Dark Irish past is at the heart of Cork author's new book

A Cork author addresses a dark part of Ireland's past in her new novel ‘You Were Always Mine’, writes Chris Dunne
Dark Irish past is at the heart of Cork author's new book

A section of the front cover of 'You Were Always Mine' by Majella Lordan.

TEACHER and mother-of-three Majella Lordan, who lives in Buttevant, always knew there was a book in her. And she always felt writing about something you know is the way to go about it.

“I went back to college as a mature student,” says Majella. “There was a girl in my class a bit older than me, who was also studying Psychology, and when we were in a small group, we got to know each other better.”

Sometimes, discussions in intimate groups reveal things about people.

“People’s stories come out,” says Majella. “And this girl basically got pregnant in the 1970s or early ’80s, when it was frowned upon outside of marriage. Her parents were die-hard Catholics who wouldn’t hear of it and they sent her to a home.”

“This girls’ home was ruled with an iron fist,” says Majella. 

“She had her son who she saw for the first hour before he was fostered. She got him back years later but the two had no relationship.”

Hearing her class-mates’ back story associated with the Magdalene laundry institutions and the stories of survivors in the news, Majella had her idea and her inspiration for her book, You Were Always Mine.

“Those stories resonated with everybody,” says Majella.

They resonated with Majella too.

“They stuck in my mind, then I lost interest for a while until my interest was re-kindled in college, meeting the woman in my group who had been through her own ordeal.”

Majella could identify with her.

“I’m from Duhallow, a small village. I understand how judgemental people can be. Talking to friends, I realised how much history is associated with the Magdelene Laundries.”

Majella always loved writing.

“I always enjoyed writing and I often wrote short stories in my notebook. I wanted to put pen to paper and Covid seemed to be the perfect opportunity.”

Is You Were Always Mine based on her college friend’s story?

“It is loosely based on her story,” says Majella. “And I also researched documents and testaments while writing the book.”

She also works two jobs, has a husband, Damien, and three children under 10!

“Yes, I’m a full-time teacher with the COPE Foundation and I also teach in Abode part-time,” says Majella.

So writing a book was a big ask?

“My mother thought I took on too much! Writing the book was a juggling act when I worked three days at home and three days in the office,” says Majella.

She burned the midnight oil.

“I did a lot of writing at night and any opportunity I got during the winter months. I thought, it’s now or never! I made the most of every day; my aim was not to put it off. I knew I had the story in me.”

She lived and breathed the breathtaking story that introduces us to Professor Kitty Hyde, neé Cahill, who travels to the USA in the wake of her true love and marries him. The couple, Kitty and Daniel, live happily until Daniel dies prematurely.

Kitty’s two sons are there for her when she herself has a health scare, as well as a new younger colleague at Kitty’s college. Tess befriends Kitty, who becomes the younger woman’s mentor. Going through volumes of works provided by Kitty to help her with her thesis, Tess discovers journals written by Kitty that reveal a former life of youthful happiness, then sadness and tragedy.

The whole story is an absorbing one. What lies beneath Kitty’s past? 

This woman who is highly regarded by her peers and her students has a hurtful hidden secret since her innocent youth. 

What could it possibly be that blighted Kitty’s carefree days of her youth? How was her youth snatched away? Wasn’t Kitty an only beloved child, cherished by her parents who were well-to–do landowners? And yet.....

Majella weaves an un-put-downable saga that takes us to an Ireland of old, to San Francisco, to intricate relations between foes and friends. She inter-weaves past and present with great skill, reeling in the reader to the compelling climax.

Majella, intent on her story, never got writer’s block.

“I’d wake at 3am thinking about it,” she says.“It became like an obsession of sorts. The powers-that-be and how protection of religious orders happened troubled me. The laundries continued and it was a shameful part of our history that was brushed under the carpet for so long. It was a horrible thing in the past that happened.”

A horrible thing happens to Kitty Cahill, a promising student from ‘good stock’, who was destined for Trinity College. Then what?

Because You Were Never Really Mine is a riveting read where a series of events lead to a confrontation of the past and demons are put to bed, and because you too will burn the midnight oil reading this gem by Majella Lordan, I won’t reveal the Big Reveal or whether the ending is happy or conclusive. Just know this author has secured a two-book deal, which is no surprise given her writing prowess.

I can tell you, though, that You Were Always Mine is a thumping good read and a page-turner. That’s for sure.

You Were Always Mine by Majella Lordan is available in all good bookshops and on Amazon from November.

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