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Authors: Katie Flynn

Tags: #Saga, #Liverpool, #Ireland

Rainbow's End

BOOK: Rainbow's End
9.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
About the Book
Tracing the stories of two quite diffrent girls: Ellen Docherty, in Liverpool, bringing up her younger sister and brother single-handedly, and Maggie McVeigh, in the Dublin tenements, finding a better life working for the Nolan family, and falling in love with Liam, the eldest son,
Rainbow’s End
follows two girls on their struggle for happiness. But the First World War changes everything - and unearths a long-buried link between the families.
About the Author
Katie Flynn has lived for many years in the Northwest. Many of her early stories were broadcast on Radio Mersey, and the reminiscences of family members prompted her to start her very successful series of books about Liverpool. She has also written books as Judith Saxton.
Also by Katie Flynn
A Liverpool Lass
The Girl From Penny Lane
Liverpool Taffy
The Mersey Girls
Strawberry Fields
Rose of Tralee
No Silver Spoon
Polly’s Angel
The Girl from Seaforth Sands
The Liverpool Rose
Poor Little Rich Girl
The Bad Penny
Down Daisy Street
Katie Flynn
This ebook is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form (including any digital form) other than this in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Epub ISBN: 9781446455937
Version 1.0
Reprinted by William Heinemann in 2003
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Copyright © Katie Flynn 1997
Katie Flynn has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work
First published in the United Kingdom in 1997
by William Heinemann
The Random House Group Limited
20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 2SA
Random House Australia (Pty) Limited
20 Alfred Street, Milsons Point, Sidney, New South Wales 2061, Australia
Random House New Zealand Limited
18 Poland Road, Glenfield
Auckland 10, New Zealand
Random House (Pty) Limited
Endulini, 5a Jubilee Road, Parktown 2193, South Africa
The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 0 434 00366 2
My thanks to the staff of the Liverpool Libraries, particularly Eileen Greenwood of Everton Library, who set up meetings with Evertonians and lent me a copy of a book I badly needed. Ann Cunningham told me about her mother-in-law’s girlhood, some of which I ‘borrowed’ for Maggie in this book. Sam Crystal’s experience of the meat trade was invaluable and last but not least John Williams of the Wrexham Branch Library found the very information I needed on Armistice Day 1918.
Since I developed M.E. early in 1996 I have been afflicted by appalling memory loss, so if I’ve missed anyone out, I’m truly sorry.
For Maria Garbett,
a true friend in need, and an avid reader into the
bargain. Hope you like this one
Chapter One
January 1839
It was very cold. Snow lay thick on the flat, high terraces of the Burren which surrounded the Feeneys’ small farmhouse and the pools which had formed where the nearby stream had deepened with the winter’s snow had ice like lace round their edges, spreading into the centre as the cold grew more intense. Grainne Feeney, who had just checked the family’s winter supply of potatoes, protected by straw and earth against snow and frost, reflected that everyone dreaded a severe winter and this looked as though it was going to be just that, since it had snowed heavily the previous evening. It was Twelfth Night, when the superstitious believe that the dead walk . . . but since the sixth of January is also celebrated as ‘little Christmas’, all over Ireland, the children, and older people too, were looking forward to an evening spent telling tales and playing games around the fire, whilst the woman of the house prepared the finest meal she could manage, to see them through the hungry months ahead.
And hungry months they might well be, Grainne thought, going into the earth-floored farmhouse kitchen and frowning over the sacks of flour, the sides of smoked bacon and the tub of crude lard which she had stacked in the cupboard against the back door. In the roof space above her head were some precious apples carefully spaced out on a piece of board, a tub of molasses, two sacks of oatmeal and a great many jars of blackberry jam, but would this be sufficient to see them through until summer came? Grainne did her best to prepare for winter, but she was never quite sure if the food would last out, and as winter advanced and the family made inroads upon her supplies, she was always apprehensive that she might be caught out. The trouble was, she was always so busy! Her father, Paddy Feeney, did his best, but he was not helped by the fact that he had lost his leg as a young man when a wound had gone bad on him. He had a wooden leg and pegged around as best he could, but even an able-bodied man with a farm such as his needed grown sons to help with the work, and Paddy’s oldest son was eight. When Paddy had been young and his father and mother had had the farm, there had been plenty of hands to make light work, for Paddy was one of eight brothers. But as they grew up his brothers had decided that a hand-to-mouth existence on the farm was not for them and they had begun to emigrate, some to Dublin, others to America, the remainder to England, until only Paddy Feeney remained on the home farm set on the wild limestone uplands known as the Burren.
