Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview with author Frank Parker


Welcome to the Open House Sunday Interview, and my guest this week is author Frank Parker. Frank will be sharing something of his childhood, special guest for dinner, a delicious sounding lamb roast and some delightful music from Jazz singer Clare Teal.

About Frank Parker

I’m Frank Parker and I am a writer. I didn’t used to be. Like many people I always wanted to be. On several occasions during my career as an Engineer I produced stories that I submitted to publishers. I even had a writing job once. It involved talking to small and medium sized businesses and writing up profiles for a regional business magazine. To make any money you had to sell advertising to accompany the articles. Selling is not a skill that comes naturally to me so that job did not last long.

I returned to Engineering, working on chemical plants, refineries and power stations throughout the North and Midlands of England. In 1997 I joined a defence contractor as a project administrator, a job that saw me through until retirement in the autumn of 2006. I came to live in the Irish Midlands so as to be near my son and his family. And, now at last, I have the freedom to write.

Novels

So far I’ve self-published 4 novels and two collections of short stories. You can find out more about them here. My stories have also appeared in anthologies published independently in County Laois.

Politics

I have also pursued a lifelong interest in politics. Between 1985 and 1991 I served as a councilor in North East Lincolnshire. So you should not be surprised to find posts on my blog commenting on current affairs from a broadly Liberal point of view. The environment and the damage we are doing to it, from agri-chemicals and air and water pollution to climate change, has always been a matter of concern to me. As a councilor I argued the case for the local authority to purchase timber products only from sustainable sources.

History

Since 2013 I have been studying Irish history in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the turbulent relationship between that country and its near neighbour. It began when I discovered that among the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century were a number of individuals with a prior connection to the county in which I was born and grew up, Herefordshire. That discovery lies behind my historical novel Strongbow’s Wife which describes the invasion and its aftermath from the point of the view of the woman who married one of the most powerful of those leaders. You will find articles about some of the people and places involved by clicking the Hereford and Ireland History tab above.

For the past year I have been researching the background to the period in Irish history usually referred to as The Great Irish Famine. This work was prompted by a friend and together we hope to produce a book on the subject.

We will find out more about Frank’s books after he has been in the hot seat and answered his chosen questions.

Welcome to the open house Frank and can you tell us where were you born and something about  your childhood memories.

I was born in Hereford. My parents were Londoners; Dad was serving with the RAF and Mum worked in Air Raid Precautions as well as being a tailor working for Simpsons of Picadily in their Stoke Newington factory. In the summer of 1941 she was expecting me so she and her widowed Mum were evacuated. She chose Herefordshire because a decade before she had holidayed there. After a year of living in various shared houses, in the spring of 1942 they found a stone built cottage to let high in the hills above the Golden Valley in the west of the county. It was to become our home for the next 14 years.

A stream ran behind the cottage with a couple of steep waterfalls in a deep ravine. Five small meadows and an orchard surrounded it. The owner used these to graze cattle through the autumn and into spring – in bad weather the animals were housed in a stone built block, the gable end of which faced the cottage across a cobbled yard. In late spring the cattle would be taken to market and the grass left to grow to be harvested for hay in July. This was a traditional rich mixture of grass and wild flowers and provided the winter feed for the cattle. It was stored in a ‘Dutch Barn’ – a steel structure with a curved corrugated steel roof – beyond the cattle sheds.

For me, growing up this set up appeared idyllic. Dad was killed in action shortly after my second birthday and, two and a half years later, Mum gave birth to a baby girl. I suspect that her arrival was one of several factors that stymied Mum’s chances of returning to London after the war. But for me and my sister, having the run of five acres of meadows, a stream and the gable end of the cattle shed to bounce balls from, was close to paradise. The cottage and its surroundings are the setting for my novel Summer Day.

I came to realise much too late that for my mother it was a lonely and isolated existence, especially after her mother died in February 1948.

In 1952, having passed the 11+ examination, I was sent away to a boarding school in Surrey. By the time I completed my education six years later, Mum had taken up with a local man, had two more daughters and set up home in an old house they bought in the village. A lot of hard work went into modernising and adapting that house and I was a, sometimes reluctant, labourer on many DIY projects whilst working as an apprentice in an Engineering business in Hereford.

Both the cottage and the house had large gardens where we grew most of our own fruit and vegetables. As a consequence I acquired a life long love of gardening.

Which author would you have to dinner, why and what questions would you ask them?

I would love to have the late Herbert George Wells as a dinner guest. I had already read several of his science fiction works by the time The History of Mr Polly was chosen as one of the set books for the Cambridge GCE ‘O’ level English Literature examination in 1958. I loved that book and could readily identify with the young man and his life as an apprentice to a trade he had no interest in, his loveless marriage and his escape to a very different life which, nevertheless, does not fully live up to his expectations.

But Wells was much more than a novelist; he was a Socialist and advocate of social reform and the creation of a progressive world government, all ideas that I have espoused myself.

I would love to know what he makes of the real social, political and technological advances of the seven decades since his death. What, for example, does he make of the United Nations as a forum for addressing the world’s problems? How would he rate various United States presidents or British prime ministers? How would he view recent incarnations of the British Labour Party: Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ or Jeremy Corbyn’s attachment to left of centre policies?

Would he be disappointed by the failure to close the gap between rich and poor, exhilarated by the advent of ‘smart’ technology and instant international communication, dismayed by the continuing ignorance of large sectors of the population?

In truth it would take many more than one dinner engagement to explore the mind of this great man of letters, a true polymath who thought deeply about science, politics, economics and philosophy, and wrote prolifically about them all.

What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favourite musicians?

I do not have a record collection. I listen to whatever happens to be on the radio – and mostly that means my local commercial radio station here in the Irish Midlands and an elelctic mixture of old and new popular music. I love live music, too, and I don’t mind if the artiste is a well established celebrity performer, a young person just starting out, or an established amateur performer. My taste ranges across all the genres that have been popular at various times during the last 60 years: folk, rock, blues, country, soul . . . It also embraces all of the many singer/song writers who have found fame and fortune over the same period.

But my first and continuing love is for jazz. The first live concert I ever attended was in the summer of 1957 at what was then the Gaumont State Theatre in Kilburn. The concert party was a group styled ‘Jazz at the Philharmonic’ and featured Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and Oscar Peterson, among others. Ella Fiztgerald topped the bill and took about a dozen curtain calls. This was at the start of Fitzgerald’s move away from Be-Bop into swing and the standards of the Great American Songbook. The first of a series of albums she produced with Norman Granz (who also manged the JATP tours) at his Verve records, this one featuring the songs of Cole Porter, was released the previous year.

As for a favourite piece of music – I guess anything from that era would do or you could play something by one of the greatest modern re-interpreters of the music, Clare Teal. I first saw her perform at a small venue in East Yorkshire about 15 years ago – around the time she was ‘discovered’ by Michael Parkinson, whose Sunday evening radio show she eventually took over. Here is Clare Teal with ‘Chasing Cars’ live at the Lichfield Festival in 2014. You can find her music: Clare Teal Amazon

If you cook do you have a signature dish that everyone loves to eat? Can we have the recipe?

I love to cook. I do most of the cooking in our house; not, however, the baking. Cakes and pastries are Mrs P’s department and she excels. I like cooking spicy casseroles and Indian style dishes. Here’s my recipe for a spicy lamb roast.

  • Take a small to medium sized joint of lamb, leg or shoulder will do.
  • Make a spice mix – use your own favourites and vary the quantity to suit your taste and that of your guests. I use cumin and coriander for the base, preferably whole seeds, a tea spoon of each, heated gently in a frying pan to bring out the aromas, then crushed in a pestle and mortar along with 3 or 4 cloves and a piece of cinnamon. Add oil – I use rape seed oil, but olive oil is good too – to make a paste.
  • Pierce the surface of the joint in several places and push in slivers of garlic and rosemary leaves then massage the paste into the surface and leave to stand for about an hour.
  • Meanwhile peel and chop a couple of medium onions – again, the quantity can be varied to suit your taste – peel and grate a two inch piece of ginger and chop a small red or green chilly. Once again adjust this or leave out altogether if you don’t like too much heat.
  • Sweat the onion with a little oil for ten minutes in the base of a large pan, add the ginger and chopped chilly. Now place the marinaded joint into the pan and cover with stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about two hours until the meat is starting to fall off the joint. Lift the joint and cover with foil whilst you strain and thicken the pan liquor to make a sauce.
  • Slice the joint and serve with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Tell us about your work in progress.

