With both joy and sorrow, can I report to you all that Annet and I no longer own Maisie's cottage because one of your readers bought it from us last month following the Irish Voice column in which we offered the beautiful old thatched cottage for sale exclusively to ye in March.
The response was incredible. There were even expressions of interest from as far away as Thailand and Australia, and that is a thundering tribute to the reach and readership of the Irish Voice and, of course, IrishCentral. Thanks to all of you who responded.
My life and times, because of this trade, is an open book. But, naturally enough, I am not at liberty to disclose details of the identity of the big man who will be sitting in the corner of Maisie's where I am sitting now in a matter of a few weeks. All I will say is that he is an extremely witty and honorable Irishman who has been living in the states for many years and who will be a better neighbor to our former neighbors than I have ever been.
He is a longtime reader of the Irish Voice. He is now our friend, we have drunk strong whiskey and sung stronger songs together in several good pubs locally including, naturally, the Honk, and though he is now back in his American home for the time being, he has already slept soundly under Maisie's thatched roof and was issued with a key to the front door long before the legal eagles involved had concluded their business.
He will also issue us with a key to the door when we depart and we will be welcome back any time, and we will return the favor to him and his clan when we eventually (hopefully very soon) become owners of a new Yale lock in a town house in gentle Killaloe about 15 minutes away from the Dutch Nation's new workplace. And we will still be in Co. Clare too!
I do not want to write at all about the next subject, which has dominated the Irish headlines for the past fortnight. It is the horrific discovery of the little bodies of many hundreds of babies in Tuam on the grounds of a former home run by nuns for unmarried mothers of the past century in holy Catholic Ireland. Some of them were apparently found in an old septic tank.
And the Tuam scenario, as we have since discovered, was replicated elsewhere to a greater or lesser extent.
As a government investigation is launched against a developing background of incredibly high infant mortality rates in such homes and some truly savage regimes directed against the mothers and their innocent little ones, the entire nation shudders at the emerging parameters of a scandal equivalent to anything that occurred in Nazi Germany.
What I have to say is that the finger of blame will be pointed at agencies of church and state when the official investigation is over and what is certain to be a shocking report emerges.
But it is appallingly also the truth that the Irish society of which I am a part has also been complicit in what happened.
I grew up in a rural world where folk whispered behind their hands about Mary or Bridie being "in trouble" and having fled to England or, more likely, to one of the harsh homes behind high stone walls.
We were complicit in reinforcing the stigma surrounding single mothers and their families. In an unforgiving way we are almost as guilty as any of the agencies directly involved.
And, with real shame, as a working journalist based in the same county as Tuam, Galway, I feel so terribly ashamed that I was writing largely lighthearted wit and whimsy when probably unbaptized weak little babies were being disposed of in septic tanks and unmarked graves.
May The Lord forgive us all. We are all guilty, we who were there when it was happening.