by

The Irish Backstory

I met Mary, the librarian, at The Irish Cultural & Heritage Center of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee a few years back. She gave this novice writer in fiction a tutorial on the Irish world; she patiently sat with me and answered my questions about Northern Ireland.
I needed a backstory to explain how a young girl from Northern Ireland, who had come to live in Wisconsin, grew up to be my protagonist character, owning a greenhouse, and living in a village on the outskirts of Milwaukee. No matter how much would remain in the book, for my own mind, I needed a backstory for my characters.
Mary pointed out I needed accurate Irish names to correspond with the locations and the times, and the family’s story. I had to answer; were my characters Protestant or were they Catholic? And, answer, what made the parents send their precious twin daughters across the ocean to a strange landscape? How was it that Beckett, a Protestant journalist came to be the best friend of a Catholic IRA fighter?
She pointed out I needed the name of a town these two unlikely friends could grow up and not be dirtied by local cynicism. And, I needed to explain how that old friend came to be the watchful neighbor of his best friend’s lone daughter, after GlenAnne’s sister was killed.
Beckett and Deirdra Flannery sent their daughters to the United States one summer to … Only one survived, enough for them to turn their lone daughter around and send her back to the United States never to see her parents again.

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