The late Nuala O Faolain was the subject of a very warm tribute in The New York Times editorial page this week after her untimely death in Dublin.
O Faolain was "fearless even when she insisted she wasn't," was the opening remark by Maura J. Casey, and that summed up Nuala very well.
She worked out of the Irish Voice offices for a brief period in the 1980s when she was in New York prospecting for stories and for the book career she would later embark on so successfully.
It was during the time she was still in a relationship with fellow writer Nell McCafferty, and the two were very clearly in love.
Nuala was the least affected writer you could ever meet. Indeed, she evinced a lack of confidence that was quite staggering given her unique gifts.
She had an almost Colombo-like ability to stumble across the big stories, to grab the necessary quote that others missed, to see the point of an argument that no one else grasped.
Above all, she was able to communicate all that in clear, direct prose that so many Irish writers eschew in favor of a more florid style. With O Faolain you knew what you were getting.
She was an unlikely heroine to a generation of women in Ireland, a product of a very bad alcoholic father and a mother who was deeply depressed. She wrote very movingly about her early life in her memoir Are You Somebody?.
The surprise success of that book launched her on an international career, and she was truly enjoying the fruits of her labor in her beloved New York when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer here just a few months ago.
She faced it with great courage and determination. Her interview on the Marian Finucane show on RTE, Ireland's national radio broadcaster, where she calmly discussed her terminal illness and her decision not to take any chemotherapy, is a remarkable testament to her bravery in the face of death. She will be missed.
THE continued incarceration of former IRA member Pol Brennan in Texas is sending a bad signal about the future intentions of the Department of Homeland Security when it comes to ex-IRA detainees in America.
Brennan, who escaped from the Maze prison in Northern Ireland in 1983, made his way to America and was arrested here. He was later part of the amnesty deal surrounding the peace process which allowed former IRA members to live essentially on continuing parole over here.
Brennan, however, who was arrested recently at a Texas checkpoint while on vacation with his wife, is now being held in alleged violation of that parole, as he was involved in a misdemeanor incident involving an argument at work.
It appears that the DHS is determined to state he is no longer on parole and should be deported. The worst news is that there appears to be a move afoot within DHS to also re-categorize the other IRA men who took advantage of the parole provisions to come forward.
Some DHS figures are saying that because they are no longer in danger of being killed because the Troubles are over, those people should also be sent back. It has become increasingly difficult for many of them to secure their working papers every year, as they have to do.