Transcript: Robert Adams on Nuala's O'Faolain's book My Dream of You | Nov 09, 2003

Robert Adams stands behind a wooden lectern on a stage, and addresses an audience mainly made of women in their fifties and sixties.
Robert is in his late sixties, balding, with a full white beard. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit with a matching shirt, and a spotted red tie.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Robert Adams. Nuala O'Faolain. 'My dream of you.'"

Robert puts on a pair of glasses and says
AND NOW NUALA
O'FAOLAIN'S "MY DREAM OF YOU."
SHE IS A REMARKABLE WOMAN,
NUALA O'FAOLAIN.
SHE ISN IRISH WOMAN.
62 YEARS OLD, AND ON A RECENT
INTERVIEW ON ONE OF THE NEW
YORK CITY TALK SHOWS, THE FIRST
QUESTION SHE HAD FROM THE
INTERVIEWER WAS.
MISS O'FAOLAIN, YOU HAVE SLEPT
WITH DOZENS AND DOZENS AND
DOZENS OF MEN.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues AND NUALA
O'FAOLAIN SAID, YES, YES.
AND I HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THAT A
LITTLE BIT.
A LITTLE BIT OF BIOGRAPHY OF
NUALA O'FAOLAIN.
SHE WAS BORN 62 YEARS AGO JUST
OUTSIDE DUBLIN.
SHE IS THE SECOND OF NINE
CHILDREN.
AHEM.
HER FATHER WAS A NEWSPAPER
GOSSIP COLUMNIST WHO WAS RARELY
AT HOME.
HE WAS THE CLASSIC, ABSENTEE
FATHER.
AND HER MOTHER WAS A COLD,
UNFEELING, ALCOHOLIC.
NUALA O'FAOLAIN HAD A
REMARKABLE EDUCATION.
SHE STUDIED ON SCHOLARSHIP AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF DUBLIN.
AND THEN AT THE UNIVERSITIES OF
HULL AND OXFORD IN ENGLAND.
SHE HAS DEGREES IN MEDIEVAL
LITERATURE, 19TH CENT, 19TH
CENTURY LITERATURE AND IN
FRENCH.
FOR MOST OF HER ADULT LIFE SHE
HAS MADE A LIVING FROM THE
MEDIA.
SHE WAS A, A BOOK REVIEWER FOR
THE LONDON TIMES.
A TELEVISION PRODUCER FOR BBC
TELEVISION, AND FOR IRISH TV.
AND SHE LECTURED IN MEDIA
STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY IN
DUBLIN.
FOR VERY MANY YEARS SHE HAD A
DAILY OPINION COLUMN, VERY
WIDELY READ IN THE IRISH TIMES.
AND IN 1996, AN IRISH PUBLISHER
APPROACHED HER AND SAID WE'D
LIKE TO PUT OUT A COLLECTION OF
YOUR BEST NEWSPAPER COLUMNS.
NUALA O'FAOLAIN DECIDED TO
PREFACE THE COLLECTION OF
COLUMNS WITH A SLICE OF
AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
AND THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL
INTRODUCTION TO HER MEMOIR,
WHICH IS CALLED, "THE
ACCIDENTAL MEMOIR OF A DUBLIN
WOMAN," WAS SO WELL RECEIVED IN
IRELAND, THAT WHEN THE BOOK WAS
TAKEN UP BY BRITISH AND
AMERICAN PUBLISHERS THEY LEFT
OUT THE OPINION COLUMNS AND
ASKED HER TO ENLARGE THE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY.

[Audience murmurs]

Robert says AND IT WAS
PUBLISHED AS "THE ACCIDENTAL
MEMOIR OF A DUBLIN WOMAN, ARE
YOU SOMEBODY"?
NUALA O'FAOLAIN WITH HER
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, JOINED THE LIKES
OF JAMES JOYCE, BRENDAN BIEN
AND FRANK MCCOURT, AS A
CHRONICLER OF IRISH PAIN.
AS SHE SAYS IN HER
AUTOBIOGRAPHY SPEAKING OF HER
EIGHT SIBLINGS, ONE OF WHOM
DRANK HIMSELF TO DEATH, I QUOTE
FROM THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
"MY BROTHER AND I ARE CARRYING
THE IRISH SICKNESS.
DRINK FOR MEN, ANGER FOR
WOMEN."
AND THERE HAS INDEED BEEN PAIN,
DRINK, AND ANGER IN NUALA
O'FAOLAIN'S LIFE.
IN HER AUTOBIOGRAPHY SHE SAYS SHE HAS NO HAPPY MEMORY OF
CHILDHOOD.
NEVER ONCE.
NOT ONCE DID HER FAMILY EVER GO
ON AN OUTING.
SHE SAYS IN HER AUTOBIOGRAPHY
THAT SHE HAS NEVER BEEN ABLE TO
EXERCISE THE GHOST OF HER
MOTHER.
QUOTE, "THE PRIMITIVE HOSTILITY
MY MOTHER EXPRESSED IN HER
DRINKING."
IN 1997, AFTER HER
AUTOBIOGRAPHY WAS PUBLISHED IN
THE UNITED STATES, SHE CAME
FROM IRELAND TO NEW YORK CITY
TO BE PART OF A PROMOTIONAL
TOUR.
AND SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH NEW
YORK CITY.
AS SHE SAYS IN HER SECOND
MEMOIR, SHE PUBLISHED THE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, THEN THE NOVEL,
"MY DREAM OF YOU," AND THEN A
SECOND VOLUME OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY,
"ALMOST THERE."
AND SHE SAYS IN THAT SECOND
VOLUME, QUOTE, "I LOVE NEW
YORK.
I FIND IT COMPLETELY
LIBERATING.
A GREAT, BIG IMMIGRANT PLACE.
EVERYONE IS ON THERE WAY
SOMEWHERE ELSE.
I THINK IT'S WONDERFUL.
THE HISTORY OF IMMIGRATION, OF
SELF-BELIEF.
NEW YORK IS A GREAT CREDIT TO
THE HUMAN RACE."
SHE SPENT A STRAIGHT 18 MONTHS
IN NEW YORK CITY, AND IT WAS
THERE THAT SHE BEGAN TO WRITE
TONIGHT'S NOVEL, "MY DREAM OF
YOU."
AND NOW SHE DIVIDES HER TIME,
SIX MONTHS A YEAR IN IRELAND,
IN HER COTTAGE IN COUNTY CLARE,
AND SIX MONTHS A YEAR IN NEW
YORK CITY.
ACCORDING TO HER TWO VOLUMES OF
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, IN WHICH SHE
SPEAKS VERY FRANKLY ABOUT HER
LIFE, SHE HAS BEEN PROMISCUOUS
SINCE HER ADOLESCENCE.
SHE HAS INDEED SLEPT WITH
DOZENS AND DOZENS AND DOZENS
AND DOZENS OF MEN.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues SHE HAS SLEPT,
THIS 62 YEAR OLD WOMAN, SHE HAS
SLEPT WITH ANYBODY WHO ASKED
HER.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues SHE ALSO HAD A
15 YEAR RELATIONSHIP, A LIVE-IN
RELATIONSHIP WITH ANOTHER
WOMAN.
BUT THAT DIDN'T DIMINISH HER
HETEROSEXUAL ACTIVITY, AND THE
15 YEAR OLD AFFAIR ENDED BADLY.
IN RECENT YEARS, IN 50 MONTHS
OF THE LAST SIX YEARS, SHE ALSO
HAD AN AFFAIR WITH A MUCH OLDER
MAN.
A MARRIED MAN.
AN IRISH TRUCK DRIVER.
SHE PICKED HIM UP IN A BAR, AND
WHENEVER HE WAS DRIVING,
WHENEVER HE PHONED HER, AN
HOUR, TWO HOURS, THREE HOURS,
FOUR HOURS AWAY, SHE WOULD
DRIVE ALL THAT TIME TO HAVE SEX
WITH HIM IN A BACKSTREET HOTEL.
THEY RARELY SPOKE.
ALL NUALA O'FAOLAIN'S IRISH
LOVER HAD TO SAY TO HER WAS
QUOTE, ON THE PHONE, "IS THAT
MY LITTLE GIRL?"
AND SHE MELTED AND SHE DROVE
AND THEY HAD SEX.
THERE HAS BEEN IN THE LIFE OF
THIS 60 YEAR OLD WOMAN, ONE
MAJOR RECENT DEVELOPMENT.
BUT I WILL LEAVE THAT FOR THE
END OF MY TALK.

[Audience groaning]
[Audience murmuring]

