My novel "Maggie" and my 4th collection titled"Between Aurora and Twilight"

The novel “Maggie” has taken me over ten years to write and I have had many rejections. However, I do not allow rejections to cloud my creative mind and I remain creative not stunted. The novel “Maggie” is the true love story of my grandparents Margaret Crosbie known as Maggie and Richard Griffin known as Dick. The novel spans nearly a hundred years. I show and tell of the social and political history of Ireland, Dublin and Wales, Cardiff, from 1899 to early 1980’s. Years of research, a great Irish family tree, many visits to Ireland and I also performed poetry in Cobblestones opposite Red Cow lane Dublin the pub was called Carolans in Maggie’s day and my father sang in the same pub in 1957.

I found some people do not understand Ireland’s history especially from 1900 to 1922. However I found a lovely writer named Lin Ebenezzer. I sent him two chapters of “Maggie” and he understood what I was writing about he also believed in the novel “Maggie” and this has made up for the many rejections. Below is part of the introduction and first paragraph from “Maggie” and the photo of my grandparents on their wedding day May 19th 1921.

In the summer of 1913 Dublin’s working class boil was ready to burst. However, James Connelly and James Larkin were waiting in the wings with a hot poultice to lance the festering sore.

James Connelly, receding hair line, a thick moustache that did not hide his handsome face. Who quoted “The Irish people will only be free when they own everything from the plough and stars” A charismatic man, a writer and a great orator. James Larkin known as Jim Larkin, striking strong features with bright intelligent eyes. Both were born in the British isles of Irish parents.

James Connolly and Jim Larkin formed the Irish Labour Party in 1912 and were leaders of ‘The Irish Transport and General Workers Union General Workers Union’ and both were paramount to the 1913 ‘Lockout’ Jim Larkin quoted “The great appear great because we are on our knees, let us rise” And many did rise.

The Crosbie sisters, Chrissie and Maggie lived in frightening and sometime exhilarating life changing times and were aggrieved when the tram workers were sacked for wanting to join a union. Chrissie worked at Jacob’s biscuit factory and Maggie worked at Leinster Sewing Factory. Both factories came out and many others came out in support of the sacked tram workers.

Chapter 1

Mother and daughter stood in the kitchen. The cold from the flagstones eased the heat and the open door brought a pleasant breeze along with the dust from the yard. This made Chrissie sneeze, she wiped her nose, clipped a strand of her ash blond hair back, while her mother gave an angry look.

“Mammy, I had to come out, it is unfair we should have the right to join a union. A union can help and protect us in our fight for better pay and working conditions.”

“Chrissie, I rely on yours and Maggie wage, now all I have is the boys’ money from their small delivery round and Essie’s wage. James’ health is not good and neither is Essie’s. That girl picks up everything that passes through Dublin. To top it all, this woman Dora Montefiore – and English too! – Wants to take the poor children of Dublin over to England and have them live with Protestant families. Father O’Reilly told us all about it in mass.”

“Mammy, you do not understand, she is on our side. Children are starving and she is helping us, unlike this government.”

I will never give up on “Maggie”

I am a poet by trade in April I will be launching my 4th collection titled “Between Aurora and Twilight” published by BBTS Publications Est Feb 2012. “Between Aurora and Twilight” includes my walks, thoughts on past and present. The introduction and first paragraph of “Between Aurora and Twilight”

Aurora is the Latin mythological name for the goddess of dawn. Dawn occurs before sunrise, before the top of the sun reaches the horizon. Aurora is the point of which it becomes possible to detect light in the sky and I like that light. I often witness the sky spreading brooding blue to mauve, then creating holes of gold and pastel shades similar to those that Monet painted, and if there are clouds, colours of burnt gold and orange. Autumn and winter are the best times for the goddess of dawn, Aurora.

Twilight, dusk, daylight and darkness defused pastel shades, where the sun is below the horizon yet its rays are scattered by the earth’s atmosphere creating (depending on clouds) pastel shades and in autumn and winter bonfires of colours roaring across the sky.

At this time of the day, I feel my senses more heightened and more alive. “Between Aurora and Twilight” is about my dawn and dusk walks, entwined with the past and my thoughts and how through walking I found a compass of compassion and my true north.

Between Aurora and Twilight

December

I watched a bonfire of a sunset, blazing reds scorched gold and charcoal grey as I breathed in winter. Behind me there is a black velvet sky. I turned and looked through my binoculars at Caris Major commonly known as the Dog Star. Sirius was shining. Sirius is twenty times brighter than the sun, to the Plough with its seven bright stars, smaller than a constellation. I followed the shape of the Plough and found the North Star, Polaris. Polaris is famous for holding nearly still in our sky while the entire northern sky moves around and always visible in the night sky. Orion is the brightest and most beautiful of the winter constellations. The cold night air seeped through my Arctic coat I stamped my boots on the hard frosted ground and heard a swoosh sound, a barn owl quietly swept past me. I was once told a barn owl’s mortality peaks between December and March. The main cause of death associated with winter mortality, is starvation, also as all birds of prey with soft wings,they are not good in the rain.

