Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Irish Country Girl

An Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor

This is the story of Kinky Kincaid, a housekeeper for two doctors in the northern Irish town of Ballybucklebo. Kinky was born Maureen O’Hanlon to a farmer and grew up in the county of Cork far to the south.

It is Christmas afternoon when Kinky gathers a group of children into the lounge for a story about her adolescence. It all started the year she was fourteen on a wintry day. Connor MacTaggart, their neighbour had helped with a sheep instead of hauling in more peat to keep himself warm. Connor was 'seeing' Maureen's sister Fidelma. Instead of accepting some peat from the O'Hanlons and being 'beholden' to them Connor decides to cut down a blackthorn tree. Mrs. O'Hanlon warns him to appease the Banshee and not cut the tree down or he will be cursed.

Of course Connor doesn't believe in fairies, dark or otherwise and cuts the tree down and immediately is beleaguered by a vixen, a spider and the cry of the Banshee. All this leads to Connor's death on the Feast of Steven or Boxing Day. Fidelma is devastated but Maureen starts hearing Connor's pipes and even starts seeing his ghost. Her mother who also has the sight helps her though this terrifying experience and Maureen eventually accepts her gift.

The second half of the story Kinky relates as she is cooking the Christmas dinner. She reminisces about a time 2 years past the incident with Connor. She thinks about her aspirations and her passions and how torn she was between the two. Maureen wanted to get her Leaver's Certificate and become a teacher but she fell in love with a man who did not want his wife to work. In the midst of all this angst were the insights into the future she would occasionally get. What did it all mean? Would she follow her heart or her head?

An Irish Country Girl is part of the Irish Country series but can be read stand-alone. I very much enjoyed Patrick Taylor's story-telling. Pull up a blanket and a cup of tea and prepare to be mesmerized and charmed.

First Line: ""Run along, make your calls, and enjoy His Lordship's hooley," said Mrs. Maureen Kincaid, "Kinky" to her friends, as she knelt in the hall and sponged Ribena black-currant cordial from a small boy's tweed overcoat."



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