Robert says BY HER OWN
ADMISSION, NUALA O'FAOLAIN HAS
NEVER MARRIED, HAS NEVER HAD A
CHILD.
SHE IS A WELL TRAVELLED, WELL
EDUCATED, HARD DRINKING,
PROMISCUOUS, FEMINIST, WHO HAS
NEVER FOUND THE LOVE THAT SHE
WAS DENIED IN CHILDHOOD BY HER
MOTHER AND FATHER.
AND IN SPITE OF HER
PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS AS A
WRITER, NUALA O'FAOLAIN HAS A
DEEP FEAR OF AN APPROACHING OLD
AGE, IN WHICH SHE WILL BE
CHILDLESS AND ALONE.
AND IF ANY OF YOU SEE A
CONNECTION BETWEEN THE WRITER
NUALA O'FAOLAIN AND THE
PROTAGANIST IN TONIGHT'S NOVEL,
"MY DREAM OF YOU," SO BE IT.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues I AM NOT A
BELIEVER THAT ALL WRITING IS
AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT
SHAKESPEARE IS MACBETH OR KING
LEAR.
I DON'T BELIEVE THAT
CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE IS
TAMBURLAINE.
BUT IT IS OBVIOUSLY TRUE THAT
ALL WRITERS, CULL SOME OF THEIR
MATERIAL FROM THEIR OWN LIFE
EXPERIENCES.
IT IS EQUALLY TRUE THAT A FIRST
NOVEL, AND "MY DREAM OF YOU,"
IS A FIRST NOVEL, THOUGH NOT A
FIRST BOOK.
THAT A FIRST NOVEL WILL TEND TO
HAVE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL
OVERTONES.
NUALA O'FAOLAIN MAKES NO SECRET
OF THIS, WHEN SHE TALKED ABOUT
THE NOVEL IN HER SECOND VOLUME
OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
HER CREATION, KATHLEEN DE
BURCA, IS TURNING 50.
WHEN NUALA O'FAOLAIN WROTE THE
NOVEL SHE WAS TURNING 60, AND A
DECADE MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
BUT THERE ARE FAR MORE
SIMILARITIES THAN DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN THE AUTHOR AND HER
PROTAGANIST.
BOTH THE NOVELIST AND HER
CHARACTER, ARE WOMEN WHO DO NOT
LOVE THEMSELVES.
AND THEY ARE BOTH THE DAUGHTERS
OF WOMEN WHO DID NOT LOVE
THEMSELVES.
THE CHANGE THAT TAKES PLACE IN
THE NOVEL, IN KATHLEEN DE
BURCA, ARE THE SAME CHANGES
THAT WERE TAKING PLACE IN THE
AUTHOR NUALA O'FAOLAIN, AS SHE
WROTE THE NOVEL.
AS SHE SAYS IN THE SECOND
VOLUME OF MEMOIR WRITTEN AFTER
THE NOVEL, QUOTE, "WHAT
HAPPENED TO KATHLEEN WASN'T
JUST A BYPRODUCT OF THE MAKING
OF A FICTION.
I WAS CHANGING MYSELF IN
SYMBIOSIS WITH MY HEROINE."
BUT WITHIN THE NOVEL, KATHLEEN
DE BURCA, IS NOT JUST A
FICTIONALIZED PORTRAIT OF NUALA
O'FAOLAIN.
SHE IS A FULLY, REALIZED PERSON
IN HER OWN RIGHT, AND AT THE
END OF THE NOVEL, THE
CHARACTER, KATHLEEN DE BURCA,
WILL MAKE A DECISION ABOUT LIFE
THAT WAS NOT THE DECISION THAT
THE AUTHOR INTENDED THAT SHE
MAKE WHEN SHE BEGAN WRITING THE
NOVEL.
AND IT IS NOW TIME THAT WE MEET
KATHLEEN DE BURCA.
ON HER BIRTH CERTIFICATE IN
IRELAND OUR PROTAGANIST IS
KOCHLEEN DEBURGO.
THE GAELIC PRONUNCIATION OF HER
NAME.
THE FAMILY NAME IN FACT HAD
ALWAYS BEEN BURKE.
BUT THE FATHER HAD CHANGED IT
TO DE BURCA OR DEBURGO, IN A
FIT OF IRISH PATRIOTISM.
IN THE NOVEL, KATHLEEN DE BURCA
WAS BORN ABOUT 1950 IN A SMALL
TOWN, KILCHRENNAN, IN THE
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND.
HER FATHER WAS A MINOR CIVIL
SERVANT, AN INSPECTOR OF
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES, WHO LOVED
HIS TITLE, INSPECTOR DE BURCA.
A MAN FULL OF HIS OWN
IMPORTANCE.
AND WHEN WE MEET KATHLEEN DE
BURCA, ON THE FIRST PAGES OF
THE NOVEL, SHE IS FOUR, 49
YEARS OLD.
JUST ABOUT TO TURN 50, AND WE
LEARN OF HER CHILDHOOD THROUGH
THE MEMORIES SHE HAS OF HER
CHILDHOOD, AND MEMORY WILL PLAY
A LARGE PART IN THE NOVEL.
WE LIVE MUCH OF THE NOVEL IN
THE MIND OF KATHLEEN DE BURCA.
AND ONE OF THE MANY VIRTUES OF
THE NOVEL IS THAT THE NARRATIVE
FOLLOWS THE PROCESSES OF THE
HUMAN MIND.
WE, HUMAN BEINGS, WE DO NOT
THINK IN LINEAR PROGRESSION
FROM "A" TO "B" TO "C" TO "D."
RATHER, THE HUMAN MIND IS A
MILESTORM.
A CONFUSION OF PAST AND
PRESENT.
WE PERFORM AN ACT IT AROUSES A
MEMORY, WHICH TAKES US TO
ANOTHER MEMORY, WHICH TAKES US
TO AN IMAGE OF THE PRESENT OR
THE PAST, WHICH BRINGS US BACK
TO THE PRESENT.
AND IT IS ONE OF NUALA
O'FAOLAIN'S GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS,
THAT BECAUSE OF HER
EXQUISITELY, CLEAN, PROSE, IT
IS NEVER DIFFICULT, I THINK IN
THE NOVEL, FOR US TO FOLLOW
KATHLEEN DE BURCA'S PROGRESS AS
SHE THINKS AND ACTS AND
REMEMBERS AND HOPES.
SHE REMEMBERS, 49 YEAR OLD,
KATHLEEN DE BURCA, THAT QUOTE,
"MY FATHER WAS ANGRY NEARLY ALL
THE TIME, AND MY MOTHER JUST
WENT AROUND IN A SILENT BUBBLE.
I DON'T KNOW WHY THEY BOTHERED
TO HAVE CHILDREN."
BUT THEY DID HAVE CHILDREN, MR.
AND MRS. DE BURCA.
THIS WAS CATHOLIC IRELAND IN
THE 1950S AND 60S.
THE TEACHINGS OF THE ROMAN
CATHOLIC CHURCH WERE WRITTEN
INTO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND, WHICH
GAINED ITS INDEPENDENCE FROM
ENGLAND IN 1922.
THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH
WERE WRITTEN INTO THE
CONSTITUTION.
ACCORDING TO THE CONSTITUTION
OF IRELAND, THERE COULD BE NO
DIVORCE, NO ABORTION, NO
TEACHING OF FAMILY PLANNING, NO
CONTRACEPTION.
AND, AND THIS IS KEY, IF A
PREGNT MOTHER'S LIFE WOULD
ENDANGER, THEY SAVED THE CHILD
AND NOT THE MOTHER.
MOST OF KATHLEEN DE BURCA'S
MOTHER'S CHILDREN DID NOT
SURVIVE CHILDBIRTH.
LIVING, THERE WERE ONLY THE
OLDER SISTER, NORA, KATHLEEN
HERSELF, HER YOUNGER BROTHER,
DANNY, AND ANOTHER YOUNGER
BROTHER, SEAN, WHO DIED WHEN HE
WAS SIX.
HALF A CENTURY LATER, KATHLEEN
DE BURCA TRIES TO CONSIDER HER
FAMILY OBJECTIVELY, FROM PAGE
21.
"MY FAMILY HAS BEEN THE SAME
SIZE AND SHAPE IN MY HEAD SINCE
I'VE RAN OUT OF IRELAND.
MOTHER, VICTIM.
NORA AND ME AND DANNY, AND
POOR, LITTLE, SEAN, NEGLECTED
VICTIMS OF HER VICTIMHOOD.
VILLAIN, FATHER.
OLD STYLE, IRISH, CATHOLIC,
PATRIARCH.
UNKIND TO WIFE, UNLOVING TO
CHILDREN, HARSH TO YOUNG
KATHLEEN WHEN SHE TRIED TO TALK
TO HIM."
SHE HAD ONE OR TWO HAPPY
MEMORIES OF HER CHILDHOOD.
WHEN SHE WON, AT THE AGE OF TEN
OR ELEVEN, TEN POUND IN AN
ESSAY WRITING CONTEST BY A
NEWSPAPER.
AND WHEN SHE WENT WITH HER
MOTHER TO SPEND THE MONEY TO
BUY HER MOTHER A NEW DRESS, SHE
SEES ON HER MOTHER'S ARMS THE
LIVID BRUISES.
THE HAPPY MEMORIES WERE FEW AND
FAR BETWEEN, AND THEY WERE
ALWAYS MODIFIED.
HER OLDER SISTER, NORA, FLED
FROM THE FAMILY TO AMERICA, TO
NEW YORK.
AND THAT'S LIKE AN ECHO OF WHAT
HAPPENED IN THE PREVIOUS
CENTURY, IN THE 1840S, WHEN SO
MANY IRISH FLED FROM STARVING
IRELAND TO THE NEW WORLD.
KATHLEEN'S OWN CRISIS COMES
AFTER SHE HAS SPENT TWO YEARS
AT TRINITY COLLEGE IN DUBLIN.
HER MOTHER, AS SHE REMEMBERS
HER YOUTH WHEN SHE WAS 20, HER
MOTHER IS PREGNANT AGAIN, IN
HOSPITAL IN DUBLIN, WITH CANCER
OF THE WOMB.
THE HOSPITAL IS CATHOLIC, SO
TERMINATING THE PREGNANCY,
REMOVING THE WOMB, OUT OF THE
QUESTION.
SO IS RADIATION THERAPY.
EVEN THE ADMINISTRATION OF
MORPHINE TO RELIEVE THE AGONY
OF CANCER, BECAUSE NOTHING IN
CATHOLIC IRELAND, MUST BE DONE
TO ENDANGER THE BIRTH OF THE
CHILD.
AND KATHLEEN IS CERTAINLY NOT
COMFORTED WHEN HER LANDLADY
MRS. O'CONNOR SAYS, "AH, MAYBE
IT'S PART OF GOD'S PLAN."

[Audience murmurs]

Robert says SHE BEGS HER
FATHER, KATHLEEN, 20 YEAR OLD
KATHLEEN, TO MOVE HER MOTHER
OUT OF THE CATHOLIC HOSPITAL TO
ONE OF THE FEW NON-CATHOLIC
HOSPITALS WHERE SHE MIGHT BE
SAVED.
OR AT LEAST THE AGONY RELIEVED.
AND I FOUND THE FATHER'S
REFUSAL, BRILLIANTLY DRAMATIC
AND REVEALING OF WHO HE WAS.
FROM PAGE 495, THE FATHER
SPEAKING.
"I'LL SAY IT JUST ONCE.
THAT'S MY CHILD, THE SAME AS
YOU ARE.
THE CHILD HAS AS MANY RIGHTS AS
YOU HAVE.
YOUR MOTHER IS MY WIFE.
YOUR MOTHER AND I WERE MARRIED
IN A CATHOLIC CHURCH, AND GOD
WILLING WE WILL BE MARRIED IN,
WE WILL BE BURIED IN A CATHOLIC
CEMETERY.
I'LL TAKE YOU TO COURT, I SAID.
DO, HE SAID.
AND GIVE US ALL A LAUGH.
THEN HE NODDED TO THE SECURITY
GUARD, THEY PUT OUTSIDE THE
DOOR OF MAMMY'S ROOM.
THAT'S HER HE SAID, POINTING TO
ME.
SHE'S NOT TO BE LET IN AT ANY
TIME."
THE YOUNG, KATHLEEN, 20 YEARS
OLD, PLANS TO KIDNAP HER MOTHER
AND TAKE HER TO SAFETY.
SHE SENDS HER MOTHER A NOTE TO
PREPARE FOR THE EVACUATION.
BUT THE MOTHER IS MOVED TO
ISOLATION AND SHE NEVER GETS
THE NOTE.
AND KATHLEEN LATER REMEMBERS,
PAGE 500.
"IT WAS THE WORST PAIN I HAVE
EVER KNOWN.
TO THINK THAT SINCE SHE DID NOT
GET MY NOTE, SHE MAY HAVE
BELIEVED IN THE THREE WEEKS OF
AGONY THAT REMAINED TO HER,
THAT I HAD ABANDONED HER."
AND IT IS THEN THAT KATHLEEN
MAKES HER DECISION, AS SHE
PUNCHES AND SPITS AT HER FATHER
IN THE CARPARK OUTSIDE THE
HOSPITAL.
QUOTE, "IF MURDERING POOR,
SICK, WOMEN LIKE MAMMY, WAS HOW
CHURCH AND STATE ACTED 2,000
YEARS AFTER CHRIST, I DIDN'T
WANT TO KNOW."
AND THE LAST LINE OF THAT
EPISODE IS GIVEN TO KATHLEEN'S
LANDLADY IN DUBLIN.
THE INDOMITABLE MRS. O'CONNOR.
KATHLEEN SAYS TO HER, QUOTE, "I
DON'T WANT TO LIVE IN IRELAND.
I DON'T EVER WANT TO SET FOOT
ON IRISH SOIL AGAIN."
AND MRS. O'CONNOR, WHO HAS
LEARNED LIKE ALL GOOD, CATHOLIC
IRISH WOMEN OF THAT PERIOD TO
BOW BEFORE GOD'S COSMIC PLAN,
SAYS A LINE THAT I FIND FUNNY
AND PEARL, MY WIFE, FINDS
HEARTBREAKING.
"AH, FOR GOD'S SAKE, IF THE
REST OF US CAN PUT UP WITH IT,
WHY CAN'T YOU"?
BY THE WAY, KATHLEEN'S VENOM
AGAINST HER FATHER IS NOT
NEARLY AS EXTREME AS HER
SISTER, NORA, WHO FLED TO
AMERICA.
KATHLEEN PHONES HER SISTER TO
SAY THAT MAMMY IS DYING.
SHE SHOULD COME, AND NORA SAYS,
I QUOTE, PAGE 489.
"SHE'S STILL NO GOOD TO ME.
THAT WOMAN NEVER DID OR SAID
ANYTHING IN HER LIFE THAT WAS
OF ANY USE TO ME.
AND SHE PUT UP WITH THAT OLD,
PIG.
I'D HAVE TO SEE HIM TOO IF I
CAME OVER.
WHY SHOULD I SPEND A THOUSAND
DOLLARS TO GO ALL THE WAY TO
IRELAND TO PUKE MY GUTS OUT AT
THE SIGHT OF HIM"?
AND SO COMES TO AN END,
KATHLEEN'S YOUTH.
SHE GOES TO ENGLAND, AND A NEW
STAGE IN HER LIFE.
BUT THAT NEW STAGE IN HER LIFE,
LIKE THE REST OF HER LIFE, WILL
BE MARKED BY THE SCARS OF HER
CHILDHOOD.
AND ALL THESE EARLY MEMORIES
ARE REVEALED TO US AT THE VERY
END OF THE NOVEL.
JUST AS KATHLEEN LEARNS VERY
LATE IN THE NOVEL, THAT HER
FATHER AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS
WIFE, HER MOTHER, MADE A SECOND
MARRIAGE.
AND SHE LEARNS THAT HIS SECOND
WIFE MADE HIM VERY MISERABLE.
AND I THINK THAT THERE IS JUST
ENOUGH CATHOLICISM LEFT IN
NUALA O'FAOLAIN THE AUTHOR, TO
INJECT THAT LOVELY, LITTLE
TOUCH OF DIVINE RETRIBUTION
INTO THE TEXT.
I KNOW THAT THE NEWS THAT
INSPECTOR DE BURCA WAS
MISERABLE IN HIS LATER LIFE,
PLEASED AT LEAST ONE READER OF
THE NOVEL.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues AS I'VE SAID
BEFORE, AS I'VE SAID TO YOU