I opened our garden gate and the glow of the candle light from the candles I lit before I went on my twilight walk burn softly reflected lights of gold in the downstairs windows. Inside their warmth greeted my red cold cheeks and the scent reminded me of Holy Mass. It is the much lapsed Catholic in me that likes candles. All my schooling was Catholic. Today I think faith based schools should be banned, religion is a personal choice and should be left at home where it belongs and in its place let’s have philosophy, wouldn’t it be good to have children as young as five debating. Shadows of my husband in the hallway turning the heating on that has not been on since April. The radiators made its familiar clicking sound adding warmth but I still miss our open fire.

We look the other way because it is safer while Idlib and others suffer!

Last night I watched independent news on #Idlib the humanitarian catastrophe of the fearful and displaced Syrians being bombed by their own. The poem “Leila” I wrote in 2014 was published in Red Poets magazine. The poem is so apt for today. We look the other way because it is safer while #Idlib and others suffer!
Empathy is your pain in my heart #Idlib

Below is my poem Leila that I wrote in 2014 and was published in Red Poets magazine

Leila

Underneath tiled history

below Tamerlane bloodied earth.

The beauty spot on the desert

herbed oiled, damask rose.

Now, among the rubble stands Leila

blood trickles down her right cheek

hair matted covered in dust.

Above Sky ablaze scorched orange,

slashed, scarred land, gaping hole exposing souls.

The smell of cardamom cakes is not there, neither is her mother

Bewildered, eyes full of confusion and despair.

Ears deafened to the screams, sirens and bomb blasts

Now she stands among what was once her home.

Tear stained cheeks she wipes snort from her nose,

lips cracked and dried her dress stained by

the blood of others is torn and dirty.

While the West waits for the dust to settle, sea of death to dry up.

Waits for the monopoly of this essential commodity called

GAS.

Leila stands on top of tiled history, Tamerlane’s bloodied earth.

The beauty spot of the desert,

herbed oil damask rose as been replaced with hate.

Julie Pritchard 2014

Aberfan

It was 53 years ago today that Aberfan happened. I was school girl myself, I recall sat on the arm of my mothers chair we were both looking at the photos in the Echo, and both of us were crying. Three years ago I attended the 50th Anniversary of Aberfan at the Red House Merthyr. I read out my poem that I wrote titled “Above an Autumn Mist”

This is the poem.

Above an Autumn Mist

Above an autumn mist

below slipped away to a flow slide tsunami

springs and streams flooded the houses and Taff

dividing the village of Aberfan

where the earth moved to bare hands.

Betrayal born of a miner’s son and robbed by a lord from the national coal board.

Trees bloomed and blossom in the garden where class rooms lay bare not to be forgotten.

Seeded fruitful planted to live on in our hearts.

Mam’s tears, dada’s sighs siblings grow old yet they remain forever young.

Julie Pritchard

Not fearing where I walk.

Photo of the path that I have walked for over 20 years. It is even pretty in the rain.

Sometimes I take the train to work and walk the cycling tracks and lanes. Tuesday 3rd September I got off the train at Hengoed and at 8 45am I walked up the cycling track, that leads to Bedlinog. Walking towards me was a tall, thin young man wearing bright red trainers, with white soles. As I drew near he sat on the wall that was once a halt. In his left hand he had a green plastic lighter in his right hand a spliff from the stench I knew it was skunk. (No I have never done drugs but I know what drugs are) As I walked alongside I spoke to the young man to show I was not afraid “Good Morning” he mumbled morning back. I walked past, heard the bird song, looked up at the canopy of trees and tried not to breathe in the skunk. My inner self told me to turn around. So I did. The young drug taker exposed himself and played with himself and laughed. I called him a F…ing pervert and quickly got off the cycling track.

At my place of work I phoned the police out of concern, not for me but that could have been an elderly or young person. Later the police informed me not to walk that route again. Please! I have walked through Europe, many coastal paths throughout Wales and England, Mountains North and South of Ireland and Hadrian’s wall alone. I replied no I will never stop walking that route.

I asked why is it accepted to smoke that stuff in public open spaces but not just in public places. I walk alone through country lanes and there are groups sat in cars stupified in the shit that they smoke. I look around me at nature and avoid their lifeless stares. The police reply they are short staffed .

I think on the young lad that was stoned how would he feel if he looked back at that incident sober. I would like to think he would be mortified.

For many days after this incident I allowed that young doped up man to walk through my mind with his dirty feet. My mother being in hospital and becoming seriously ill stopped the junkie from walking through my mind with his dirty feet. Anger was replaced by empathy and compassion.

Out for a late afternoon walk and observed these beautiful starlings sat on the wire of anticipation. PS Such beautiful cloud formation too.

Sometimes it is the simple things that matter the most.