having heard the baby’s loud wail, James gives him the nickname Jonah. Kathleen’s wider Irish family rally round and provide cast-off clothing, blankets, nappies, a cot and a pram. Veronica seems overcome by all this kindness but is also delighted that the child looks nothing like his father.

Kathleen lets Veronica’s Mum know about the birth and spends as much time as Veronica bathing and bottle-feeding Jonah. However, within a month of the birth, Veronica seems to lose interest in her baby. Kathleen is worried and asks her Mum for advice. Maggie tells her not to worry; it’s ‘baby blues’ and will pass. Veronica’s family send money for her to come home, but a few days later, Veronica says that she’d like to catch the bus into Wexford city ‘to sort something out at the post-office’. No one notices that the bag she carries is bigger than would be expected.

That night, when she fails to return, Kathleen and her mum visit the bus driver who says that he hasn’t seen her since he dropped her off at the bus station in Wexford. When they get back, Kathleen goes up to check Veronica’s room. Her clothes have gone and she’s left a note asking Kathleen to look after Jonah for her as she can’t cope. She can’t return to St Helens but feels that Kathleen can offer Jonah a better life than she’ll ever be able to. She’s seen how Kathleen loves the child and is sure that Jonah will come to see and love her as his mammy.

Kathleen sends a telegram to Albert explaining the situation. After three weeks without hearing from his sister, he writes to Kathleen to say that he’ll be coming out to see her. She’s disappointed that Veronica has not even contacted her mother – surely she could afford a stamp.

Jonah is growing to be a good and contented baby. Kathleen has grown to really love him and he’s smiling at her now. She fears that she’ll be heartbroken when Veronica comes to her senses and decides to reclaim him. She wonders how long to leave things before she applies for adoption and how to tell a child that his mother didn’t want him.

Tomorrow, Albert travels to Ireland.

Today’s featured photo is another in this series accompanying the Irish theme. It’s another that I took in Allihies on the Beara Peninsula in County Cork while on holiday. As with all the others, I took it with my Pentax K3-ii camera. The shot is one I shot of the rugged coastline there. Tomorrow’s photo will be one that I took looking in a different direction.

The EXIF data are 1/15 secs, f/16, 16 mm and ISO 200.