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues AS I'VE SAID
BEFORE, AS I'VE SAID TO YOU
BEFORE, MY MOTHER TOLD ME, ROB,
YOU ARE A GOOD HATER.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues AFTER CATHOLIC
IRELAND CONDEMNS HER MOTHER TO
AN AGONIZING DEATH FROM CANCER,
KATHLEEN GOES TO LONDON.
ONE MIGHT WONDER WHY DOESN'T GO
TO NEW YORK TO JOIN HER SISTER,
NORA.
AND THE ANSWER IS THAT KATHLEEN
AS A RESULT OF HER CHILDHOOD IS
SOURED ON HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS.
SHE DOESN'T WANT TO BE CLOSE TO
HER NOW AMERICAN SISTER.
I QUOTE, KATHLEEN, PAGE 213.
"I DIDN'T REALLY KNOW HOW TO
TOUCH PEOPLE, EXCEPT AS PART OF
SEX."
NOW KATHLEEN GOES TO LONDON,
BUT SHE IS NOT NAIEVE ABOUT
LONDON, ABOUT ENGLAND.
SHE HAS WORKED THERE DURING
VACATIONS, WHEN SHE, AS, AS A
STUDENT.
SHE HAS SEEN THE SAME NOTICES
THAT HER FATHER ONCE SAW, WHEN
HE WORKED BRIEFLY IN ENGLAND.
I SAW THEM WHEN I CAME TO
LONDON.
IN 1954, WHEN I LEFT MY NATIVE,
SOUTH WALES.
NOTICES IN THE IRISH AREAS LIKE
HAMMERSMITH, WALESDON, HECTON,
NOTICES OUTSIDE BOARDING
HOUSES, NO BLACKS, NO IRISH.
ALL THROUGH THE NOVEL, KATHLEEN
DE BURCA LIVING IN LONDON,
BASED IN LONDON, WILL HAVE A
LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH
ENGLAND.
SHE ADMIRES THE BRAVERY OF THE
ENGLISH THAT SHE READ ABOUT
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR,
WHEN WE STOOD ALONE FROM 1939
TO 1941.
LATER IN THE NOVEL, WHEN AS A
WRITER SHE VISITS DACHAU AND
AUSCHWITZ, AND BUCHENWALD, SHE
EVEN PHONES THE IRISH NUNS WHO
TAUGHT HER AND SAYS.
WHY DID WE REMAIN NEUTRAL IN
THE WAR WHEN THE ENGLISH WERE
SO BRAVE?
BUT SHE ALSO KNOWS, KATHLEEN DE
BURCA THAT TO BE IRISH IN
ENGLAND, EVEN NOW IS TO BE
DESPISED.
TO BE LAUGHED AT.
WHATEVER KATHLEEN FEELS ABOUT
THE CATHOLIC ISLAND SHE HAS
REJECTED, SHE KNOWS SHE WILL BE
MADE TO FEEL HER IRISHNESS IN
EVERY WAKING MOMENT THAT SHE
SPENDS IN ENGLAND.
BUT, WHEN SHE IS 20 AND SHE
MUST LEAVE IRELAND, ENGLAND,
LONDON, HAVE ONE, GREAT VIRTUE.
HER FATHER DOESN'T LIVE THERE.
AND IT IS NEARBY, AND LONDON IS
A BIG CITY.
AND SO SHE GOES.
AND IN LONDON SHE TAKES NIGHT
COURSES IN JOURNALISM.
DURING THE DAY SHE SUPPORTS
HERSELF BY CLEANING PRIVATE
HOUSES AND PUBS.
SHE MEETS A LAW STUDENT, HUGO.
AHEM.
WHOSE FAMILY ARE GOING ON
HOLIDAY TO GREECE, AND THEY
ARRANGE TO MEET IN GREECE.
AND IN GREECE WHEN THEY MEET,
KATHLEEN IS ADMITTED INTO
PARADISE.
ON PAGE 244.
"I HAD LOST MY VIRGINITY SOON
AFTER I WENT TO DUBLIN, AND
AFTER THAT ALTHOUGH I KNEW LOTS
OF BOYS I NEVER HAD SEX WITH
THEM.
BUT NOW, IN GREECE, THE WHOLE
OF ME LIFTED TOWARD HUGO.
OUR EYES CLOSED AT THE END.
AS EACH OF US TURNED IN TOWARDS
OURSELVES, MY BEING WAS CAUGHT
UP IN A RIVER OF SENSATION THAT
RAN FASTER AND FASTER TOWARD A
SILKEN WEIR.
I HAS HELD ON THE EDGE FOR A
MOMENT AND THEN I WAS CARRIED
OVER.
I OVERFLOWED AND SLID OVER AND
WAS CARRIED DOWN INTO THE
THUNDER OF A WATERFALL.
THE EXPLOSION WENT EVERYWHERE,
SPRAY AFTER SPRAY AFTER DIAMOND
SPRAY OF IT.
I WEPT WITH HAPPINESS AND
RELIEF, AND HE HELD ME
PASSIONATELY CLOSE, AND I
WHISPERED TO HIM, THANK YOU,
THANK YOU.
AND WHEN THEY COME BACK TO
LONDON, KATHLEEN AND HUGO SET
UP HOME TOGETHER IN SOUTH
LONDON BY CLAPPEN COMMON, IN
THE EARLY 1970S.
AND NEAR CLAPPEN COMMON THEY
CREATE THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
THEY CREATE THE MICROCOSM OF
LOVERS THAT JOHN DUNNE SPOKE
ABOUT IN HIS POETRY.
FROM THE PAGE OF THE NOVEL, "HE
WAS DOING LAW IN THE DAYTIME
AND I THE JOURNALISM DIPLOMA AT
NIGHT.
BUT ON THE WEEKENDS WE PLAYED.
WE LIVED ON THE MATTRESS AS ON
A RAFT.
WE GATHERED EVERYTHING WE
NEEDED OR WANTED AROUND US ON
THE FLOORBOARDS, REACHING OUT
FOR THINGS FROM UNDER THE QUILT
WHEN IT WAS COLD.
AND IN SUMMER, SPRAWLING ACROSS
THE SUNLIT SHEETS."
BUT THE SERPENT WAS IN THE
GARDEN OF EDEN.
AND THE SERPENT, THE CANKOR,
WAS THE VISION THAT KATHLEEN
HAD LEARNED FROM HER PARENTS AS
A CHILD.
THAT WOMAN IS NO MORE THAN A
RECEPTACLE.
MUCH LATER, KATHLEEN WILL
REFLECT ON THAT CANKOR WITHIN
HER.
I QUOTE, PAGE 255.
"IT WAS DADDY'S FAULT FOR NOT
LOVING ME.
OR MAMMY'S FAULT FOR HAVING SEX
WITH DADDY WHEN THEY NEVER EVEN
TALKED TO EACH OTHER.
IT WAS CATHOLIC IRELAND'S
FAULT, FOR SENDING ME OUT INTO
THE WORLD WITHOUT A SHRED OF
INNER MORAL SENSE.
AND IT WAS ENGLAND'S FAULT, FOR
MAKING ME FEEL INFERIOR AND
UNWELCOME, EXCEPT WHEN SOMEONE
WANTED TO FUCK ME."
SHE HAS A LITTLE EDEN, DUNNE'S
MICROCOSM, THE PERFECT UNION OF
TWO LOVERS.
BUT WHEN SASHA, WHOM WE KNOW
ONLY AS QUOTE, "THE FRENCH GUY
FROM UPSTAIRS."
COMES INTO HER BATHROOM, SHE
STEPS OUT OF THE SHOWER, SHE
OFFERS NO RESISTANCE, AS SHE
SAYS, PAGE 248.
"MY MIND WAS COMPLETELY EMPTY.
HE JUST CAME INTO ME WITH EASE.
I WAS FULL OF HIM.
WHEN THE MOVEMENT STOPPED
BECAUSE HE WAS ALL THE WAY IN,
THAT WAS WHAT I WAS.
I WAS A RECEPTACLE THAT WAS
COMPLETELY AND DEEPLY FULL."
SHE STARTS TO SLEEP WITH SASHA,
WHENEVER HE WAITS FOR HER, WHEN
SHE COMES HOME FROM WORK.
AND AT WORK, SHE STARTS TO
PLEASURE THE JANITOR IN HIS
LITTLE ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS.
AND FOR A FEW MONTHS, SHE WAS
HAPPY.
I QUOTE HER.
"SHE WAS FULL OF CONFIDENCE AND
ENERGY.
SHE WAS GIVING SEXUAL
SATISFACTION TO THREE MEN AT
THE SAME TIME."
ACCORDING TO THE IMAGE OF WOMAN
SHE HAD RECEIVED IN CHILDHOOD,
THAT THEY ARE NO MORE THAN
RECEPTACLES FOR MEN.
SHE IS DOING THREE TIMES AS
WELL AS HER MOTHER.
AND THEN OF COURSE HUGO
DISCOVERS HER INFIDELITY.
HE THROWS HER OUT, AND SHE
THINKS LATER THAT PERHAPS SHE
MEANT HIM TO.
THAT SHE HAD ARRANGED HER OWN
EXPULSION FROM EDEN.
SHE HAD CAUSED HERSELF TO BE
FOUND OUT.
AND WHO KNOWS WHY SHE SHIED
AWAY FROM HAPPINESS?
WHY SHE SHIED AWAY FROM
PARADISE?
WAS IT MERELY HER LOW SELF-
IMAGE, THE IMAGE OF WOMAN
DERIVED FROM THE CATHOLIC
THEOCRACY OF IRELAND?
OR WAS THERE SOME ELEMENT OF
SELF-PUNISHMENT FOR FAILING TO
RESCUE HER MOTHER?
WE WILL NEVER KNOW, BECAUSE WHO
CAN KNOW THE HUMAN MIND?
AFTER SHE IS THROWN OUT BY
HUGO, SHE IS TAKEN IN BY A
FRIEND, CAROLINE.
BUT THAT RELATIONSHIP WITH
CAROLINE ENDS UNTIL CAROLINE
LATER FORGIVES HER.
WHEN SHE PERMITS CAROLINE'S
BOYFRIEND TO GROPE HER.
AND SHE PERMITS CAROLINE'S
FATHER TO MOLEST HER.
AND AT 25, KATHLEEN DE BURCA
ACCEPTS WHAT SHE THINKS SHE IS.
FOR THE NEXT 25 YEARS OF HER
LIFE UNTIL SHE IS 49, 50,
QUOTE, "FOR AS LONG AS I WAS
ASKED, AND NO MATTER HOW OFTEN
I WAS HUMILIATED, I ALWAYS SAID
YES.
BUT IT WAS SUCH AN EMPTY YES."
PASSION WAS SOMETHING SHE COULD
ONLY DREAM OF.
LOVE WAS SOMETHING OUTSIDE HER
SHE WILL MAKE HER LIVING,
WORKING AS A TRAVEL WRITER.
SHE WORKS FOR TRAVEL WRITE,
CAPITAL LETTERS.
THE TRAVEL SECTION OF A NEWS
DISTRIBUTION AGENCY, FOR WHOM,
FOR NEARLY 25 YEARS SHE WILL
CRISS-CROSS THE WORLD, FROM ONE
EXOTIC LOCATION TO ANOTHER,
CHURNING OUT ELEGANT, EMPTY,
TRAVEL COPY.
AT HOME IN LONDON WHERE SHE IS
BASED, SHE WILL BURY HERSELF
ALONE IN A BASEMENT JUST OFF A
DINGY AREA JUST NEAR THE
HOUSTON ROAD.
AND WHETHER IN LONDON OR
ABROAD, SHE WILL CONTINUE TO BE
AN EASY PICKUP.
BUT AS SHE PUTS IT QUOTE, PAGE
EIGHT.
"SEX WAS A HOTEL THING.
I DON'T THINK I'D HAVE LIKED TO
DISTURB THE PERFECT NOTHINGNESS
OF WHERE I LIVED."
AT WORK SHE HAS TWO FRIENDS.
HER AVUNCULAR BOSS, ALEX,
APPARENTLY ASEXUAL, WHO HAS THE
GOOD BREEDING TO APOLOGIZE FOR
HIS OCCASIONAL ANTI-IRISH
OUTBURSTS.
AND A GAY COLLEAGUE, JIMMY.
THEY CAN BE FRIENDS, EVEN
CONFIDANTES, BECAUSE THEY ARE
NO SEXUAL THREAT TO EACH OTHER.
JIMMY LIVES FEWER THAN 20
MINUTES AWAY IN SOHO.
AND IN THE NEARLY 25 YEARS THEY
WORK TOGETHER, THEY ARE NEVER
ONCE IN EACH OTHER'S HOMES.
TRAVEL WRITING SUITS KATHLEEN
DE BURCA PERFECTLY, BECAUSE AS
SHE SAYS, I QUOTE, "IT WAS THE
ONLY KIND OF JOURNALSIM I COULD
THINK OF THAT DIDN'T INVOLVE
BELIEVING IN ANYTHING AT ALL."
WHEN SHE WRITES ON TRAVEL THERE
IS NO HIERARCHY.
NO SYSTEM OF VALUE.
NO HIERARCHY OF MEANING.
ONE PHENOMENON, ONE SENSATION,
HAS NO MORE IMPORTANCE THAN ANY
OTHER.
THIS CAME HOME TO ME MOST
DRAMATICALLY IN A CONVERSATION
SHE HAS WITH, WITH JIMMY.
THEY ARE THOUSANDS OF MILES
APART.
SHE'S ON A PLANE ON THE PHONE
TO HIM, AND SHE SAYS TO HIM,
QUOTE, "THE PLANE WAS DIVERTED.
I FORGOT TO PASS MY, PACK MY
SUNGLASSES.
DID YOU HAVE THE DUCK WITH RED
CURRANTS?
THE MAYS CROPPERS FAILED.
THEY'RE TRYING TO GET A WORLD
BANK LOAN.
I HAVE A TOOTHACHE."
NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN
ANYTHING ELSE.
SHE IS LOOKING AT A WORLD AND
OBSERVING IT, AND THERE IS NO
ELEMENT FROM JUDGEMENT.
NO ELEMENT OF HIERARCHY.
AND ALL THE TIME THERE IS THIS
TERRIBLE CASUAL SEX.
AND SOMETIMES NOTE, DURING
THOSE MOMENTS OF CASUAL SEX,
KATHLEEN IS STRUCK BY THE
THOUGHT, PAGE 372, QUOTE.
"BUT THIS IS RIDICULOUS."
WHEN THE MAN IS ON TOP OF HER.
"BUT THIS IS RIDICULOUS.
YOU DO THIS TO HAVE BABIES."
AND AS SHE CONSIDERS THE
SOFTNESS OF HER STOMACH, SHE
IMAGINES THAT, QUOTE,
"SOMEWHERE BURIED DEEP BEHIND
THAT FLESH THERE IS A
SHRIVELLED ORGAN, TEAR-SHAPED.
WOMBS ARE TEAR-SHAPED."
BECAUSE HER IMAGES OF HERSELF,
OF CHILDBEARING, OF WOMAN, ALL
DERIVE FROM HER MOTHER, AND THE
HORROR OF HER CHILDHOOD.
I WAS STRUCK AS I READ OF HER
QUARTER OF A CENTURY IN THE
HOUSTON ROAD BASEMENT.
HOW KATHLEEN TRAVELLING
EXTENSIVE, EXTENSIVELY FOR SO
MUCH OF HER TIME, AND
SUBMITTING FOR SO OFTEN TO THE
ADVANCES OF STRANGERS, WAS VERY
