Elizabeth Boyle was born in Clooncholry near Dromod Leitrim in 1905. Her mother was Theresa Memnagh of Mohil.
She lived through the War of Independence and the Civil War, often recounting how she danced with the charismatic Michael Collins.
As a young woman she wrote a semi-autobiographical novel and later added a preamble as a mature woman returning to reflect on the place of her youth. She tried to get her writings published, but it never happened.
Now, a hundred years later, Elizabeth’s great-niece and former Wicklow Times reporter Mary Marmion (O’Sullivan) made the dream come true by self-publishing the manuscript.
Mary Marmion (O’Sullivan) self-published the manuscript
Mary has painstakingly reconstructed the novel titled “Beyond the Hazel Bridge” and it is a feast for the senses. It is a firsthand account of the life of a young girl and her community in rural Ireland in the 1920s that draws the reader into the subterfuge and drama of the era while seeking solace in the nature that surrounds it.
Her descriptions of the campaign and of her beloved Shannon leave no doubt that the tale takes place in her home.
It was the era of Black and Tan and the Flying Columns. Old friends and neighbors distrust each other, doubting their allegiances and fearing that whispers will lead to violent retaliation.
In the rural Midlands, the Glynn family is drawn deeper into uncertainty and subterfuge.
Sally, the heroine, is secretly in love with Peter, a young Protestant childhood friend who fought alongside his brothers in the Easter Rising. But the sands have changed since then and Peter has joined the British Army.
Now Sally and her family are under suspicion by British forces and the IRA, both quick to retaliate against civilians who ignore the warnings.
Sally becomes politicized and is drawn in different directions from her brothers. They are forced to choose between loyalty to their families and their country and their hearts.
Drawing on military service pension claims and statements and newspaper articles from the time, Mary Marmion’s introduction places the narrative in the historical context of the time after which Ireland would never be again. the same.
“Beyond Hazel Bridge” is a book of its time as we commemorate a painful period in our history.
‘Beyond Hazel Bridge’ is available in The Reading Room at Carrick on Shannon and at www.amazon.de and signed copies from [email protected]