Books

The House Remembers

Born Ann Kearney in Burncourt, every part of the author’s life has been captured by her vivid memory, and the qualities of her people – generous, sensible, wise, learned, self-effacing – have all come to fruition in this work. Her style is homely and lively, her great gift is minuteness of description and a keen sense of the moment. Her writing has something of a camera-quality, and that is very valuable for all of us who wish to learn. With her, we observe and experience the actions, which show character, we hear the voices, we sense the occasion, and we see the shades of light and the mingling of colours.
Ann describes with verve and no small amount of humour the life lived by many of us for several years in urban flatlands, the sense of independence that we enjoyed but which alternated with a searing longing for the community life with different accents and different sensitivities – all of course inherent in the rich variety if place and custom which is the human experience. And then there is the lyrical note – her romance with the brilliant traditional musician Bobby Gardiner who became her husband,not to mention the joy of rearing children in a happy family.
On the broader plane, it can be said that Ann Gardiner represents our success in maintaining continuity between past and present in Ireland. Her own young family reflects the same basic values as the family who reared her, new sentiment reflects the old in changing circumstances, the spirit of human feeling persists and stretches into the future. This is a book which upholds all of that, which is quiet in its confidence, fulfilling rather than deceptive in its simplicity, and most of all enjoyable in its reading.
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Paraffin Lamp Days

In Paraffin Lamp Days, Ann Gardiner has tackled the difficult, but intrinsically Irish, short story genre. Many of the stories in this book, while  fiction, are based on actual people and events of the era in which the author grew up. Those were the days of thinning the turnips, taking milk to the creamery and threshing the corn when the meitheal were called on to help. Times when their hard work was rewarded by a night of dancing and singing in the kitchen and maybe a mug of porter and tea for the ladies: or when a visitor was roped in to say their decade of the rosary!  is heart-warming, sparklingly beautiful book is evocative of an era of innocence long gone with the wind. It will make you laugh and maybe even elicit a tear. A part of our past that was delightful, sad, poignant, beautiful and humorous has been skilfully and evocatively captured and brought to life by one of my favourite authors, from whom, I suspect we shall hear so much more.

Tom Ryan

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