MUCH IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF
THE WORLD.
AND THEN I THOUGHT ABOUT MY OWN
THOUGHT, HOW ODD.
IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF THE
WORLD, IS HOW TRADITIONALLY WE
SPEAK OF NUNS.
AND I THOUGHT THAT IRONIC.
AND THEN JUST AS SHE IS ABOUT
TO TURN 50, KATHLEEN DE BURCA
LIVES THROUGH THREE EXPERIENCES
THAT WILL BEGIN THE PROCESS OF
HER RETURN TO LIFE.
THE FIRST EXPERIENCE TAKES
PLACE IN HARRARI AT THE
AIRPORT, THE CAPITOL OF
ZIMBABWE.
THERE'S A BUSINESSMAN.
THEY SPEAK ON THE PLANE.
THEY GO TO BED AFTER THEY LAND.
THIS IS HARDLY AN EPIPHANY.
THERE'VE BEEN SO MANY
BUSINESSMEN AND SO MANY
AIRPORTS.
BUT ONLY ONE HOUR AFTER THEIR
ENCOUNTER, THE BUSINESSMAN
PHONES HER ROOM TO SAY THAT HE
HAS TO LEAVE.
PAGE ELEVEN.
"ONE HOUR AFTER I'D BEEN WITH
HIM, HE HADN'T EVEN WAITED
UNTIL THE NEXT DAY.
AND THAT'S WHAT I LEARNED FROM
HIM.
THAT MY HEART WAS STILL
RIDICULOUSLY ALIVE."
THAT'S THE FIRST EXPERIENCE.
THE SECOND, A FEW DAYS LATER,
KATHLEEN ARRIVES ON ASSIGNMENT
IN THE PHILIPPINES.
SHE GOES TO MANILLA, AND JUST
OUTSIDE HER HOTEL SHE IS
CROSSING THE HIGHWAY, AND
THERE'S A HEDGE DIVIDING THE
HIGHWAY.
AND SHE SEES UNDER THE DUSTY
HEDGE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
ROAD, SOMETHING THAT STOPS HER
SHORT.
FROM PAGE ELEVEN.
"TWO DIRTY FACED GIRLS OF SEVEN
OR EIGHT, HAD A BOX UNDER THE
HEDGE WITH AN INFANT SLEEPING
IN IT.
AND THE SEVEN YEAR OLD SAYS,
DOLLA?
AND LIFTS UP HER SKIRT.
I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT SHE MEANT
AND MAYBE SHE DIDN'T EITHER.
WHAT MONEY I HAD IN MY POCKETS
I GAVE HER.
AND THEN INSTEAD OF CHECKING
INTO THE HOTEL, I GOT A TAXI TO
THE AIRPORT, LOOKING NEITHER TO
THE RIGHT NOR THE LEFT.
AND MUCH, MUCH LATER IN THE
NOVEL, PAGE 499, QUOTE, "SHE
REALIZES THAT THE TWO KIDS AND
THE BABY UNDER THE DUSTY HEDGE
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY,
REMINDED ME OF SOME DEEP LEVEL
OF MYSELF AND MY TWO BROTHERS."
FOR 25 YEARS, KATHLEEN DE BURCA
HAS BEEN OBSERVING HUMANITY BUT
HAS KEPT IT AT ARM'S LENGTH.
BUT AT THAT MOMENT IN MANILLA,
SHE BEGINS TO RECONNECT WITH
THE HUMAN CONDITION.
THE PROCESS WILL TAKE TIME, BUT
IT HAS BEGUN.
AND THEN THE THIRD EXPERIENCE.
SHE COMES HOME FROM MANILLA TO
LONDON, TO FIND THAT HER
FRIEND, HER CONFIDANTE, JIMMY
HAS DIED OF A HEART ATTACK.
HE FIRST REACTION IS TO
WITHDRAW INTO THE WOMB.
HER LITTLE BASEMENT FLAT OFF
THE HOUSTON ROAD.
AND IN THAT FLAT, TO PASS THE
TIME, TO FILL THE HOURS UNTIL
HIS FUNERAL, SHE BEGINS TO READ
EVERYTHING ON HER SHELVES.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS SHE READS
IS SOMETHING THAT HER, HUGO,
HER LOVER HAD GIVEN HER 25
YEARS EARLIER.
HE THOUGHT IT MIGHT INTEREST
HER.
IT WAS AN OLD DIVORCE CASE.
THE TALBOT CASE.
A JUDGEMENT OF THE HOUSE OF
LORDS IN 1856.
AT THAT TIME, THE HOUSE OF
LORDS WAS THE ONLY BRITISH
INSTITUTION THAT COULD GRANT A
DIVORCE.
SHE'S HAD IT ON HER BOOKSHELVES
FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS.
IT IS BY THE WAY, A TRUE CASE.
I KNOW THAT THE TALBOT CASE,
HOUSE OF LORD PROCEEDINGS ARE
IN THE FAMINE LIBRARY IN COUNTY
RUSK COMMON IN IRELAND.
KATHLEEN DE BURCA IS DRAWN TO
THE CASE, AS SHE WORKS AWAY
THROUGH HER BOOKCASE.
SHE IS DRAWN TO THE CASE
BECAUSE IT TAKES PLACE, IT TOOK
PLACE DURING A TERRIBLE, BUT
FASCINATING PERIOD OF IRISH
HISTORY IN THE 1840S, OR IT
REFERS TO THE 1840S.
BUT MORE BECAUSE THE WIFE IN
THE DIVORCE CASE, MARIANNE
TALBOT, SEEMED ON THE FACE OF
IT TO HAVE CONCEIVED A PASSION
FOR HER SERVANT, WHICH LED TO
LOVE.
WHICH IN TURN LED TO A
WILLINGNESS TO SACRIFICE
EVERYTHING.
THIS IS WHAT SHE HAS BEEN
LIVING FOR 25 YEARS.
SEX, WHICH MIGHT LEAD TO LOVE,
WHICH MIGHT LEAD TO TOTAL LOVE,
WHICH IS A WILLINGNESS TO
SACRIFICE.
SHE WANTS TO KNOW MORE ABOUT
THE CASE THAN THE BARE BONES.
SHE DECIDES TO QUIT HER JOB AND
GO TO IRELAND AND RESEARCH THE
TALBOT CASE.
SHE IS GOING TO TAKE UP THE
STORY OF MARIANNE TALBOT'S
ADULTERY, AND WRITE IT UP,
PERHAPS.
SHE WANTS TO UNDERSTAND HOW SEX
AND THEN LOVE COULD REACH
ACROSS SUCH A CHASM.
THE CHASM BETWEEN MARIANNE
TALBOT, AND HER IRISH CATHOLIC
SERVANT, WILLIAM MULLAN, WAS
MUCH GREATER THAN ANYTHING MOST
OF US CAN IMAGINE.
IT IS MUCH GREATER THAN THE
CHASM THAT EXISTED FOR EXAMPLE
BETWEEN LADY CHATTERLY AND HER
GAME KEEPER.
THE RELATIONSHIP THAT TOOK
PLACE AT THE END OF THE 1840S,
REPORTED IN THE 1856 HOUSE OF
LORDS DECISION.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE
PROTESTANT ENGLISH MARIANNE
TAMBLET, TALBOT, AND THE GAELIC
SPEAKING IRISH CATHOLIC
SERVANT, WILLIAM MULLAN, WAS
LIKE A UNION BETWEEN TWO
SPECIES.
AS THE NOVEL SAYS, PAGE 66.
"EACH OF THEM CAME FROM A
POWERFUL CULTURE, WHICH HAD AT
ITS VERY CORE THE DEFINING OF
THE OTHER CULTURE AS ALIEN."
TO UNDERSTAND HOW FAR APART
WERE THESE TWO SOLITUDES FROM
WHICH MARIANNE TALBOT AND
WILLIAM MULLAN CAME, WE HAVE TO
PAUSE FOR A MOMENT TO CONSIDER
VERY BRIEFLY IRISH HISTORY.
AS YOU KNOW, ENGLAND CONQUERED
IRELAND IN THE YEAR 1171.
AND FOR NEARLY 800 YEARS THE
IRISH HATED THEIR ENGLISH
CONQUERER, THEIR ENGLISH
OPPRESSOR.
THAT HATRED WAS EXACERBATED
WHEN ENGLAND WENT THROUGH A
REFORMATION AND HENRY THE
EIGHTH.
ENGLAND BECAME PROTESTANT.
BUT IRELAND REMAINED STAUNCHLY
LOYAL TO ROME, TO CATHOLICISM.
AND THAT HATRED WAS EXACERBATED
EVEN MORE WHEN SUCCESSIVE
ENGLISH RULERS, NOTABLY OLIVER
CROMWELL, BETWEEN 1649 AND
1658, GAVE LARGE LAND GRANTS IN
IRELAND, PARTICULARLY IN THE
NORTH TO SCOTTISH AND ENGLISH
PROTESTANTS, HOPING TO DILUTE
CATHOLICISM IN IRELAND.
THE ONLY RESULT WAS OF COURSE
TO CREATE TWO COMMUNITIES.
ENGLISH SPEAKING PROTESTANT,
AND GAELIC SPEAKING CATHOLIC IN
IRELAND WHO HATED EACH OTHER.
ON ONE SIDE YOU HAVE THE
PROTESTANT LAND OWNERS, WHO
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT HAD THEIR
REAL HOMES BACK IN ENGLAND.
THEY HAD THEIR OWN ANGLICAN
CHURCH.
THEY CALLED IT QUOTE, "THE
CHURCH OF IRELAND."
AND OF COURSE THEY SPOKE
ENGLISH.
ON THE OTHER HAND THE GREAT
MAJORITY WERE THE IRISH
PEASANTRY, ROMAN CATHOLIC,
GAELIC SPEAKING, OFTEN WITH
ONLY JUST ENOUGH ENGLISH TO
ACCEPT THE INSTRUCTIONS OF
THEIR EMPLOYERS.
AND THAT WAS THE SITUATION THAT
OBTAINED IN IRELAND IN THE 19TH
CENTURY.
THAT WAS THE SITUATION THAT
OBTAINED IN IRELAND IN THE
SUMMER OF 1846, WHEN THE FIRST
IRISH LABOURER WENT INTO THE
CELLAR OF HIS PEAT MOSS HOUSE
AND FOUND THAT THE POTATOES HAD
TURNED BLACK.
THE POTATOES HE HAD STORED FOR
THE WINTER, AND THERE WAS NO
FOOD.
THE POTATO BLIGHT HAD STRUCK.
AND IN 1846, BEGAN THE THREE
YEARS OF INCREDIBLE FAMINE.
THE POTATO WAS THE ONLY STAPLE
FOOD IN IRELAND.
AND THE SUFFERING BECAME BEYOND
BELIEF.
THE PEAK OF THE FAMINE WAS THE
SECOND YEAR, 1847.
THE YEAR THE IRISH CALL AND
MOST HISTORY BOOKS CALL, THE
YEAR OF THE GREAT HUNGER.
ALL THIS WAS KNOWN TO 49 YEAR
OLD, KATHLEEN DE BURCA.
SHE REMEBERS AT 16, BACK IN
IRELAND, SHE REMEMBERS BEING IN
A PAGEANT ORGANIZED BY THE
NUNS.
I QUOTE, PAGE 49.
"I WAS ONE OF THE BAREFOOT,
STARVING GIRLS IN SHAWLS ON THE
BACK OF MURPHY'S COAL LORRY
THAT HAD BEEN LINED WITH CREPE
PAPER, HAD, HAD A BIG SIGN ON
IT.
1847, THE YEAR OF THE GREAT
HUNGER.
BUT THE HISTORY IS FAR FROM HER
AND SHE HAS NO SENSE OF SHARING
THE HUMANITY OF THOSE WHO
SUFFERED.
SHE CANNOT SEE YET IN HER
MIND'S EYE THE FACES OF THE
DYING.
SO, SHE RESEARCHES THE
LIBRARIES IN LONDON.
THERE IS NOTHING IN THE LONDON
LIBRARIES ON THE TALBOT CASE.
OTHER THAN THE HOUSE OF LORDS
REPORT OF 1856, OF WHICH SHE
ALREADY HAS A COPY.
TO IRELAND SHE MUST GO TO FIND
THE ANSWERS.
BUT FIRST, SHE HAS TO SETTLE UP
THINGS IN LONDON.
SHE HAS TO GIVE UP THE LEASE ON
HER BASEMENT FLAT.
OLD HABITS DIE HARD.
SHE HAS HAD THREE EXPERIENCES
THAT WILL CHANGE HER.
THE BUSINESSMAN WHO DIDN'T COME
BACK FOR SECONDS IN HARRARI.
THE TWO LITTLE GIRLS IN
MANILLA.
THE DEATH OF HER FRIEND, JIMMY.
SOMETHING HAS BEGUN IN HER
MIND, BUT SHE IS STILL WHAT SHE
WAS.
AND WHEN THE LANDLORD OF HER
APARTMENT SAYS, LOOK, FOR WEAR
AND TEAR OVER 20 ODD YEARS
THERE'S A SMALL CHARGE.
BUT IF YOU'RE NICE TO ME,
THERE'LL BE NO CHARGE.
IN RETURN FOR A FEW MINUTES OF
SEX, KATHLEEN LIES DOWN FOR
HIM.
AS SHE SAYS, PAGE 40.
"LYING DOWN FOR HIM IN SILENCE,
WAS THE ONLY WAY TO TELL HIM
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT
MYSELF."
SHE GOES TO IRELAND.
SHE TAKES WITH HER THE 1856
PROCEEDINGS FROM THE HOUSE OF
LORDS.
THOSE 185, 1856 PROCEEDINGS
WILL CONTAIN THE MINUTES OF AN
EARLIER HEARING IN DUBLIN, A
SEPARATION HEARING AT THE
ECCLESIASTICAL COURT.
AND WHAT ARE THE BASIC FACTS,
THE BARE BONES OF THE TALBOT
DECISION OF 1856?
LET ME REFRESH YOUR MEMORY.
ACCORDING TO THE, THE TRUE,
HOUSE OF LORDS REPORT, A YOUNG
ENGLISH WOMAN, MARIANNE
MCCAUSLAND, HAD MARRIED AN
ENGLISH MAN, RICHARD TALBOT IN
1845.
SHE HAD BORNE HIM A DAUGHTER A
YEAR LATER.
IN 1848, THE THIRD YEAR OF THE
IRISH FAMINE, RICHARD TALBOT
INHERITED AN ESTATE FROM AN
UNCLE IN THE WEST OF IRELAND.
AND THEY GO TO TAKE POSSESSION
OF MOUNT TALBOT.
AT ABOUT THE SAME TIME, A LOCAL
IRISH MAN, WILLIAM MULLAN,
FINDS EMPLOYMENT AT THE TALBOT
ESTATE AS A STABLE HAND.
ACCORDING TO THE TESTIMONY OF
THE SERVANTS, A STEAMY AFFAIR
BEGAN BETWEEN MARIANNE TALBOT,
THE LADY, AND WILLIAM MULLAN.
ONE SERVANT, MARIA ROONEY, EVEN
SAYS, THAT SHE SAW THEM IN BED
TOGETHER.
SHE DOESN'T USE THE PHRASE, BUT
SHE THEM INFLAGRANTE DELICTO.

