Since its inception as a semi-autonomous country within the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has survived the convulsions of the Civil War, the privations of the Second World War, the abortive IRA campaign of violence in the 1950s, and the student-led agitation for civil rights in the 1960s that led to over thirty years of brutal terror, euphemistically referred to as The Troubles.
Nora Carrick lives through those turbulent times with demons of her own: the loss of a lover; one failed marriage, another barely surviving; a contentious, divided, dysfunctional family; and most demonic of all a debilitating, life-threatening epilepsy. Nora fights all of these demons with that stoic independence of spirit inherited from her MacLir family ancestry.
Liam paused and waited. He was sweating and felt almost sick. He had carefully rehearsed this speech in his mind as he sat in the peaceful dimness of the church. But he was not sure that it had turned out as he had planned it, that he had said all he wanted to say, the way he wanted to say it. He watched Nora anxiously for her reaction.
She sat in the same position as before, immobile and pale as an ivory madonna. ‘You grossly underestimate the power and the worth of real love, Liam,’ she said quietly and calmly, though her nerves quivered like taut strings plucked by insensitive fingers. ‘How can you say so cavalierly that “the incident will be closed”? The “incident”, as you call it, will never be closed as long as Joe and I are living.’ She rose from the chair and stood defiantly with the finger-tips of her right hand resting on the edge of the table. ‘I am sorry that this “incident” caused you grief. I did not mean to hurt you. But I stand here before you unrepentant. To say otherwise would be to deny my love for Joe. That is impossible. Nor shall I go and confess to Father Halferty, for that would be debasing my love for Joe by equating it with sin. I am married to you, Liam, but my undying love is and will forever be for Joe Carney. Nothing will ever change that. I shall stay with you for as long as you want me. I shall care for you and your home and raise your children. I shall respect your marital rights to my body. But I shall always love Joe Carney. Do not ask any more of me than that, for any more than that I cannot give.’
Nora turned abruptly from the kitchen table and climbed the stairs to the bedroom. She did not look down at her dejected husband. He remained motionless before the cooking-range fire, staring still at the space she had just vacated. At last he slumped into the armchair and ran his trembling fingers through his trimmed, wispy hair. Then he covered his face with his open hands and wept like a broken-hearted woman.
about the author
Born and raised in Northern Ireland, Ron Duffy has travelled extensively in both western and eastern Europe, mostly by bicycle, with working sojourns” in Norway, Austria and England. Adventuring over, he settled to studies, and obtained a BA in Geography from Queen’s University in Belfast. As a student there he became involved in the activism that led to the start of the Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969. That year he emigrated to Canada where he took an MSc at the University of Calgary and studied for his PhD at McGill University in Montreal. In Montreal he started a long career as a university lecturer in Geography.
His writing career began when he started publishing mostly travel and history articles in numerous Irish, British and Canadian newspapers and magazines. In 1988, McGill-Queen’s University Press published his book, The Road to Nunavut: The Progress of the Eastern Arctic Inuit since World War II. The popular Canadian author Pierre Berton in particular liked this book and used excerpts from it in his own coffee- table book Winter.
As a student and then a university lecturer in Montreal and Calgary, creative writing gave way to preparing lectures. Duffy continued to write more creatively, if less productively, in his spare time, and now that he has retired from lecturing he is writing full time. Two of his novels, Crossed Lives and The Janus Web are available as ebooks. He is currently working on a historical novel based on the life of the Irish highwayman Redmond O’Hanlon.
Duffy is married, has two sons, and now lives in Surrey, British Columbia, with his wife, Joanne, and two Jack Russell dogs.