Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Beginning

I never had any intention of writing a book on Irish history, though I enjoyed both writing, and reading Irish history. Most of the things I had written were small pieces, bits of autobiography, essays, curriculum materials, and one sport story which was rejected by Sports Illustrated. Dwelling Place of Dragons was an accident. I had read and reread all the Irish histories in the Ipswich Library.

When my family was grown and I had some free time, I discovered that genealogy was a great hobby. So, from time to time, I tried to add bits of information about my Irish family. One item of interest was a journal written by a relative, James Harshaw. Through a set of very lucky circumstances, I was able to locate them, and then later read them. The six Diaries were written in a simple handwriting and inventive spelling by an Irish farmer during the middle of the 19th century. I knew almost at once that I had stumbled on a very important story. Somehow, it would have to be prepared in book form for the many people who would find the information intereting.

I would have been very happy to find someone to whom I could pass off this project. But somehow this task seemed to be my responsibility, one I could not ignore. With great reluctance, I began the additional research that I recognized would be needed to complete the story of James Harshaw and his time.

Years passed before I finished. Finally, I had the material for a different kind of history, and two more major characters. Through the writings of James Harshaw, his nephew John Martin, and John's friend George Henderson, readers can follow the history of Ireland as it unfolded rather than having to look back at it from our very different perspectives and agendas of today. The years from 1830 to 1849 which are covered in this book were difficult years full of anger, confrontation, sorrow and death. Small wonder then that many of our Irish relatives left then to come to sanctuaries in Amercia, Canada, and Australia.

I will introduce James, John, and George in my next posts.

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