[Claps]

Robert says WHAT WE USED
TO CALL IN SOUTH WALES, A RUMPY TUM.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues AFTER FOUR
YEARS OF MARRIAGE IN 1852,
RICHARD TALBOT SEIZES HIS
DAUGHTER AND EXPELS HIS WIFE,
WHO IS TAKEN BY A LOCAL
CLERGYMAN TO DUBLIN.
AND WILLIAM MULLAN FOLLOWS HER
THERE, TRIES TO MAKE CONTACT
WITH HER.
AND THEN SHE IS MOVED AGAIN TO
A SUBURBAN, A DUBLIN, SUBURBAN,
LODGING, HOUSE IN THE CARE OF A
NURSE.
AFTER THE SEPARATION HEARING IN
DUBLIN, SOME THREE WEEKS LATER,
SHE IS TAKEN TO ENGLAND TO AN
ASYLUM NEAR WINDSOR, NEAR
LONDON.
IN THE DIVORCE CASE IN 1856 IN
THE HOUSE OF LORDS, SHE IS
DEFENDED BY A DISTANT,
RELATIVE.
A, A SORT OF COUSIN, RICHARD
PAGET, Q.C.
BUT RICHARD TALBOT WINS HIS
DIVORCE IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS
ON THE GROUNDS OF HIS WIFE'S
ADULTERY.
HE EVEN WINS DAMAGES AGAINST
THE IRISH STABLE HAND, WILLIAM
MULLAN.
BUT OF COURSE, MULLAN HAS NO
MONEY, AND ANYWAY, HE HAS FLED
TO AMERICA.
A MAJOR PIECE OF EVIDENCE
AGAINST MARIANNE TALBOT WAS THE
ALLEGED CONFESSION SHE HAD MADE
TO A NURSE IN DUBLIN.
THIS, WHEN KATHLEEN DE BURCA
ARRIVES IN IRELAND, ARE THE
FACTS SHE BELIEVES OF THE
TALBOT CASE.
SO, SHE MAKES HER WAY TO THE
VILLAGE OF BALLYGALL, AND THE
NEIGHBOURING ESTATE IN RUINS OF
MOUNT TALBOT.
AND ONCE SHE ARRIVES IN IRELAND
THERE WILL BE THREE LOVE
AFFAIRS.
ONE, SHE WILL WITNESS.
ONE, SHE WILL LIVE, AND ONE SHE
WILL IMAGINE.
THE FIRST LOVE AFFAIR, THE ONE
SHE WILL WITNESS.
WHEN SHE FLED FROM IRELAND AT
THE AGE OF 20, SHE LEFT BEHIND
A YOUNGER BROTHER DANNY, TO
COPE WITH HER FATHER.
AND NOW, DANNY, WHOM SHE'S NOT
SEEN IN A QUARTER OF A CENTURY,
IS MARRIED.
HE'S A FATHER.
AHEM.
AND THEY LIVE ON THE OLD, BURKE
FAMILY FARM.
THEY LIVE IN GREAT POVERTY,
BECAUSE DANNY IS WEAK AND HE IS
A DRUNKARD.
THEY SUBSIST ON WHAT ANNIE CAN
EARN AS A SHOP ASSISTANT.
DANNY HAS FAILED AT EVERYTHING
HE HAS TRIED ECONOMICALLY.
KATHLEEN IS TOUCHED BY THE
GREETING SHE RECEIVES, FROM HER
BROTHER AND HIS WIFE.
MORE THAN A GREETING, PAGE 213.
"NOT JUST A GREETING, BUT A
WELCOME HOME AFTER HALF A
LIFETIME."
AND SHE GIVES HER BROTHER A
THOUSAND POUNDS BECAUSE HE
TALKS IN HIS GRANDIOSE,
ALCOHOLIC WAY OF SELECTIVE
BREEDING.
BUT ON A LATER VISIT SHE IS
TOLD BY HER SISTER-IN-LAW, THAT
DANNY IS DRINKING THE MONEY.
AND YET, ANNIE, HIS WIFE, SAYS OF HER DRUNKEN, WEAK, HUSBAND,
THE FAILURE, "HE'S THE BEST MAN
ON EARTH WHEN HE'S WELL.
WE LOVE HIM SO, WE DO.
EVERYONE LOVES HIM.
YOU KNOW YOURSELF KATHLEEN,
THERE'S NO ONE AS NICE AS HIM.
I MEANT IT WHEN I SAID TO YOU
THAT I HAVE HAD A HAPPY LIFE,
THANK GOD.
I WOULDN'T HAVE IT DIFFERENT.
I WOULDN'T CHANGE DANNY FOR ANY
MAN ON EARTH."
THERE'S NO REFERENCE TO SEX.
NO REFERENCE TO HIS WEAKNESSES.
THIS IS PURE, UNCONDITIONAL,
COMPLETE LOVE.
"I WOULDN'T CHANGE DANNY FOR
ANY MAN ON EARTH."
I AM CERTAIN THAT IS ANNIE'S
LOVE FOR HER BROTHER, AS MUCH
AS ANY OTHER EVENT IN THE
NOVEL, THAT BEGINS TO MOVE
KATHLEEN BACK INTO LIFE.
IN IRELAND, THAT'S PERHAPS THE
MOST DRAMATIC, BUT IT'S NOT THE
ONLY EVIDENCE OF THAT KIND OF
DEEP AND ABIDING AND PERMANENT
LOVE THAT SHE HAS SEEN.
SHE SAW IT WHEN SHE ARRIVED IN
IRELAND AT BALLYGALL, AND SHE
GOES TO THE TALBOT ARMS AND SHE
MEETS THE DELIGHTFUL, BERTIE.
YOU REMEMBER BERTIE?
BERTIE.
I ADORED HIS WELCOME TO HER
WHEN SHE ARRIVES AT HIS, HIS
INN.
"AH, SURE WE COULD LOOK AFTER
YOU UNTIL FRIDAY ANYWAY, IF YOU
DON'T MIND COMING DOWN TO THE
KITCHEN FOR YOUR MEALS.
AND WE'VE A LITTLE COTTAGE OUT
ON THE COAST, IF YOU'RE STUCK
WHEN WE HAVE TO THROW YOU OUT.
AH, BUT NOBODY CALLS IT THE
TALBOT ARMS.
IT'S BERTIE'S PLACE.
WE BOUGHT IT WITH THE MONEY I
WON ON A HORSE.
ACTUALLY, IT WAS MY LATE WIFE,
GOD PRESERVE HER, WHO PICKED
THE HORSE.
I'M BERTIE."
I DEFY YOU AS YOU READ IT NOT
TO SMILE.
LATER, BERTIE AS THEY BECOME
CLOSER WILL COUNSEL KATHLEEN
ABOUT MEN.
MEN IN GENERAL, AND HE SAYS,
QUOTE, PAGE 514.
"AH, THEY'RE NOT WORTH IT, MY
DEAR, GIRL.
HOLDING ME IN HIS BIG, WOOLEN
ARMS AND PATTING MY BACK.
I'M ONE OF THEM, SO I KNOW."
[Laughs]