My current work in progress is a historical novel based on the two and a half years that Captain (later Sir) Arthur Kennedy spent as Poor Law Inspector in the town and district of Kilrush in County Clare during the famine.He came to despise the actions of some of the land owners in the area who were evicting large numbers of their tenants, thereby increasing their dependence upon the relief provided by the poor law, whilst at the same time controlling the amount of money available for relief, by their refusal to pay sufficient taxes.

Books by Frank Parker

The latest book by Frank Parker released on November 17th 2017.

About the book

A layman’s guide to the worst man made disaster to afflict Great Britain, it’s causes and lessons for the future.

Whilst the British elites were celebrating the achievements of Empire, a million people died from lack of food and housing elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Is it possible for humanity to achieve the Liberal ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number or are Malthus’s predictions about the relationship between population and food production about to come true?

A recent review for the book

This is a deeply researched and well-written book. I was expecting it to focus almost entirely on the famine years. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it covers much broader topics which help to put the famine into historical, political, social, economic and religious perspective. Indeed, a full eight chapters are devoted to “setting the scene”. There’s even a fascinating chapter on nutrition and mental development.

The actual famine is broken down into four chapters as the crisis begins, develops, peaks and then wanes. At the end is an interesting summary giving the author’s personal view on the disaster, and on the continuing presence of famine in the world today.

A Purgatory of Misery is worthy of attention for anyone interested in European history. It gives a broad sweep of history, from way before the famine up to and then beyond those famine years. And it presents what seems to me to be a well-balanced account that does not take sides or inappropriately point the finger of blame.

A full review including an interview with the author is on thebookowl.com

Read the reviews and buy the books:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7834486.Frank_Parker

Connect to Frank

Blog/website: https://franklparker.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerefordAndIrelandHistory/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fparkerswords

My thanks to Frank for sharing his memories and music with us and I know he would love to receive your feedback. Thank you for dropping by.. Sally

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – The Herefordshire Contingent – #1 de Lacy by Frank Parker


It is time for the final post from Frank Parker’s archive and I am sure, that like me, you have enjoyed learning more about Irish History.

The Herefordshire Contingent – #1 de Lacy by Frank Parker

The name de Lacy provides one of the strongest links between Herefordshire and Ireland. In Herefordshire it continues in place names like Holme Lacy and Mansell Lacy. A large area immediately to the west of the parish in which I grew up was once called Ewyas Lacy.

The family were granted large areas of Herefordshire and Shropshire by William the Conqueror and remained close and favoured allies of the Norman kings. Hugh de Lacy accompanied Henry II to Ireland in the autumn of 1171 and was granted the “Lordship of Meath”. Meath at that time encompassed the modern Irish counties of Meath and Westmeath, as well as parts of Dublin, Kildare, Cavan, Offaly, Louth and Longford.

Most commentators believe this was done, at least in part, to provide a counter to Strongbow’s ambitions in Leinster. Both Strongbow and Dermot MacMurrough had ambitions to expand beyond its traditional boundaries.

Support for the king

In 1173/4 both de Lacy and Strongbow were summoned to support Henry II in subduing a rebellion by his sons in Aquitaine. By all accounts both acquitted themselves well in the ensuing battles. However, whilst they were absent from Ireland the Irish chieftains took advantage and the two knights found on their return that they had to fight to reclaim the lands previously taken.

Trim Castle; one of several castles commenced by Hugh de Lacy

Trim Castle; one of several castles commenced by Hugh de Lacy

De Lacy, who already had a number of castles in Herefordshire, set about securing his lordship of Meath by building castles across the region. The largest of these was at Trim but there were many smaller castles established by de Lacy. According to the website http://navanhistory.ie/  these included Castle Dermot, Leighlin, Leix, Delvin, Carlow, Tullaghphelim, and Kilkay.

It was castle building that was to become his undoing. One of the castles for which he was responsible was at Durrow in County Offaly. It was built on the site of a former Abbey and the construction of a castle on the sacred site was not popular with the native Irish.

Whilst Hugh was supervising building work there in July 1186 he was decapitated by an Irish man posing as a labourer but who had a battle axe concealed in his clothing.

Two wives

Hugh had two wives (not simultaneously), both called Rose. His first wife, Rose of Monmouth, was a cousin of Strongbow. With her he had nine children, 5 sons and 4 daughters. Following her death he married Rose Ni Connor, the daughter of Rory O’Connor the High King of Ireland. She gave him a son and a daughter. Henry II did not approve of this marriage, declared the first child “illegitimate” and stripped Hugh of the role of governor of Ireland which the king had granted to him following Strongbow’s death. His disgrace lasted only for a year however and in the winter of 1182 he was back in place; this time jointly with Robert of Shrewsbury.

Like most men of his background de Lacy endowed religious communities and buildings. He was a benefactor of Llanthony Priory and several churches in Ireland, including the Abbey at Trim. Following Hugh senior’s death his sons Walter and Hugh continued his work in Ireland. Hugh Jr. had no children and Walter only one son. Walter’s grandson, also Walter, was the last in the male line. His female descendents included one who married Robert the Bruce and another who married a Mortimer, a family that not only inherited a portion of the de Lacy lands in Herefordshire but provides another strong link between that county and Ireland.

©FrankParker

A huge thank you to Frank Parker for his fascinating series on Irish History. I lived in Meath for five years before we moved to Spain and the county is full of ancient and more modern historical sites.

About Frank Parker

I’m Frank Parker and I am a writer. I didn’t used to be. Like many people I always wanted to be. On several occasions during my career as an Engineer I produced stories that I submitted to publishers. I even had a writing job once. It involved talking to small and medium sized businesses and writing up profiles for a regional business magazine. To make any money you had to sell advertising to accompany the articles. Selling is not a skill that comes naturally to me so that job did not last long.

I returned to Engineering, working on chemical plants, refineries and power stations throughout the North and Midlands of England. In 1997 I joined a defence contractor as a project administrator, a job that saw me through until retirement in the autumn of 2006. I came to live in the Irish Midlands so as to be near my son and his family. And, now at last, I have the freedom to write.

Novels
So far I’ve self-published 4 novels and two collections of short stories. You can find out more about them here. My stories have also appeared in anthologies published independently in County Laois.

Politics

I have also pursued a lifelong interest in politics. Between 1985 and 1991 I served as a councilor in North East Lincolnshire. So you should not be surprised to find posts on my blog commenting on current affairs from a broadly Liberal point of view. The environment and the damage we are doing to it, from agri-chemicals and air and water pollution to climate change, has always been a matter of concern to me. As a councilor I argued the case for the local authority to purchase timber products only from sustainable sources.

History

Since 2013 I have been studying Irish history in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the turbulent relationship between that country and its near neighbour. It began when I discovered that among the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century were a number of individuals with a prior connection to the county in which I was born and grew up, Herefordshire. That discovery lies behind my historical novel Strongbow’s Wife which describes the invasion and its aftermath from the point of the view of the woman who married one of the most powerful of those leaders. You will find articles about some of the people and places involved by clicking the Hereford and Ireland History tab above.

For the past year I have been researching the background to the period in Irish history usually referred to as The Great Irish Famine. This work was prompted by a friend and together we hope to produce a book on the subject.

Books by Frank Parker

The latest book by Frank Parker released on November 17th 2017.

About the book

A layman’s guide to the worst man made disaster to afflict Great Britain, it’s causes and lessons for the future.

Whilst the British elites were celebrating the achievements of Empire, a million people died from lack of food and housing elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Is it possible for humanity to achieve the Liberal ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number or are Malthus’s predictions about the relationship between population and food production about to come true?

A recent review for the book

It is 1843 and Ireland is suffering as a result of the potato famine.

I’d always known there was a famine, but had never appreciated the true extent of the wretchedness it caused, or the manner in which it was exacerbated by the English authorities.

The infestation of the crop was devastating enough for the citizens of Ireland, but the situation was made much worse by sheer carelessness and selfishness of those in charge, driven by the greed and the thirst for power.

