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

Leave a Reply