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues AND IN THE
KITCHEN OF BERTIE'S PUB,
KATHLEEN SEES BERTIE AND HIS
DAUGHTER AND HER CHILDREN, AND
BABY, OLLIE, IS LEARNING TO
WALK.
AND IN THIS ATMOS, IN THIS
ATMOSPHERE OF LOVE, KATHLEEN IS
MOVED TO THINK, PAGE 404.
"I FELT AS IF I HAD CROSSED A,
CROSSED A THRESHOLD.
TO BE ABSORBED BY WATCHING A
CHILD LEARNING TO WALK?
ME"?
SHE IS CHANGING BEFORE OUR
EYES.
I SAID THAT KATHLEEN WILL
WITNESS ONE REAL LOVE AFFAIR.
I MEANT HER BROTHER AND HIS
WIFE.
BUT SHE WITNESSES IN FACT, TWO.
HER BROTHER DANNY AND HIS WIFE,
ANNIE.
AND SHE WITNESSES A SECOND,
BERTIE'S LOVE AFFAIR WITH LIFE.
WHAT OF THE LOVE AFFAIR SHE
LIVES THROUGH?
THE SECOND.
SHE TAKES A LOCAL FERRY AND SHE
MEETS A MAN, I QUOTE, PAGE 142.
"CLOSE CROPPED, GREY HAIR, A
LINED FACE, A STALKY BODY, NON-
DESCRIPT.
HE LOOKED LIKE ALL THE MIDDLE-
AGED MEN YOU HARDLY NOTICE."
HIS NAME IS SHEA.
HE'S A MARRIED MAN WITH GROWN
UP DAUGHTERS.
HE'S BORN IN IRELAND, BUT HE
LIVES OVER IN ENGLAND, NEAR
LIVERPOOL.
HE COMES, COMES BACK TO
IRELAND, COMES OVER TO IRELAND
ACROSS THE IRISH SEA, FAIRLY
FREQUENTLY TO HELP OUT HIS
FATHER WHO HAS A LITTLE OIL
DELIVERY BUSINESS.
HE AND KATHLEEN, ON THE FERRY,
CHAT AND WHEN THE FERRY DOCKS,
THEY GO INTO THE LOCAL PUB FOR
A DRINK.
AND FROM THE PUB, THEY GO INTO
THE ALLEY BEHIND THE PUB AND ON
PAGE 149, THERE IS AN
EXCEPTIONALLY FINE PASSAGE.
"HE PULLED ME AGAINST HIM.
THEN HE SHOVED TWO OR THREE
FINGERS INTO MY MOUTH, AND I
FELT THEM ON MY TONGUE.
I GASPED.
HEAT WHOOSHED UP THROUGH MY
BODY.
I COULD FEEL THAT HE WAS
SWOLLEN, AND I WAS GLAD TO MAKE
MY BELLY TAUT FOR HIM TO PUSH
AGAINST."
IF I WAS STILL TEACHING, I
WOULD USE THAT PASSAGE AS AN
EXAMPLE OF EXEMPLARY WRITING.
NO WORD HAS MORE THAN TWO
SYLLABLES, AND THE SHORT,
POWERFUL, ANGLO-SAXON WORDS,
ARE A PERFECT MATCH FOR THE
STRENGTH OF THE SEXUAL FEELING.
AND THE PASSAGE IS TYPICAL OF
NUALA O'FAOLAIN'S PROSE.
SHE NEVER STRAINS FOR EFFECT BY
FOOLISH SIMILES OR SOUGHT OUT
METAPHORS.
IT IS CLEAN, CLEAN PROSE.
IT SEEMS EFFORTLESS.
BUT IT TAKES A LIFETIME TO
ACHIEVE, THAT KIND OF WRITING.
ANYWAY BACK TO SHEA AND
KATHLEEN IN THE ALLEY BEHIND
THE PUB.
THEY ADJOURN TO THE COTTAGE.
BERTIE'S COTTAGE THAT HE HAS
LEANT HER, AND THE SEX IS
MAGICAL.
A LOVELY, TOUCH.
THERE IS A FALSE START.
SHEA SAYS I THINK IT'S A BLOOD
PRESSURE PROBLEM.

[Audience laughing]

Robert says IT'S SO CLOSE TO LIFE.