Once again the human race demonstrates hypocrisy and shows its ugly primal instincts, from the aristocracy controlling who owns what to government interventions designed only to benefit themselves and the better off.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, the stricken were emigrating in order to save themselves while others died of starvation, some even resorting to the pickings of a corpse in desperation.
How did all this come to pass? The book describes a combination of events, not least a catalogue of wars which were sometimes deliberately fomented to cause destruction. Religion, disease, greed and human suffering all played a part, not to mention an innate English sense of superiority and a land-grabbing attitude. Indeed, in the nineteenth century the bigotry of the English towards their closest neighbours was as pronounced as that towards the African ‘natives’ who were being similarly subjugated by Empire, as reflected in the comments of George Nichols, a Poor Law commissioner.

A Purgatory of Misery is an interesting and informative examination of a period in Ireland’s history which we all really ought to know about, but about which most people, myself included, are sadly ignorant.

Even some of my Irish friends knew little about the famine when I told them what I was reading, which I felt was rather sad.

This is a well-written and well-researched piece of history, although I suspect some people would rather not know about it. However, although ignorance might be bliss, knowledge is power.

If you have an interest history, and whether you are Irish or not, this book will be an eye opener from both a factual and a humanitarian point of view..

Read the reviews and buy the books:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7834486.Frank_Parker

Connect to Frank

Blog/website: https://franklparker.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerefordAndIrelandHistory/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fparkerswords

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Henry II’s Irish Expedition by Frank Parker


Welcome back to Frank Parker for the continuation of his archive post series.  This week Henry II arrives in Waterford in 1171…another event in this historical city’s history (not least being the Cronin ancestral home).

Henry II’s Irish Expedition by Frank Parker

Henry arrived in Waterford on the 17th or 18th of October 1171 with large fleet of ships loaded with men, horses and supplies.

The extent of the preparations made for the expedition leave us in no doubt that Henry took the whole enterprise extremely seriously. More than two years had elapsed since Strongbow’s arrival. The latter had firmly established his writ over Leinster and the Norse cities of Dublin, Wexford and Waterford and seemed intent on expanding into Meath. From Henry’s point of view this was far beyond the original remit of Strongbow’s own expedition to restore Dermot to the kingship of Leinster, threatening the possible establishment of a rival kingdom.

Henry had already issued an instruction to Strongbow and all those who had accompanied him to return and to all shipping to stop carrying supplies across the Irish Sea. Strongbow had remonstrated with the king, in person at a meeting in Newnham, Gloucestershire as well as in letters, surrendering all his “conquered lands” to the king.

Well supplied invasion force

It was too late. Preparations were already well under way. In his book The Lordship of Ireland in the Middle Ages, James Lydon quotes at length from the English pipe rolls of the time describing the vast quantities of supplies that accompanied the king in some 400 ships:

Enormous quantities of wheat and oats … with a supply of hand-mills for milling flour while on the move. Beans, salt, cheese and a vast amount of bacon … Cloth in large quantities was supplied for the troops … coarse grey woollen cloth suitable for the dampness of an Irish winter. But the king was expected to dress in better finery … 25 ells of scarlet cloth, 26 ells of green, 12 pieces of silk cloth, 2 skins of mountain cats and 5 otter skins.” There was also an “enormous quantity of timber and nails” as well as “axes spades and pickaxes … in great numbers.”

With the king came around 500 knights and 4,000 others, mostly archers. As things turned out not an arrow was fired. The size of the force was sufficient to intimidate the majority of Irish kings who submitted to Henry without a fight. Perhaps they trusted him to restrain Strongbow and leave them to look after their own affairs in his name. More probably they did what they had always done in their disputes with each other – made promises they had no intention of keeping.

Leading role for Herefordshire magnates

The man Henry chose to curb Strongbow’s power was Hugh de Lacy. De Lacy already had extensive land holdings in Herefordshire as did two other senior members of Henry’s party – the brothers Philip and William de Braose. By placing these men in charge of territories adjacent to Leinster Henry hoped to limit Strongbow’s scope for expansion.

But Henry had another motive for his expedition. In the aftermath of his long running dispute with Thomas Becket which had ended with the latter’s murder in Canterbury cathedral at the end of 1170 he needed something to placate an angry Pope. He knew that the Pope disapproved of the direction taken by the Church in Ireland and wanted it brought back into line with Roman tradition. The first place Henry visited after disembarking at Waterford was Lismore. This was the home of the Papal legate in Ireland and it is clear from subsequent events that the subject of Church reform was discussed at this meeting.

Dublin “take over” by Bristol

Henry remained in Ireland until Easter 1172. There is no record of how many of the 4500 men that accompanied him remained behind. Certainly he established garrisons in a number of places and he granted the citizens of Bristol the right to inhabit Dublin. The rolls for that city from the end of the twelfth century suggest that men from Bristol and elsewhere in England did so. Nevertheless it seems inevitable that the major part of the army assembled for this expedition returned to their English homes in the spring and summer of 1172.

Over the following year Strongbow and de Lacy consolidated their respective positions in Leinster and Meath, building castles and granting land to English tenants. Meanwhile Henry’s sons were in open rebellion back in Normandy and, in 1173, Strongbow, de Lacy and most of the garrison personnel were called to the King’s aid in response. Not surprisingly, the Irish took advantage of this weakening of the foreigners’ defences so that when they returned they found, according to Giraldus, “almost all the princes of that country in open revolt against the king”.

Raymond le Gros: guilty of massacring Irish men and women

Strongbow had now gained the king’s favour and was made chief governor with Raymond fitz Gerald aka le Gros as his deputy. This is the man who had led the massacre of the citizens of Waterford in August 1170 and he now embarked on a vicious campaign of suppression.

©FrankParker 2015

About Frank Parker

I’m Frank Parker and I am a writer. I didn’t used to be. Like many people I always wanted to be. On several occasions during my career as an Engineer I produced stories that I submitted to publishers. I even had a writing job once. It involved talking to small and medium sized businesses and writing up profiles for a regional business magazine. To make any money you had to sell advertising to accompany the articles. Selling is not a skill that comes naturally to me so that job did not last long.

I returned to Engineering, working on chemical plants, refineries and power stations throughout the North and Midlands of England. In 1997 I joined a defence contractor as a project administrator, a job that saw me through until retirement in the autumn of 2006. I came to live in the Irish Midlands so as to be near my son and his family. And, now at last, I have the freedom to write.

Novels
So far I’ve self-published 4 novels and two collections of short stories. You can find out more about them here. My stories have also appeared in anthologies published independently in County Laois.

Politics

I have also pursued a lifelong interest in politics. Between 1985 and 1991 I served as a councilor in North East Lincolnshire. So you should not be surprised to find posts on my blog commenting on current affairs from a broadly Liberal point of view. The environment and the damage we are doing to it, from agri-chemicals and air and water pollution to climate change, has always been a matter of concern to me. As a councilor I argued the case for the local authority to purchase timber products only from sustainable sources.

History

Since 2013 I have been studying Irish history in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the turbulent relationship between that country and its near neighbour. It began when I discovered that among the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century were a number of individuals with a prior connection to the county in which I was born and grew up, Herefordshire. That discovery lies behind my historical novel Strongbow’s Wife which describes the invasion and its aftermath from the point of the view of the woman who married one of the most powerful of those leaders. You will find articles about some of the people and places involved by clicking the Hereford and Ireland History tab above.

For the past year I have been researching the background to the period in Irish history usually referred to as The Great Irish Famine. This work was prompted by a friend and together we hope to produce a book on the subject.

Books by Frank Parker

The latest book by Frank Parker released on November 17th 2017.

About the book

A layman’s guide to the worst man made disaster to afflict Great Britain, it’s causes and lessons for the future.

Whilst the British elites were celebrating the achievements of Empire, a million people died from lack of food and housing elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Is it possible for humanity to achieve the Liberal ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number or are Malthus’s predictions about the relationship between population and food production about to come true?

A recent review for the book

Joseph Willson Our history is not always pretty.2 December 2017

I have always wondered about the story behind the cause and effect of the Irish potato famine. Never have I really come across anything at any time that could hold a candle to this in-depth chronology. The way that both government and church played a part in this ‘atrocity’ if one looks closely enough at the events. It begs the question, “Have we as a people truly learned anything from this considering the current state of the world?” Are there still not the exact same things happening all over the world if one just alters the context a little? Makes you wonder.

