I was lucky enough to be interviewed recently about ‘Crossing the Water’ by Stephen Patrick Clare, the editor of Celtic Life International, a major North American magazine. His questions helped me to define what had inspired the book (see ‘interviews‘ on this website for a transcript).
My generation (and that of my children, and hopefully their children) are very lucky, living in times of relative peace, prosperity and stability. But right through my life, I have had jaw-dropping moments listening to what the two generations before me went through to make our world what it is. They were all modest, often reluctant to tell you what they’d been through in their childhood, through the great depression, and the Second World War. They would tell their stories in a matter-of fact way, as if it was nothing, and you’d be thinking, my God… so, a whole series of jaw-dropping moments inspired “Crossing the Water”. And all of them are true stories, some from my family and other true stories taken from oral histories of those times.
From a British and North American perspective, that ‘special generation’ is the one whose sacrifice kept us free in World War Two. From an Irish perspective, that generation were children at the time that Ireland won the War of Independence. The tragedy for Ireland was that so many of that generation were lost, forced to leave their homeland in the aftermath of the civil war and what followed. Imagining the details of life for that generation was at times very moving and left me overwhelmed with respect for what they had endured.
So the book is an elegy to that special and lost generation; I like to think of it as action-packed Irish version of Midnight’s Children…