[Audience laughing]

Robert says BUT IN THE
MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, THEY WAKE.
AND SHEA, HAPPILY MARRIED AND
WITH GROWN DAUGHTERS, TELL
KATHLEEN, "I HAD FORGOTTEN.
I HAD FORGOTTEN."
BUT IN THE MORNING HE GOES OUT
TO BUY ORANGE JUICE FOR
BREAKFAST, AND HE DOESN'T COME
BACK.
HMM.
LIKE THE BUSINESSMAN IN
HARRARI.
LIKE SO MANY MEN BEFORE.
AND THEN THERE IS THE NOTE HE
LEAVES BEHIND, BADLY
PUNCTUATED, BADLY SPELLED,
QUOTE.
"IF I DID NOT GO THEN I COULD
NEVER GO AT ALL.
I COULD NEVER LEAVE YOU IF I
STAYED.
YOU ARE EVERYTHING A MAN COULD
DESIRE.
YOU'RE A QUEEN IN ANYBODY'S
WORLD.
YOU WILL ALWAYS BE IN MY
MEMORY.
SHEA."
AND IT STRUCK ME WITH THAT
LETTER, THE RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN
KATHLEEN AND SHEA, AND 150
YEARS EARLIER, MARIANNE TALBOT
AND WILLIAM MULLAN, BOTH OF
THEM HAVE GIVEN THEMSELVES TO
MEN WHO ARE FAR, FAR THEIR
SOCIAL INFERIOR, THEIR
EDUCATIONAL INFERIOR.
AND THEN IT STRUCK ME.
THERE ARE OTHER SIMILARITIES.
WHEN KATHLEEN AND SHEA ARE
TOGETHER IN THE PUB COMING OFF
THE FERRY, I QUOTE FROM PAGE
145.
"SHEA'S THIGH LAY ALONGSIDE
MINE.
WHERE THEY LIGHTLY TOUCHED, THE
THINNEST OF SHUDDERS BEGAN."
AND I THOUGHT BACK TO SOMETHING
EARLIER IN THE NOVEL, OF
MARIANNE'S ALLEGED CONFESSION
TO THE DUBLIN NURSE IN 1853.
TO THE DETAIL OF WHAT THAT
DUBLIN NURSE TESTIFIED, FROM
PAGE 110.
"MRS. TALBOT TOLD ME HOW IT
COMMENCED, AND THE WAY IT
COMMENCED WAS THIS.
SHE WENT INTO MULLAN'S ROOM AND
A PART OF HIS BODY CAME IN
CONTACT WITH HERS.
WHICH CAUSED A THRILL TO RUN
THROUGH HER WHOLE FRAME, AND
THAT WAS THE COMMENCEMENT OF
HER DOWNFALL."
WHEN SHEA RETURNS TO KATHLEEN
IN SPITE OF HIS NOTE, NOT JUST
FOR SECONDS, BUT FOR HOUR AFTER
STOLEN HOUR OF LOVEMAKING, IT
CONFIRMED EVEN MORE TO ME THAT
KATHLEEN'S MODERN LOVE AFFAIR
IS A MIRROR IMAGE OF THE 19TH
CENTURY TALBOT AFFAIR, OR
PERHAPS, VICE VERSA.
I REALIZED SOMETHING ELSE.
WHEN KATHLEEN AND SHEA MAKE
LOVE THAT FIRST NIGHT, WHEN
THEY WAKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
NIGHT, AFTER A FALSE, EARLY
START.
THEY COME TOGETHER PHYSICALLY
MOST PERFECTLY WHEN SHEA UTTERS
THE MAGIC WORDS, PAGE 157.
"YOU'RE MY LITTLE GIRL, AREN'T
YOU?
AREN'T YOU MY LITTLE GIRL?
WITHOUT THE SLIGHTEST WARNING I
WENT OPEN AND WET OF STONE, AND
HE ROLLED ME ON TOP OF HIM."
THOSE ARE ALMOST EXACTLY THE
SAME WORDS THAT THE AUTHOR,
NUALA O'FAOLAIN'S TRUCK DRIVER
USES IN REAL LIFE IN HER
AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
AND THEN I REALIZED THAT THIS
IS A NOVEL BEING WRITTEN AT
THREE LEVELS.
THE FIRST IS THE LEVEL OF NUALA
O'FAOLAIN AND THE LEVEL OF HER
TRUCK DRIVER.
THE SECOND, WITHIN THE NOVEL,
IS KATHLEEN DE BURCA AND SHEA.
AND THE THIRD LEVEL WITHIN THE
NOVEL, IS MARIANNE TALBOT WITH
THE STABLE HAND, WILLIAM
MULLAN.
JUST AS NUALA O'FAOLAIN
PROJECTS HER OWN LIFE AND
SEARCH FOR LOVE INTO HER
LITERARY CREATION, KATHLEEN DE
BURCA SO WITHIN THE NOVEL,
KATHLEEN DE BURCA PROJECTS HER
SEARCH INTO THE 19TH CENTURY,
MARIANNE TALBOT, WILLIAM MULLAN
AFFAIR.
IN THE VILLAGE OF BALLYGALL,
KATHLEEN DE BURCA FINDS LITTLE
NEW EVIDENCE.
BERTIE TAKES HER AROUND THE
RUINS.
THEY MAKE SOME INTERESTING
DISCOVERIES.
BUT THERE'S NO HARD EVIDENCE.
THE EYE WITNESSES ARE OF COURSE
LONG DEAD.
KATHLEEN BEFRIENDS THE LOCAL,
RETIRED, LIBRARIAN, A
DELIGHTFUL CHARACTER LIKE
BERTIE, WHO ADORES HER, NAN
LEACH.
BUT THERE'S NOTHING TO ADD TO
THE 1856 HOUSE OF LORDS
PROCEEDINGS.
THESE KATHLEEN, EXAMINES AND
RE-EXAMINES, AND OUT OF THE
COLD, HARD FACTS OF 1856, SHE
CREATES AN AFFAIR.
SHE IMAGINES HOW IT MUST HAVE
BEEN.
SHE CONJURES UP A LOVE AFFAIR
MUCH LIKE THE ONE SHE IS LIVING
WITH SHEA.
BOTH ARE DOOMED.
SHEA, HER LOVER IN THE MOMENT
IS HONEST WITH HER.
STOLEN MOMENTS ARE ALL HE CAN
OFFER HER.
FROM PAGE 284, KATHLEEN
SPEAKING.
"SO I WAIT AROUND, DO I?
I SAID.
I WAS CRYING BITTERLY.
IS THAT ALL I CAN DO?
THAT'S ALL, HE SAID.
THAT'S ALL."
AHH.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues KATHLEEN
CREATES, EVERYTHING IN HER
AFFAIR WITH SHEA SHE PROTECTS,
PROJECTS BACK 150 YEARS.
WHEN SHEA SAYS, ALL YOU CAN DO
IS WAIT.
SHE CREATES A SIMILAR MOMENT,
IN THE 1840S, 1850S, FOR
MARIANNE TALBOT, WILLIAM
MULLAN.
MULLAN SUGGESTS TO HIS
EMPLOYER, FLEEING TOGETHER,
THAT THEY FLEE TOGETHER TO
AMERICA.
MARIANNE HOWEVER, WILL ACCEPT
LIVING FOR THE STOLEN MOMENTS.
SHE WILL NOT GIVE UP HER SOCIAL
POSITION.
SHE WILL ENDURE THE LONG, DULL,
DAYS WITH HER HUSBAND, FOR THE
MAGIC MOMENTS WITH THE STABLE
HAND.
SHE CANNOT CROSS THE CHASM
BETWEEN THEM PERMANENTLY.
THERE ARE OF COURSE DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN THE 19TH CENTURY AFFAIR
AND THE MODERN AFFAIR.
AND LIKE MARIANNE AND MULLAN,
KATHLEEN AND SHEA ARE MIDDLE-
AGED.
WHEN THEY SWIM TOGETHER IN THE
LAKE OUTSIDE KATHLEEN'S
COTTAGE, SHE SAYS, PAGE 409,
"BETWEEN US THERE WAS A LOT OF
PALLID FLESH."

[Audience laughing]

Robert says AND I LIKED
THAT.
AT ONE TIME IN BED, KATHLEEN
SEES SHEA'S FALSE TEETH ON THE
NIGHT TABLE.
IT'S A LOVELY TOUCH, BECAUSE
SHE REALIZES THAT HE HAS TAKEN
OUT HIS TEETH, SO THAT HE CAN
SUCK HER BREAST MORE
EFFECTIVELY.
GIVE HER MORE PLEASURE.

[Audience murmurs, laughs]

Robert says AND CONSIDER
HOW SHE TRANSFORMS THAT INTO AN
EROTIC MOMENT, IN THE AFFAIR
150 YEARS BEFORE, FROM PAGE
296.
MARIANNE LIFTED HERSELF HALF UP
AND PUSHED THE VELVET OF HER
DRESS DOWN AND FREED HER
BREASTS.
SHE POURED WINE OVER HER
BREASTS.
SHE SAID TASTE THAT TO HIM, AND
STUFFED HER BREAST INTO HIS
MOUTH.
HE SUCKED AT HER FOR SO LONG,
THAT A MUSCLE ROSE IN HER
BREAST BEHIND HER NIPPLE AND
BECAME A HARD SNOUT.
AND KATHLEEN MAKES FLESH IN HER
MIND, THE 19TH CENTURY LOVERS.
AND AS SHE SEES THEIR FACES,
SHE SEES EQUALLY, VIVIDLY THE
BACKGROUND BEHIND THEM.
THE BACKGROUND AGAINST, WHICH
THEIR LOVE PLAYED OUT.
SHE SEES THE CULTURE SHOCK
MARIANNE MUST HAVE EXPERIENCED
WHEN SHE ARRIVED IN IRELAND IN
1848.
I QUOTE, "IRELAND WAS A PLACE
EXHAUSTED BY THREE YEARS OF
FAMINE AND A PLACE GRIPPED WITH
FEAR.
ITS PEOPLE WERE POURING OUT
THROUGH THE PORTS.
NOT TRAVELLERS, BUT IMMIGRANTS,
HORDES OF THEM, HAULING
EVERYTHING THEY POSSESSED INTO
THE BOATS, CALLING OUT TO EACH
OTHER IN IRISH, CRYING AND
LAMENTING, NOT LEAVING, BUT
FLEEING.
AND FLEE OF COURSE IN 1846,
1847, 1848, FLEE THE IRISH DID
IN THERE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS,
EVEN IN THEIR MILLIONS TO THE
NEW WORLD.
IN MONTREAL, WHERE I LIVE,
THERE IS A GREAT, BLACK STONE
DOWN BY THE RIVER, WHERE THEY
TOOK THE DEAD IRISH OFF.
THEY CALLED THEM FIRST THE
FAMINE SHIPS AND THEN THE FEVER
SHIPS, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE GOT
ON WERE SO SICK, THAT THEY
BECAME DEAD.
AND KATHLEEN DE BURCA, FOR THE
FIRST TIME SEES WHAT SHE HAD
ONLY LEARNED AS EMPTY HISTORY.
NORTH AMERICA WAS THE PLACE OF
REFUGE AT THE TIME OF THE GREAT
HUNGER.
AND I THOUGHT BRILLIANTLY,
ORIGINALLY, NUALA O'FAOLAIN
REMINDS US OF THE IRISH DREAM
OF ESCAPE TO AMERICA IN THE
SURPRISING IDIOM OF COMEDY.
A LOCAL HANDYMAN IN THE
PRESENT, SENT OVER TO
KATHLEEN'S COTTAGE TO FIX
SOMETHING BY BERTIE SPEAKS OF
THE 19TH CENTURY EXODUS, PAGE
134.
"AH, THEY ALL WENT TO AMERICA,
THE ONES THAT DIDN'T DIE.
AND IF I WAS A YOUNGER MAN, I'D
BE OFF TO AMERICA MYSELF.
READING PLAYBOY EVERY BAY,
EVERY DAY I'D BE."