A well written and well researched work well worth the look for anyone interested in what I shall refer to as social injustices. Our history is not always pretty.

Read the reviews and buy the books:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7834486.Frank_Parker

Connect to Frank

Blog/website: https://franklparker.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerefordAndIrelandHistory/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fparkerswords

Thank you for dropping into today and  Frank will be with us again next week.  

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – You’re Fired: A Christmas Fable by Frank Parker


A welcome pack to Frank Parker who entertained us recently with posts from his historical archives.. now a post with a festive flavour or perhaps more of a enjoy this Christmas because it might be the last for a while!!!!

You’re Fired: A Christmas Fable by Frank Parker

A young man goes to his uncle’s office. They are both partners in the family business. The young man wears his hair and beard long. He has piercing blue eyes. Above them is an irregular line of marks, puckered like scar tissue, lighter than the generally swarthy appearance of his skin. The older man also has long hair and beard but, where the younger man’s are dark, his are pure white. His cheeks, visible above the white hair of the beard, are rosy and his eyes are crinkled in the appearance of a permanent smile. He is working at a computer screen, going through long lists of requisitions, placing orders.

“The Old Man wants to see us.”

“Did he say why?”

“No, but I don’t think it’s to talk about the Christmas bonus. He was going through the record books and I got the distinct impression he was not too impressed.”

The uncle sighs, “He knows how much I hate being interrupted when I am in the middle of the Christmas rush. It doesn’t get any easier you know. The number of children and the volume of stuff they demand makes it harder every year. If it wasn’t for Amazon I don’t know how we’d manage.”

The man the young one had referred to as “The Old Man” is strikingly similar in appearance to the uncle. He is pacing up and down behind a large desk.

“Nicholas; thank you for coming. I know how busy you are at this time of year.” Before the uncle can respond the Old Man holds up his hand. “Just hear me out. I’ve made a decision. It’s going to make your life a lot easier from now on.” He stops his pacing and grasps the back of the ornate chair behind the desk. “We may as well sit down,” he says as he pulls it out.

Seeing the young man hesitate he says: “You too my boy. Whether you like it or not, you are in this as well. Your message doesn’t seem to be getting through any more and we need to work out what we are going to do about that. But first there’s this Christmas business. It was supposed to be a celebration of your birth. But thanks to your bumbling, Nicholas, it has gone horribly wrong. What happened? How did a tradition that was meant to be about ensuring the poor got their share of the harvest end up as a colossal orgy of self indulgence? If I didn’t know better, Nicholas, I would accuse you of working for the other lot.”

Nicholas splutters and the Old Man raises his hand again. “I’m not saying you are in the pay of the rival firm, although I do have serious doubts about that crowd Amazon you’ve given the sub-contract to. But whatever is going on, be it naivete on your part or something else, you are obviously not on top of the job anymore and you have to admit he is winning.”

“I know, I know.” Nicholas is evidently chastened by the Old Man’s criticism. “I was just saying to the boy here how the demands of this latest crop of children have become harder and harder to satisfy.”

“Exactly. And it has to stop.”

There is a stunned silence in the room. Eventually Nicholas speaks in a quiet voice that is full of sadness. “You know, I can remember,” he pauses, turning to the young man as he adds: “and this is something you will appreciate from your days as a carpenter. I remember how fathers would make things for their children. Doll’s houses, rocking horses, simple models of grown up things like wheel-barrows, locomotives or motor cars. The cleverer ones would fashion toy animals. Mothers knitted and sewed making dolls for the girls and fair-isle pullovers for their husbands and sons. And they made cakes, pies and puddings involving the whole family in the mixing. The whole season was a great occasion.

In those days I got so much pleasure from our work. Collecting all those lovingly crafted objects brought joy and wonder to my heart and, I am certain, to the children for whom they were intended.”

The Old Man looks at his son who has been fidgeting uncomfortably as Nicholas was speaking, finally pressing his hands between his knees to keep them still, ringlets of the long hair hanging in front of his face. “See what I mean? Your message. Just not getting through, is it?”

The young man raises his head, flicks his hair back, brushes a tear from his cheek.

“Evidently not. But what can we do?”

The Old Man grasps the edge of the desk with both hands and leans forward. “There is only one solution as I see it. Nicholas, you are looking very tired these days, jaded. I think you should take some time off. I am cancelling Christmas.”

Nicholas and his nephew emit horrified gasps and the Old Man lets go of the desk and leans back in his chair. “Think about it,” he continues. “It will give you a break, a few years sabbatical if you like, a chance to take a well earned rest. The boy and I will spend the next while sorting things out, getting the business back on track. Then, in a century or so, we can think about bringing you back on board, helping people celebrate Christmas as it was meant to be.”

He leans forward extending his right arm its forefinger pointing directly at the young man’s uncle. “Meanwhile Nicholas,” he says, “You’re fired!”

©Frank Parker 2016

Well that gave us all something to think about didn’t it?. And as I tripped over tins of Quality Street, Celebrations and Heroes in the supermarket yesterday.. three for a tenner (normal price the rest of the year a tenner each) destined to give everyone a sugar rush for the next week… I thought perhaps even if we are not religious we might look at the spirit of Christmas differently. Thank you Frank.

About Frank Parker

I’m Frank Parker and I am a writer. I didn’t used to be. Like many people I always wanted to be. On several occasions during my career as an Engineer I produced stories that I submitted to publishers. I even had a writing job once. It involved talking to small and medium sized businesses and writing up profiles for a regional business magazine. To make any money you had to sell advertising to accompany the articles. Selling is not a skill that comes naturally to me so that job did not last long.

I returned to Engineering, working on chemical plants, refineries and power stations throughout the North and Midlands of England. In 1997 I joined a defence contractor as a project administrator, a job that saw me through until retirement in the autumn of 2006. I came to live in the Irish Midlands so as to be near my son and his family. And, now at last, I have the freedom to write.

Novels
So far I’ve self-published 4 novels and two collections of short stories. You can find out more about them here. My stories have also appeared in anthologies published independently in County Laois.

Politics

I have also pursued a lifelong interest in politics. Between 1985 and 1991 I served as a councilor in North East Lincolnshire. So you should not be surprised to find posts on my blog commenting on current affairs from a broadly Liberal point of view. The environment and the damage we are doing to it, from agri-chemicals and air and water pollution to climate change, has always been a matter of concern to me. As a councilor I argued the case for the local authority to purchase timber products only from sustainable sources.

History

Since 2013 I have been studying Irish history in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the turbulent relationship between that country and its near neighbour. It began when I discovered that among the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century were a number of individuals with a prior connection to the county in which I was born and grew up, Herefordshire. That discovery lies behind my historical novel Strongbow’s Wife which describes the invasion and its aftermath from the point of the view of the woman who married one of the most powerful of those leaders. You will find articles about some of the people and places involved by clicking the Hereford and Ireland History tab above.

For the past year I have been researching the background to the period in Irish history usually referred to as The Great Irish Famine. This work was prompted by a friend and together we hope to produce a book on the subject.

Books by Frank Parker

The latest book by Frank Parker released on November 17th 2017.

About the book

A layman’s guide to the worst man made disaster to afflict Great Britain, it’s causes and lessons for the future.

Whilst the British elites were celebrating the achievements of Empire, a million people died from lack of food and housing elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Is it possible for humanity to achieve the Liberal ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number or are Malthus’s predictions about the relationship between population and food production about to come true?

A recent review for the book

Joseph Willson Our history is not always pretty.2 December 2017

I have always wondered about the story behind the cause and effect of the Irish potato famine. Never have I really come across anything at any time that could hold a candle to this in-depth chronology. The way that both government and church played a part in this ‘atrocity’ if one looks closely enough at the events. It begs the question, “Have we as a people truly learned anything from this considering the current state of the world?” Are there still not the exact same things happening all over the world if one just alters the context a little? Makes you wonder.

A well written and well researched work well worth the look for anyone interested in what I shall refer to as social injustices. Our history is not always pretty.

