By Eileen O’Finlan
About Erin’s Children
The Sequel to Kelegeen
BWL Publishing, Inc. (December 1, 2020
Number of Pages ~325
Amazon and GoodReads Links – Coming Soon
In 1851 Irish Famine survivor, Meg O’Connor, buys passage to America for her younger sister, Kathleen, and arranges employment for her as a maid. Kathleen’s feisty spirit soon puts her at odds with her employers, the bigoted and predatory Pratts. Driven from their home, Kathleen ends up on a wild adventure taking her to places she could never have imagined.
As a domestic servant in the Worcester, Massachusetts home of the kindly Claprood family, Meg enjoys a life beyond her wildest imaginings. Yet she must keep her marriage to Rory Quinn a secret. Rory, still in Ireland, eagerly awaits the day he will join her. But as the only jobs open to Irish men pay poorly, Rory’s imminent arrival threatens to plunge her back into dire poverty.
On the eve of the Civil War, while America is being rent asunder by the fight over slavery, Irish Catholics wage their own war with the growing anti-immigrant Know Nothing party. Through grave doubts, dangers, and turmoil, Meg and Kathleen must rely on their faith and the resilient bonds of sisterhood to survive and claim their destinies in a new and often hostile land.
A word from Maureen Linton
My name is Maureen Linton. I've been asked to tell you a bit about my life in America. My husband Darien and I came here before the starving began in Ireland. It was a good decision as things back home became unbearable. Years went by with them having no food to speak of. The blight that killed the potato crops ravage the whole of Ireland. Hundreds of thousands died. Hundreds of thousands more left for other countries. My sister, Clodagh and her daughter, Aoife were among them. They'd lost the rest of their family. Getting out was their only hope. I only wish they'd come sooner and brought the others before the Hunger took them, but I suppose the price of passage was too dear.
Clodagh's parish priest, Father O'Malley, bless his heart, knew of a young woman named Meg who was about to travel on her own to America. As they would leave Ireland on the same ship, he asked Clodagh if Meg could travel with them. Of course, she agreed. She promised Meg's mam that she'd look after her like she was her very own. She kept that promise well, too. Once they docked in Boston, Meg thought she'd be left to her own devices, but Clodagh wouldn't hear of it. She and Aoife brought Meg to us in Worcester. We didn't know Meg was coming, but we didn't mind. We can always find room for whoever needs it.
Now that doesn't mean we have much to spare. Darien works in a wire factory. It pays little, just enough to cover the rent for our rooms in the Arcade. The Arcade is the tenement building where we live. It's a big place, five stories high, but it's not much to look at. All who live here are poor. It's hard for our men to find work in America. So many places looking for help won't hire Irish. When they do find employment, they don't get much pay. But Darien was fortunate to find a job. He works hard to keep it, too. We've got five bairns now and that's a lot of mouths to feed. I take in laundry to pay for food. We've not much furniture. We sleep on the floor. But we're a family and we're together and, for us, that's what matters most.
So when Clodagh and Aoife arrived with Meg we welcomed them all. It was a day of rejoicing to have my sister who I hadn't seen in years and my niece who'd been but a wee one before I left Ireland finally with us.
Meg was a delight though she didn't stay with us long. A bright, determined lass, she set out right away to find employment and got herself a position in one of the houses up on Crown Hill working for a fine Yankee family. She even sent us her first week's salary to repay us for while she was here. We didn't expect it, but it was thoughtful of her and right welcomed.
Meg didn't forget us after she left the Arcade. We saw her in church every Sunday. Had her to our rooms afterwards often. After she paid the passage for her sister, Kathleen, and knew she was on her way, Meg came to me with a plan. She'd procured a job for Kathleen at the home of her employer's business partner. Kathleen was to go there the day after she arrived in Worcester. Meg knew the clothes Kathleen would arrive in would be little more than rags so she bought some lovely calico fabric and worked many a Thursday afternoon making a proper dress for her sister. When it was finished she left it with me. She was bringing Kathleen to our rooms at the Arcade as soon as she arrived. The dress was a gift to Kathleen so she could hold her head up when she went to meet her employers. That's typical of Meg. She's the sort that thinks ahead and finds a way to make things happen.
I only wish my niece, Aoife, had a bit of Meg's spunk. Aoife's a dear, sweet lass, but she settles too easily. She works in the factory alongside Clodagh sewing shoe and boot leathers, earning far too little to ever get out of the Arcade. For Clodagh, it's the best job she could hope for as she can sit at the machine. Her legs don't hold her up for long – a lasting effect of starving. But Aoife could do what Meg and Kathleen do. She could cook and clean for a Yankee family. She won't, though. She can't bear to think of her mam struggling in that dingy factory without her. It's a good, kind heart Aoife has, but we all wish she'd find better for herself.
Of course, it wouldn't be better at all if she ended up with a family like the Pratts who employ Kathleen. They're a terror Aoife could never endure. Kathleen's stubborn and determined like her sister, but for how long she'll be able to tolerate their abuse remains to be seen.
About Eileen O’Finlan
Eileen O’Finlan writes historical fiction, telling the stories on history’s margins, the things rarely taught in the classroom. For her, that’s where history really gets fun. Her promise to her readers is to craft stories that will thoroughly immerse them in another time and place.
Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, her family moved to Worcester when she was two. Four years later they moved to Holden where Eileen grew up and where she now resides.
Eileen holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry. She works full time for the Diocese of Worcester and teaches online courses in Catholic studies for the University of Dayton, Ohio. Erin’s Children is her second novel and the sequel to her debut novel, Kelegeen.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eileenofinlanauthor/ ;
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eileenofinlan ;
BWL Publishing, Inc. Author Page: http://bookswelove.com/o-finlan-eileen/Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N –
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