Paddy himself was the eldest Feeney, but the second brother sent a letter sometimes, all the way from Chicago, and the third occasionally got his wife to write from their New York home, for none of the Feeney boys could write or read. But the passing of time had loosened the strong thread which had once bound the boys and the younger brothers had long ceased to keep in touch. Paddy was fond of telling his children that they had an uncle who sold cattle food in Dublin and another who was a drover, driving cattle from all over the country to the big beast markets, besides a seaman who sailed out of Liverpool port and travelled the world, but Grainne never expected to meet these uncles of hers; they were like all the other legends of Ireland, more myth than truth. So though she read the letters with the foreign stamps on them when they arrived and carefully wrote replies, to her father’s dictation, she didn’t really believe in her clever uncles. They were characters from the past, no more real than Finn McCool, and had no reality for Grainne in the present.
But her mother was real to her, though she had been dead now for more than six years. She remembered her mother lifting her up when she was three or four and showing her the pictures.
Grainne adored the pictures. There were two of them, both embroidered, and the first and oldest was all done in the most beautiful, delicate coloured silks. Grainne’s grandmother had made it when she had been a young girl, working for rich people with a big manor house just outside Ennis. The mistress there had been a good churchwoman who embroidered altar cloths for the church and stoles for the priest, and when she saw that Grainne’s grandmother was interested, she gave her the odds and ends of silk from her work.
‘Make yourself something for your dowry,’ she had said, meaning an embroidered pinafore or a tablecloth no doubt. But Grainne’s grandmother had made the picture, because she had been heartsick for the Burren, and she hung it on her wall in her little garret room and looked at it each day. And when William Feeney, who owned his own farm up on the Burren, had asked her to marry him, she hadn’t given a thought to the hardships, the child-bearing and the battle with the weather which were the lot of a farmer’s wife. She had had a man from Ennis eager to marry her, a rich widower in his mid-thirties with a handsome town house and a large and flourishing seed-merchant business. But marriage to him would have rooted her firm in the town for the rest of her life, so she had had no hesitation in dismissing him. Neither did she cast a backward glance at her comfortable life with her kindly employers, nor the pleasures of living in a large, well-run household. Her mistress, who was truly fond of her, tried to dissuade her from leaving, pointing out the advantages of marrying a sober citizen with plenty of money, but Grainne’s grandmother knew her own mind. She had said ‘yes’ to William Feeney and gone back to the Burren with a full and happy heart, and she had hung her beautiful picture on the wall of the farmhouse, to remind her of spring in winter, she told her children. And she never regretted coming home, because she loved beauty and the sea and being her own mistress, even if it was of a tiny, barren little farm and not of a handsome town house.
Then Grainne’s grandmother had had her sons, and Grainne’s father, Paddy, being the eldest son, had taken over the farmhouse. And when he was established and near to thirty he asked Bridget MacGuire to marry him, because he thought she was the prettiest, cleverest girl in the district. Bridget had accepted and come to live in the farmhouse up on the Burren, and she greatly admired the beautiful picture her mother-in-law had made with her silks and canvas and her clever fingers, and her clear, beautiful memories of spring on the Burren.
So as she combed and carded the wool from her husband’s sheep, it occurred to her that she would like to make a companion picture to the one which hung on one side of the big old fireplace. And she had dyed hanks of wool all different colours, and cut a piece of canvas to size and begun to make her own picture. For she could not have afforded silks, and anyway she wanted her picture to be hers and not just a copy of her mother-in-law’s.
Her own mother’s picture hung, now, on the other side of the fireplace. Grainne was never sure which she preferred – sometimes I like one best and sometimes the other, she decided now. Her grandmother’s picture showed the Burren in spring, when all the extraordinary and exotic flowers and plants, which people came from all over the country to admire, were in full bloom. She had made each little flower-face with the greatest care and attention, she had drawn the lichen with her silks, and the moss, and the whitish-grey limestone, the clumps of grass, green as spring grass must be, and even a gull’s egg, mottled blue and brown, lying on that same grass.
But her mother’s picture was an autumn scene and that, in its own way, was even lovelier. The sky was a pale blue, the bent silver birth gold-leafed and the flowers of the Burren the quieter shades of autumn. And Grainne loved it because the wool was their wool, from their sheep, and also because her mother had been so happy with her work, so innocently proud of what she had created.
It was a great shame, so it was, that Bridget had given Paddy five daughters before she produced her first son, but Paddy had never grumbled. And when the son was finally born, what rejoicing there was! When she gave birth to a second son, the rejoicing had been even greater, but within a fortnight she had died of milk fever and the light had gone out of Paddy’s eyes. He started work at sunrise and worked on until long after sunset, and apart from his two older daughters he did it all himself, for the boys were babies still and could not be expected to work with him.
BOOK: Rainbow's End
9.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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