Read the reviews and buy the books:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7834486.Frank_Parker

Connect to Frank

Blog/website: https://franklparker.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerefordAndIrelandHistory/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fparkerswords

Thank you for dropping into today and  Frank will be introducing us to more posts on the subject of Irish History in the New Year..

 

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Henry II – a Right Royal Hypocrite by Frank Parker


Welcome to the second post from the archives of Frank Parker. Last week Frank introduced us to early Irish History and the influence of Strongbow. This week King Henry II wants to bring the church in Ireland in line with the teachings in England… this would mean quite a bit of adjustment by the High Kings and affiliates.. especially when it came to their marital arrangements.

Henry II – a Right Royal Hypocrite by Frank Parker

A Portrait of Henry II

When Henry II of England came to Ireland in 1171/2 he came with the Pope’s blessing. Indeed, the Pope had issued a Papal Bull some years earlier authorising such an expedition with the aim of bringing the Irish Church into line with Rome’s teachings. So one of the first things that Henry undertook was to call and, later, to officiate at, a synod attended by the Irish Bishops. This took place at Cashel and the ordinance that emanated from it listed a number of rules defining the relationship between the Church and the other institutions of government.

Readers should not be misled by that phrase “institutions of government”. Ireland at that time did not have anything remotely like a national government. It had for some considerable time had a “High King” – literally someone deemed to be more powerful than several other kings. But this person did not rule the whole Island. In the annals – contemporary documents that record events in early Irish history – some of these High Kings are described as “with opposition”. Only a few carry the designation “without opposition”.

Legal framework

There was, however, a well defined legal framework, administered by the provincial kings and predating the arrival of Christianity. The Brehon laws defined the relationship between king and subject, established rules for ownership of land and for its distribution among heirs on the death of the owner and set out a clear hierarchy between ruler and ruled. It also defined marriage in terms very different from the Christian ideal of monogamy. In simple terms, so long as the appropriate price was paid for a bride it did not matter how many a man took.

The Church in Ireland at this time was divided. One faction was determined to remain independent from the Church in England which was then, as now, ruled from Canterbury. But a growing number of bishops had begun to forge relationships with Canterbury. The traditional faction maintained a close relationship with the provincial kings from whom it obtained material support. To do so it was inclined not to be over-critical of those aspects of Brehon law that conflicted with Church teachings.

Murder in the Cathedral

Henry meanwhile was fresh from his own conflict with Canterbury, specifically Arch-bishop Becket. Although acting without royal authority a small group of knights loyal to the king had brought an end to years of conflict by murdering the Arch-bishop in the cathedral. Henry needed to do something to appease an angry Pope. Worried about the way in which Strongbow, the man he had authorised to assist Dermot to repossess the provincial kingdom of Leinster, had begun to carve out large areas of the island for himself, he hoped to solve two problems at once.

So the synod of Cashel was an attempt to bring the whole of the Irish Church into line with Rome’s teachings by aligning it with, and making it subject to, the rule of Canterbury. This aim exactly paralleled the king’s other aim of making the governance of the Church subject to his direct rule. In this Henry was promoting the Church’s insistence on monogamous marriage. What makes him a right royal hypocrite is the fact that he was at the time estranged from his wife and conducting an affair with the Herefordshire heiress Rosamund Clifford.

©Frank Parker

You can read more about Strongbow in Frank’s first post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-strongbow-the-invader-by-frank-parker/

About Frank Parker

I’m Frank Parker and I am a writer. I didn’t used to be. Like many people I always wanted to be. On several occasions during my career as an Engineer I produced stories that I submitted to publishers. I even had a writing job once. It involved talking to small and medium sized businesses and writing up profiles for a regional business magazine. To make any money you had to sell advertising to accompany the articles. Selling is not a skill that comes naturally to me so that job did not last long.

I returned to Engineering, working on chemical plants, refineries and power stations throughout the North and Midlands of England. In 1997 I joined a defence contractor as a project administrator, a job that saw me through until retirement in the autumn of 2006. I came to live in the Irish Midlands so as to be near my son and his family. And, now at last, I have the freedom to write.

Novels
So far I’ve self-published 4 novels and two collections of short stories. You can find out more about them here. My stories have also appeared in anthologies published independently in County Laois.

Politics

I have also pursued a lifelong interest in politics. Between 1985 and 1991 I served as a councilor in North East Lincolnshire. So you should not be surprised to find posts on my blog commenting on current affairs from a broadly Liberal point of view. The environment and the damage we are doing to it, from agri-chemicals and air and water pollution to climate change, has always been a matter of concern to me. As a councilor I argued the case for the local authority to purchase timber products only from sustainable sources.

History

Since 2013 I have been studying Irish history in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the turbulent relationship between that country and its near neighbour. It began when I discovered that among the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century were a number of individuals with a prior connection to the county in which I was born and grew up, Herefordshire. That discovery lies behind my historical novel Strongbow’s Wife which describes the invasion and its aftermath from the point of the view of the woman who married one of the most powerful of those leaders. You will find articles about some of the people and places involved by clicking the Hereford and Ireland History tab above.

For the past year I have been researching the background to the period in Irish history usually referred to as The Great Irish Famine. This work was prompted by a friend and together we hope to produce a book on the subject.

Books by Frank Parker

The latest book by Frank Parker released on November 17th 2017.

About the book

A layman’s guide to the worst man made disaster to afflict Great Britain, it’s causes and lessons for the future.

Whilst the British elites were celebrating the achievements of Empire, a million people died from lack of food and housing elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Is it possible for humanity to achieve the Liberal ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number or are Malthus’s predictions about the relationship between population and food production about to come true?

An early review for the book

on 21 November 2017

I was fortunate to receive a free copy of this book. A Purgatory of Misery is an in-depth and well-researched study of the events leading up to the Irish Potato Famine in the latter half of the 19th century. The author has provided an informative, eye-opening, unbiased, and moving account of the plight of the Irish poor during recurring failures of the potato harvest and the inadequacies of government and church to successfully address their needs. I wasn’t aware of the scale of the disaster, or should I say, tragedy? One million of the irish poor died from starvation and disease, and thousands were transported to the colonies.

Politics and religion played their part in the effects of the famine but also the history of Ireland going back eight centuries over which politicians and the clergy had no control. I highly recommend this splendid book to anyone interested in social history or the history of Ireland.

Read the reviews and buy the books:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7834486.Frank_Parker

Connect to Frank

Blog/website: https://franklparker.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerefordAndIrelandHistory/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fparkerswords

Thank you for dropping into today and  Frank will be introducing us to more posts on the subject of Irish History in the New Year..

I am now looking for posts for the run up to the festive season at the end of the year so delve into your archives and check to see if you have one or two posts that might be suitable. Email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Strongbow – the Invader by Frank Parker


Thanks for joining me again for another posts from the archives and today I am welcoming Frank Parker with his contributions. In this post Frank shares the history of Strongbow whose great-grandfather was a relative of William the Conqueror.

Strongbow – the Invader by Frank Parker

Strongbow as depicted in the Dublinia exhibition

Best known for his exploits in Ireland this distant relative of William the Conqueror is the common ancestor of several Queens of England. He was given the name Strongbow because of his prowess with the long bow. By the time he came to Ireland he seems to have learned that negotiation often proves more successful than violence. Nevertheless he allowed his closest ally to conduct some brutal actions against the native Irish, rewarding him with the hand of his sister.

Strongbow’s great-grandfather was a relative of William the Conqueror and accompanied the latter to England in 1066. Following the conquest he was granted 176 lordships, including those of Tonbridge in Kent and Clare in Suffolk. Usually styled Richard fitz Gilbert (of Tonbridge) he is referred to as Richard of Clare in the Domesday book. He served as joint Justiciar in William’s absence, making him one of the most powerful men in late eleventh century England.

Opposition to William II

When the Conqueror died Richard joined with a number of other barons to oppose the succession of William II to the English throne, supporting instead the claim of the Conqueror’s eldest son Robert Curthose. He retired to a monastery in 1088 and his English lands passed to his second son, Gilbert fitz Richard, Strongbow’s grandfather. The eldest son, Roger, received the Norman lands.

In 1110, Henry I’s former mistress, Princess Nest, by then married to Gerald of Windsor, was abducted by Owain ap Cadwgan. As punishment Henry stripped him of Cardigan and its castle, giving them to Gilbert. Another brother, Walter, was granted the lordship of Nether Gwent which included the castle at Striguil (Chepstow). When Gilbert died, his lands passed to his eldest son Richard.

Support for King Stephen

His second son, Strongbow’s father, also named Gilbert, inherited Norman lands from his uncle Roger and the lordship of Nether Gwent from his uncle Walter. King Stephen created him Earl of Pembroke and granted him lands around Pevensey in Sussex. This man was the first to earn the nick-name Strongbow in recognition of his prowess with the long bow. The sobriquet passed to his son Richard, the subject of this post.

The younger Strongbow’s mother, Isabel de Beaumont, was, like Princess Nest, a former mistress of Henry I. A number of sources suggest that she had a daughter, Constance, with Henry, and that she took this child, still an infant less than one year old, with her when she married Gilbert. Strongbow, Gilbert’s eldest child and only son, was born at Tonbridge in 1130. He and his younger sister Basilia were, therefore, brought up alongside the King’s illegitimate daughter.

Stripped of lands

Strongbow was 40 when he assembled the force that accompanied him to Ireland ahead of his marriage to the 17 year-old Aiofe MacMurrough. He had inherited his father’s lands and titles when the latter died in 1148 although he was stripped of several, including the Earldom of Pembroke, by Henry II on account of the family’s support for Henry’s cousin Stephen. The expedition to Ireland, which Henry supported, secured the restoration of the Earldom of Pembroke as well as adding new land holdings in Ireland.

Isabel’s fate, after the death of Gilbert1, is difficult to establish. I have seen one source which claims she died in 1146, 2 years before her husband. Elsewhere her death is given as 1172 and it is suggested that she married Gilbert’s younger brother Hervey de Montmorency, the man Strongbow sent to Ireland as part of the advance party and who later was appointed Constable of Ireland by Henry II.

Illegitimate daughters

According to Cokayne2 Strongbow had at least one and, possibly, two daughters by an unknown mistress before his marriage to Aiofe. Little is known about either. His legitimate daughter, Isabel, through her marriage to William Marshall, is the common ancestor of several subsequent Queens of England. Her husband governed England as regent to the young Henry III. In this role he masterminded the defeat of the French who had occupied a large part of southern England during the final years of King John’s reign.

Footnotes:

1.The phrase “Isabel’s fate after the death of Gilbert” could be taken to refer to Strongbow’s children, named Isabel and Gilbert for his parents. Here, of course, it refers to the parents.

2. George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage; or, A History of the House of Lords and All its Members from the Earliest Times, Vol. X, eds. H. A. Doubleday; Geoffrey H. White; & Howard de Walden (London: The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., 1945)

©Frank Parker 2016

About Frank Parker

I’m Frank Parker and I am a writer. I didn’t used to be. Like many people I always wanted to be. On several occasions during my career as an Engineer I produced stories that I submitted to publishers. I even had a writing job once. It involved talking to small and medium sized businesses and writing up profiles for a regional business magazine. To make any money you had to sell advertising to accompany the articles. Selling is not a skill that comes naturally to me so that job did not last long.

I returned to Engineering, working on chemical plants, refineries and power stations throughout the North and Midlands of England. In 1997 I joined a defence contractor as a project administrator, a job that saw me through until retirement in the autumn of 2006. I came to live in the Irish Midlands so as to be near my son and his family. And, now at last, I have the freedom to write.

Novels
So far I’ve self-published 4 novels and two collections of short stories. You can find out more about them here. My stories have also appeared in anthologies published independently in County Laois.

Politics

I have also pursued a lifelong interest in politics. Between 1985 and 1991 I served as a councilor in North East Lincolnshire. So you should not be surprised to find posts on my blog commenting on current affairs from a broadly Liberal point of view. The environment and the damage we are doing to it, from agri-chemicals and air and water pollution to climate change, has always been a matter of concern to me. As a councilor I argued the case for the local authority to purchase timber products only from sustainable sources.

History

Since 2013 I have been studying Irish history in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the turbulent relationship between that country and its near neighbour. It began when I discovered that among the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century were a number of individuals with a prior connection to the county in which I was born and grew up, Herefordshire. That discovery lies behind my historical novel Strongbow’s Wife which describes the invasion and its aftermath from the point of the view of the woman who married one of the most powerful of those leaders. You will find articles about some of the people and places involved by clicking the Hereford and Ireland History tab above.

For the past year I have been researching the background to the period in Irish history usually referred to as The Great Irish Famine. This work was prompted by a friend and together we hope to produce a book on the subject.

Books by Frank Parker

The latest book by Frank Parker released on November 17th 2017.

About the book

A layman’s guide to the worst man made disaster to afflict Great Britain, it’s causes and lessons for the future.

Whilst the British elites were celebrating the achievements of Empire, a million people died from lack of food and housing elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Is it possible for humanity to achieve the Liberal ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number or are Malthus’s predictions about the relationship between population and food production about to come true?

An early review for the book

on 21 November 2017

I was fortunate to receive a free copy of this book. A Purgatory of Misery is an in-depth and well-researched study of the events leading up to the Irish Potato Famine in the latter half of the 19th century. The author has provided an informative, eye-opening, unbiased, and moving account of the plight of the Irish poor during recurring failures of the potato harvest and the inadequacies of government and church to successfully address their needs. I wasn’t aware of the scale of the disaster, or should I say, tragedy? One million of the irish poor died from starvation and disease, and thousands were transported to the colonies.

Politics and religion played their part in the effects of the famine but also the history of Ireland going back eight centuries over which politicians and the clergy had no control. I highly recommend this splendid book to anyone interested in social history or the history of Ireland.

Read the reviews and buy the books:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Parker/e/B0076JVE5I

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7834486.Frank_Parker

Connect to Frank

Blog/website: https://franklparker.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerefordAndIrelandHistory/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fparkerswords

Thank you for dropping into today and over the next few weeks Frank will be introducing us to more posts on the subject of Irish History.

I am now looking for posts for the run up to the festive season at the end of the year so delve into your archives and check to see if you have one or two posts that might be suitable. Email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Tan: A Story of Exile, Betrayal and Revenge by David Lawlor


A warm welcome to David Lawlor and his book Tan: A Story of Exile, Betrayal and Revenge which is the first book in the Liam Mannion Story.

About Tan

‘Peelers have a knack for hitting you where it hurts; broken nose, bruised ribs, a few loosened teeth…no more than a rapist deserved, Sergeant Coveney and District Inspector Webber had said. Proper order, too – except the lad was no rapist, and Webber knew it.’

It’s 1914 and Liam Mannion is forced into exile for a crime he didn’t commit. He flees Balbriggan, the only home he has ever known and travels to England, where he enlists and endures the torment of trench warfare in France. Five years later he’s back in England, a changed man, living in the shadow of his battlefield memories. Liam finds work in a Manchester cotton mill but prejudice and illness soon see him destitute. Starving and desperate, he enlists in a new military force heading to Ireland – the Black and Tans – and is posted to the very town he fled as a youth.

While he has been away Liam’s childhood friends have joined the republican cause, while his brother has allied himself to the Crown forces. Liam must wrestle with his own conflicted feelings about duty to the ruthless Tans and loyalty to his friends. The potent combination of ambition, patriotism and betrayal collide, forcing him to act as he comes face to face with the man who spread lies about him all those years before.

One of the excellent reviews for Tan

An author faces a monumental task when writing historical fiction. If one historical fact is wrong or an anachronism appears, the reader is likely to put aside the book in favor of one that achieves historical accuracy tempered with believable dialogue, heightened tension, and sympathetic, yet flawed, heroes.

If you are a reader of historical fiction who requires accuracy, suspense, and flawed, yet heroic main characters, then I suggest you read Tan – A Story of Exile, Betrayal and Revenge by David Lawlor.

Set in England and then Ireland in the year after the end of World War I, Tan explores war from a closer view immediately following Liam Mannion’s release from the English Army in 1919. Here’s a guy forced to leave Ireland at a young age because of an act he witnessed after a night of drinking at a friend’s wedding. It’s here where the conflict of the story begins when the evil Webber blames and accuses the young Liam of an indecent act against a virtuous married woman. Webber’s fiction that forces Liam into exile begins a whole series of events that mark Liam for life.

Liam heads to England in 1914 and ends up in the English army fighting in France during the majority of World War I.

When Liam eventually heads back to England after the horrid and putrid rot of dead bodies that made up his memory of the war, he ends up in an insufferable situation which leads him to homelessness, and then worse, as an officer of the crown as a member of the powerful and often repressive Black and Tan. Liam turns a blind eye to the atrocious behavior of his English comrades, only until it becomes evident that his loyalty to the Black and Tan extracts too high of a rent for clean clothes and warm bowl of soup.

Lawlor captures the uncertainty of the times through the examination of Liam’s uncertain future as he’s thrust into situations beyond his control. Precise and graphic descriptions of life in England and Ireland post-World War I show that despite the end of a tragic war on the mainland of Europe, Ireland faced an even greater war at home with the invasion and intrusion of the Tans.

I fell in love with Lawlor’s descriptions of the setting in Tan as I lost myself in the world of the Irish fighting for their lives and their homeland. Here’s an example of Lawlor’s powerful descriptive talent:

“They leaned against the viaduct’s promenade rail, looking out on their hometown, watching the slow huff of a steam engine as it trundled into the station, the smell of the sea mingling with the coke from Cumisky’s coal yard beneath them.”

It’s filled with contrast and detail that employ the senses to show the reader that the situation and the setting are both beautiful and polluted.

Tan is both tender and violent as the reader is drawn into the abyss of angry revenge and the love and loyalty of friends and family. It also shows that being born into a family does not guarantee such loyalty. The character of the individual breeds the kind of loyalty that would take a bullet and shoot a bullet to protect and exact revenge.

I highly recommend Tan if you like to lose yourself into another world in the past of one hundred years ago on the soil of Ireland, bloodied from wars and stained with tears.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Tan-Story-Betrayal-Revenge-Mannion-ebook/dp/B00BFD4JF8

Read more reviews on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tan-Story-Betrayal-Revenge-Mannion-ebook/dp/B00BFD4JF8/

Also by David Lawlor

Read all the reviews for the series: https://www.amazon.com/David-Lawlor/e/B00E3T1EWW

and Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/David-Lawlor/e/B00E3T1EWW

Read more reviews and follow David Lawlor on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7059828.David_Lawlor

About David Lawlor

David Lawlor has been a journalist for over 20 years. He has written four historical fiction novels, Tan, The Golden Grave and A Time of Traitors, set in the 1920s during the Irish War of Independence and following the character Liam Mannion.

David is also a book editor – copy and content editing.

He lives in Wicklow, Ireland, with his wife and four children.

Connect to David

Website/Blog: https://historywithatwist.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LawlorDavid

Thank you for dropping by today and I hope that you will explore David’s books and his blog. Thanks Sally

If you have time please visit the Cafe and Bookstore and browse the shelves. There are over 200 authors with about 600 books that you might enjoy.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

Milestones along the Way – How I met Her by Geoff Cronin


Sadly my lovely mother-in-law Joan died at only 74 years old in 1994 and was sadly missed. She was a woman who loved crosswords, Rubik’s Cube and a patch of sunshine. She and Geoff had six terrific children and I am sure that she would love to have seen her great-grandchildren, some of whom remind me of her and her smile.

In the last of the stories from Geoff based on his three books, I thought it was appropriate to end with the tale of how he met Joan.

How I Met Her by Geoff Cronin

In the summer of 1944 I joined the boat club in Waterford. The headquarters of this club was situated on the Kilkenny side of the river Suir, opposite the Adelphi hotel. It was a wooden building and it was painted white and green and it housed several outriggers. These boats would be approximately 60 to 70 feet long and could be carried easily by eight men.

The club could be reached from Waterford by walking along the quay, across the bridge and down on the Kilkenny side of the river – which would have taken a considerable length of walking time. But, for convenience sake, a member of the club could stand on the Waterford side of the bridge and whistle or signal to the boat club who would send a punt across the river to ferry the member over to the club.

In those years, my brother Dick, who was an expert musician, ran a small dance band, consisting of himself on the accordion, Ken McKinnon on tenor sax and Peerie White (The Gunner) on drums. They played for small club dances around the town. Well, my brother secured a booking to play at Sunday night ‘Hops’ in the boat club and, being a member, I always supported those dances for the joint reason that my brother was in charge of the band, and I was a member of the club.

About this time, I had returned from working in a timber gang, where I developed a considerable amount of muscle, I was also in the boxing club where I did not meet with great success, being too short in stature for my weight. Nevertheless, I stripped out at eleven stone and felt somewhat invincible.

In those days, anyone who had a respectable job went to work in a collar and tie, long-sleeve shirt which usually boasted some kind of cuff-links, and I was no exception. So, on attending the boat-club dance one particular Sunday night, I took off my coat and rolled up my sleeves until the fold was well above the biceps. This allowed me to show off my muscles and at the same time display my doubtful dancing prowess. I was at that age when, as they say, ‘a young man’s fancy turns to love’ and I had my eye on Joan Flanagan.

Now this girl was probably the best looking girl in the in the city and I liked the way she walked with a very straight back, and when she looked at you her gaze was steady, and I was quite smitten.

However Joan was three years older than I was and I felt that she was beyond my reach. Imagine my surprise therefore when at this particular Sunday night dance she walked into the ballroom accompanied by a fellow who had been my junior at school and I felt a surge of anger the like of which I have not had felt since or before.

She was still taking her coat off when I walked up to her and asked her would she like to dance. This was very rude of me, really, but she agreed and we had a nice couple of rounds of the floor. During that time I was racking my brains to think how I might “anchor” the conversation.

Joan Flanagan, 1944

Again, on impulse, I said to her “by the way, do you do the Tango”? Now, to be honest, I hadn’t a clue how to do the Tango but I knew that she was interested in dancing because her cousin ran a dance studio and had a very large clientele.

Anyway, she said, “No I don’t do the Tango” but I wouldn’t mind learning.

Well, I said, “I’ve been taking lessons,” which was a downright lie, “and if you would like to come to the Atlantic, in Tramore, with me on, let’s say, on Thursday night of this week, and I can show you what I know and we could practice together.

So, she smiled deliberately at me and she said, “Well, yes, that would be nice.”

“OK,” I said. “I’ll see you on Thursday.”

Now, that was okay and to some extent it was a bit of a victory for me. But from that moment on her escort guarded her as if she was Fort Knox, and I realised that I hadn’t made any firm arrangement where to meet her, or how to get to Tramore, or whatever, and I was at pains to get back to speak to her again and I couldn’t because he kept hovering over her and blocking my entrance. Anyway, the dance came to a close and I was in a corner there, getting ready to put on my coat and I turned down the sleeves of my shirt and my cuff-links were dangling off the end of the shirt. And as I saw her getting ready to leave I went the length of the ballroom and I confronted her and I said to her, “Joan, listen, could you help me with something?”

“Yes,” she said. “What is it?”

And I said, “Joan, would you ever fix my cuff-links, I can’t get them right?”

So she smiled at me and began to fix my cuff-links.

And then I looked her straight in the face, and she looked back at me, and I felt myself sinking into those grey eyes with the feeling that I never had before. And I’m sure the angels felt a bang when I hit the ground, because I fell for her hook, line and sinker.

So, I arranged to meet her at the train station – there was a train to Tramore on a regular basis at that time – and we went to the Atlantic ballroom in Tramore together on the train, and back again and we had a most enjoyable evening. I arranged a further date with her and that continued on for four years and at the end of four years we were married.

In all we spent 50 years together, the happiest time of my life and in all that time we never had a cross word. So, there you are, that is the story of How I Met Her.

©GeoffCronin 2008

About Geoff Cronin – 1923 – February 2017

There were few jobs that Geoff could not turn his hands to, and over the years he mastered an impressive number of professional undertakings. Master baker and confectioner, mobile cinema operator, salesman, band leader, senior executive and master wood turner, storyteller and writer.

Geoff Cronin published his first book in 2005 at age 82. The Colour of Life is a collection of stories of life in Waterford during his childhood and early adulthood in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This was followed by two further books that related tales of further adventures in Waterford and Dublin.

Thank you for dropping in today and you can read The Colour of Life, The Black Bitch and the previous chapters of Milestones in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/books-by-geoff-cronin/

 

Milestones along the Way – Bacon by Geoff Cronin


When I was a boy early in the 1920s the industry of the city of Waterford was dominated by the firm of Henry Denny & Sons Ltd., one of the largest bacon factories in the British Isles at the time, with branches in Cork Limerick and Waterford. The Pig trade was always a mainstay of industry in the city and this firm had been had been established round about 1800. In my geography book at school Denny’s was labelled as ‘one of the most important bacon factories in Europe.’ The export trade in Waterford was very lively indeed around that time, and hundreds of animals were exported live to Britain on a weekly basis while the factory at home employed about five hundred people.

One of the main elements in that contribution was the constant production of offal which supplied many of the shops and was a welcome supply of cheap meat to the natives. The offal consisted of pigs heads, which were sold whole or in halves, backbones kidneys and a variety of items which could be used for stewing and produced a handsome soup. And in addition to that the employees of the factory were able to purchase, for a nominal amount, any amount of the offal produced in the factory.

Much of this offal found its way into small shops known as hucksters, which were scattered throughout the city, and these hucksters specialised in selling cooked, hot, “crubeens” which had to be boiled for several hours to make them perfectly edible. These little shops stayed open very late at night, especially when the pubs closed, and a gentleman who had imbibed throughout the evening would be perhaps ravenous with hunger, and could purchase, for a few pence, a couple of crubeens ready cooked to take home and have for supper. This procedure was quite common and the city was noted for it.

The many different bones which could be stewed with dumplings formed a large part of the diet of the poorest people in the city.

These bones, incidentally, had specific names like chucks or puzzlers, etc., – the backbones were also known as ‘chicken on horseback’ or ‘pigs mud-guard’ – and were for sale in most of the bacon shops around the city.

Traditional demand in Ireland was for bacon rashers and boiling bacon and the old-fashioned renowned bacon- and-cabbage was a very popular dish at the time, and probably still is. The fact that crubeens had to be cooked slowly for several hours meant that a person who wished to produce cooked crubeens needed a fair amount of fuel. When the war came – or the emergency as it was called in Ireland – fuel became scarce, but that did not prevent the natives from cooking this delicacy. They cooked by means of what was called a sawdust cooker.

Here I have to give you some detail about what the sawdust cooker was, and how it was made. First of all you had to have a steel, or metal barrel. A two-inch hole had to be made at one end of the barrel and the other end had to be cut off. Then a broomstick would be stood in the hole at the bottom and held upright while the barrel was filled with damp sawdust and packed fairly tight. The filled barrel would then be stood on a base of three bricks on edge, leaving a space underneath into which a large piece of crumpled newspaper would be inserted. The newspaper would be lit and as the flame travelled up the space left when the broomstick was withdrawn, it would ignite the sides of the hole as it travelled up and thereby start the process of smouldering. If the open top end of the barrel was covered by a sheet of iron, or a grill, a pot could be boiled on it, in time.

Sawdust could be had for nothing, at any of the sawmills in the town, so the cooking could go on, and did in fact go on unabated for many years after the war. In fact, there are still small shops that sell hot crubeens at night, and on your way home from the cinema or theatre you could get the delicious smell of these bacon delicacies.

Lid/Grill Barrel
 

©Geoff Cronin 2008.

About Geoff Cronin – 1923 – 2017

There were few jobs that Geoff could not turn his hands to, and over the years he mastered an impressive number of professional undertakings. Master baker and confectioner, mobile cinema operator, salesman, band leader, senior executive and master wood turner, storyteller and writer.

Geoff Cronin published his first book in 2005 at age 82. The Colour of Life is a collection of stories of life in Waterford during his childhood and early adulthood in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This was followed by two further books that related tales of further adventures in Waterford and Dublin.

Thank you for dropping in today and you can read The Colour of Life, The Black Bitch and the previous chaptes of Milestones in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/

Milestones along the way – The American Connection by Geoff Cronin

Status


Welcome to this week’s story from my late father-in-law’s memoir of his life as a boy growing up in Waterford Ireland.

The American Connection by Geoff Cronin

My great uncle Richard Condon who was my grandfather’s brother in law lived in Chicago for most of his life and was reported to be worth at least three million dollars. In 1930, my father was his sole heir and was to inherit the fortune. However, my father received a telegram about that time to say that his uncle, Richard Condon, had just got married. The man was near eighty years old at that time and my father said “he’s got married now with one leg in the grave and the other on a bar of soap!”

Apparently, he had been involved a car accident and was seriously injured. A long period of recovery ensued and he was nursed back to reasonably good health by a lady nurse called Jessie Barr? And this was his new bride. She was a Scots Presbyterian, twenty nine years old and weighed about twenty stone. Quite a handful! Anyway the happy couple set out on a sort of world tour in the process of which they came to Ireland and visited my family for about three weeks, during which time they enjoyed lavish hospitality at my father’s expense, including hiring a car for the duration of the stay.

Time came for them to depart and my brothers and sister and I were given a present each – a five shilling sweep ticket! We were not ecstatic at such munificence needless to say.

Richard Condon, Chicago 1909.

Their programme was to go to Glasgow to meet her family, which they did and then do a tour of the Scottish Highlands. It was during that tour that the old man collapsed and died and we learned that he was to be buried in Waterford in the Cronin grave.

So the funeral took place and the widow accompanied by her brother and his wife stayed at our house in Woodstown and were royally entertained. She stayed on for ten days or so and the others remained on for three weeks. During the ten days she gave me his gold penknife and all his ties, about fifty or so and my brothers received his watch and his cufflinks as their inheritance. I don’t remember my sister getting anything but his new will was produced, leaving everything to his widow, and it had been recently prepared by her brother in law who was a lawyer.

Jessie Barr Condon, Mary Jo Cronin, Richard Condon

So that was that so to speak. But as a sort of goodwill gesture, my elder brother and I were taken back to Glasgow for a ten day holiday and the Empire Exhibition was on at that time. We stayed with her people there and had a good time, though I was reprimanded for whistling on the Sunday – those people were strict Presbyterian and I retaliated by putting an Irish shilling in the collection plate at mass on the same Sunday knowing that it was not legal tender in Scotland.

During that visit we saw the “Queen Elizabeth” still under construction in 1938 and re-visited John Brown’s Iron Foundry which was interesting.

But back to our home in Woodstown before my great uncle died:

At that time the ‘local’ post office, which was run by a Mr. Delaney and his wife, was two miles away, in Rosduff, and during my great uncle’s short illness there were telegrams arriving daily with the news.

These telegrams, of a strictly confidential nature were delivered by the postmaster, Mr. Delaney on a bicycle. The fee for delivery was sixpence, paid on delivery and being a courteous man, Delaney when handing over the sealed envelope would always remove his cap and announce, “I think he’s failing ma’am” or “’tis not looking good”. On delivery of the final telegram, he announced, “I’m sorry for your trouble ma’am, the poor man is gone”.

My mother remarked, “I suppose it saves me opening the envelope”!

The inheritance of fifty American ties on my part caused a stir in another area altogether because at school I had a very dapper English teacher who used to wear a new tie every day and when I noticed this I too began wearing a new tie each day, only mine were multicoloured and garish. My teacher nearly had a heart attack as I upstaged him with these outlandish offerings and the class spotted what was going on. When eventually the teacher came in wearing the same tie I knew he was “out of ammunition” and next day I did likewise and so retired undefeated. Oddly, not one single word was said about this matter.

Extract from Richard Condon’s Will, dated 9th March 1937

©Geoff Cronin 2010

About Geoff Cronin – 1923 – February 2017

There were few jobs that Geoff could not turn his hands to, and over the years he mastered an impressive number of professional undertakings. Master baker and confectioner, mobile cinema operator, salesman, band leader, senior executive and master wood turner, storyteller and writer.

Geoff Cronin published his first book in 2005 at age 82. The Colour of Life is a collection of stories of life in Waterford during his childhood and early adulthood in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This was followed by two further books that related tales of further adventures in Waterford and Dublin.

Thank you for dropping in today and you can read The Colour of Life, The Black Bitch and the previous chaptes of Milestones in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/