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues "READING
PLAYBOY EVERY DAY."
AYE.
IT'S GOOD TO KEEP YOUR
PLEASURES SIMPLE.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues AND AS
KATHLEEN MAKES THE 1840S CLEAR
IN HER MIND'S EYE, GIVES THEM
FLESH, SHE SEES WHAT MARIANNE
NEVER DID, THE ENGLISH
PROTESTANT LAND OWNER.
SHE SEES WHAT NAN LEACH, THE
LIBRARIAN CALLS, THE THOUSANDS
OF NEIGHBOURS MARIANNE MUST
HAVE HAD LIVING IN THE BOG, THE
MARSH, AROUND THE MOUNT TALBOT
ESTATE.
THEY LIVED IN HOLES IN THE
GROUND.
YOU SAW BONES STICKING OUT OF
HEDGES, REMINDS US OF THE
HEDGES IN MANILLA.
KATHLEEN THINKS FIRST IN TERMS
OF OBJECTIVE HISTORY FROM PAGE
87.
"BETWEEN 1.1 AND 1.5 MILLION
PEOPLE, MILLION PEOPLE DIED OF
STARVATION AND FAMINE RELATED
DISEASES.
AND SCENES OF ALMOST
UNIMAGINABLE MASS SUFFERING
WERE WITNESSED.
COWERING WRETCHES ALMOST NAKED
IN THE SAVAGE WEATHER, PROWLING
IN TURNIP FIELDS AND
ENDEAVOURING TO GRAB UP ROOTS.
FAMISHED AND GHASTLY SKELETONS,
SUCH AS NO WORDS CAN DESCRIBE.
LITTLE CHILDREN, THEIR LIMBS
WITHOUT FLESH.
THEIR FACES BLOATED, YET
WRINKLED AND OF A PALE,
GREENISH, HUE."
AND SHE SEES IN HER MIND'S EYE
SPECIFIC IMAGES OF PEOPLE DYING
ON THE ROADS, AS THEY CRAWL TO
THE WORKHOUSES ESTABLISHED BY
THE ENGLISH.
SUBSIDIZED NO DOUBT BY QUEEN
VICTORIA'S FIVE POUND
CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH RELIEF,
JUST AFTER SHE DONATED TEN
POUNDS TO THE BATTERSEA DOGS
HOME.
THE ENGLISH HAD NO PITY.
POTATOES WERE BEING EXPORTED
FROM IRELAND, DURING THE FAMINE
BY THE ENGLISH.
THE ENGLISH PERMITTED THE IRISH
TO STARVE TO DEATH.
MARIANNE SEES IN HER MIND'S
EYE, CHILDREN DEAD, WITH
WICKEDLY DISTENDED STOMACHS,
BECAUSE THEY HAD EATEN ALL THAT
WAS AVAILABLE TO THEM, MUD AND
GRASS.
NUALA O'FAOLAIN IN THE NOVEL
DOES NOT PLAY WITH THE GREAT
HUNGER.
SHE MAY LET HER IMAGINATION OR
THE IMAGINATION OF HER
PROTAGANIST WORK UPON THE
TALBOT AFFAIR.
BUT WHAT SHE WRITES OF THE
GREAT HUNGER OF 1846, 1847, OR
1848, IS ABSOLUTELY
HISTORICALLY ACCURATE,
HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY, ACCURATE.
AND THE MISERY IS AN INCREDIBLE
BACKGROUND TO WHAT KATHLEEN
PERCEIVES MUST HAVE BEEN A MAD,
PASSIONATE, IMPOSSIBLE AFFAIR.
BUT IT IS THROUGH HER
VISUALIZATION OF INDIVIDUAL
SUFFERING AND THROUGH HER
FRIENDSHIP WITH BERTIE AND NAN
LEACH, AND THROUGH HER WITNESS
OF THE LOVE BETWEEN HER BROTHER
AND HER SISTER-IN-LAW THAT
KATHLEEN IS BEGINNING TO
RECONNECT WITH HUMANITY AFTER
HER LONG SELF-IMPOSED EXILE
FROM AUTHENTIC LIVING.
IT AS IF NOW, SEEING THE BONES
OF CHILDREN IN THE HEDGES IN
HER MIND'S EYE FROM 150 YEARS
BACK, SHE BEGINS TO UNDERSTAND
THE CHILDREN IN THE HEDGES IN
MANILLA.
SUDDENLY IN THE NOVEL THERE IS
A NEW DEVELOPMENT.
A CONTACT OF NAN LEACH'S IN
DUBLIN, A STUDENT, COMES UP
WITH NEW MATERIAL.
A PAMPHLET PUT OUT WITH
MARIANNE, PUT OUT BY MARIANNE
TALBOT'S LAWYER, RICHARD PAGET,
AFTER THE 1856 DIVORCE CASE.
AND IT MAKES CLEAR WHAT
KATHLEEN DE BURCA HAD ALREADY
BEGUN TO SUSPECT.
THAT THE SERVANT'S EVIDENCE,
WAS CONTRADICTORY.
THAT IN FACT THERE HAD LIKELY
BEEN NO AFFAIR BETWEEN MARIANNE
TALBOT AND WILLIAM MULLAN.
IT WAS ALL SOMETHING SHE HAD
DREAMED.
SHE SEES THAT THE MORE PROBABLE
EXPLANATION OF THE DIVORCE IS
WHAT JOHN PAGET CALLS, IN THE
PAMPHLET, A QUOTE, "FOUL
CONSPIRACY."
RICHARD TALBOT HAD WANTED TO,
EITHER TO DRIVE HIS WIFE MAD,
OR TO PROVE HER ADULTERY SO
THAT HE COULD MARRY AGAIN MORE
PROFITABLY.
SHE MAY INDEED HAVE BEEN DRIVEN
MAD BY HIS ABUSE.
THAT WOULD ACCOUNT FOR HER
CONFESSION, ALLEGED CONFESSION
TO THE DUBLIN NURSE.
THERE ARE LOOSE ENDS.
THERE ARE STRANGERS NOT
ACCOUNTED FOR.
THE, THE BIZARRE ROLE OF TWO
CLERGYMEN.
BUT WHAT MATTERS AT THE END OF
THE NOVEL IS THAT I QUOTE, FROM
PAGE 512, "KATHLEEN DID NOT
KNOW THE TRUTH OF WHAT HAPPENED
AT MOUNT TALBOT AND WOULD NEVER
KNOW IT."
THAT IS KEY.
BECAUSE NOW KATHLEEN HAS TO
FACE THAT ALL SHE HAS IMAGINED
OF THAT PASSIONATE AFFAIR, IS
NO MORE THAN HER IMAGINATION.
WHEN SHE DESCRIBED MULLAN,
WILLIAM MULLAN AS QUOTE,
"MARVELLING AT MARIANNE'S SKIN.
A SKIN NOT LIKE SILK, ONLY
BECAUSE IT WAS FINER THAN
SILK."
WHEN SHE DESCRIBES QUOTE, "THE
ACHE BETWEEN MARIANNE'S LEGS
JUST FROM BEING IN THE SAME
ROOM AS MULLAN."
WHEN SHE IMAGINED QUOTE,
"MARIANNE LEAVING OFF HER
PANTELETS SO SHE WOULD BE NAKED
FOR HER LOVER UNDER HER
CRINOLINE," IT WAS NO MORE THAN
A PROJECTION OF HER OWN AFFAIR
WITH SHEA.
WHAT KATHLEEN HAS DONE, IS TO
TAKE AN ALLEGED AFFAIR IN 19TH
CENTURY IRELAND AND INVEST IT
WITH THE PASSION SHE HAD ALWAYS
HOPED TO ENCOUNTER IN HER OWN
SEXUAL MEETINGS.
AND WHAT SHE WANTS WITH ALL HER
HEART IS FOR THAT PASSION TO
TURN TO LOVE.
AND THE READER, THIS READER AT
ANY RATE, SWEPT UP BY WHAT
KATHLEEN IMAGINED HAPPENED IN
IRELAND, SWEPT UP BY A PASSION,
WHICH IS WHOLEY THE CREATION OF
KATHLEEN'S DESPERATE YEARNING.
WHAT THE READER WANTS, WHAT
KATHLEEN WANTS IS THAT SHE FIND
NOT ONLY PASSION, BUT LOVE WITH
SHEA.
AND THEN SHEA MAKES HIS OFFER.
HE OFFERS TO SET HER UP,
KATHLEEN DE BURCA, SET HER UP
IN HER OWN PLACE NEAR SHANNON
AIRPORT, AND HE'LL FLY IN ONE
WEEKEND A MONTH, OSTENSIBLY TO
SEE HIS FATHER.
SHOULD KATHLEEN ACCEPT?
WILL BE THE MONTHLY HIGH BE
ENOUGH COMPENSATION FOR THE
MONTH LONG LOW?
IN HER MIND SHE TALKS TO HER,
HER ABSENT FRIEND ALEX BACK IN
LONDON.
THE SECRET LAY PREACHER, LAY
BROTHER, THE SECRET ANGLICAN
MONK, WHO WOULD CERTAINLY NOT
APPROVE OF THE ARRANGEMENT.
SHE TALKS IN HER MIND TO HER
DEAD FRIEND JIMMY, PAGE 424.
"JIMMY, JIMMY, I'M 50.
TWO OF MY BOTTOM TEETH ARE
WOBBLING.
COFFEE GIVES ME HEARTBURN.
I DYE MY HAIR.
EVEN IF A FEW MEN WANT ME WHEN
I'M GOING THROUGH MY 50S, AND
MAYBE EVEN MY 60S, I WON'T WANT
THEM.
I'LL SLEEP WITH ANYONE WHO ASKS
ME, THE SAME AS ALWAYS.
BUT YOU KNOW YOURSELF HOW IT
WAS.
IT WAS ASHES, JIMMY.
IT WAS LONELY AS HELL."
IN REAL LIFE SHE CONFIDES IN
NAN LEACH, THE RETIRED
LIBRARIAN, WHO'S BECOME A GREAT
FRIEND, DYING OF CANCER.
AND NAN LEACH, SHE OF THE
SECURE CHILDHOOD, AND THE
SECURE, PROPER, UNEVENTFUL,
SINGLE LIFE SAYS, PAGE 439, "IF
IT WERE OFFERED TO ME AT YOUR
AGE I WOULD ACCEPT WITHOUT
HESITATION.
I WOULD READ AND WRITE WHILE I
WAITED FOR HIM, AND LET ME TELL
YOU I BELIEVE I WOULD BE VERY,
VERY HAPPY."
FACED WITH ALL THE CONFLICTING
OPINIONS, KATHLEEN THINKS
STRANGELY OF SOMETHING SHE SAW
IN THE MOUNT TALBOT GRAVEYARD.
SHE THINKS OF A BLACKBIRD AND
TWO CHAFFINGERS.
AND SHE THINKS OF ALL THE
BEAUTY SHE SAW FROM THE COTTAGE
THAT BERTIE LEANT HER, PAGE
135.
"AT THE TURN OF SPRING INTO
EARLIEST SUMMER, NEVER BEFORE
HAD SHE SEEN SUCH A WIDE SLOPE
OF SMALL FIELDS.
THERE GRASS PATCHED WITH THE
BROWN OF WEEDS AND RUSHES.
FIELDS OF A MUTED AND GLOWING
GREEN THAT LULLED THE EYE, BUT
THEN WAS SHOCKED BY THE HUGE
VISTA OF THE TURBULENT
TURQUOISE SEA BEYOND.
THERE WAS HARDLY A SIGN OF LIFE
EXCEPT FOR THE SPIRE OF A
CHURCH IN A VILLAGE OVER ON THE
BAY, TO WHICH THE GREEN WAVES
WERE RACING."
AND SHE REALIZES THE BEAUTY OF
LIVING.
THE BEAUTY OF CREATION, ALL
THESE SMALL THINGS.
SHE PHONES HER SISTER NORA IN
NEW YORK, TO SAY, I'M GOING
BACK TO LONDON TO COMFORT ALEX,
WHO HAS JUST LOST HIS MOTHER.
IN SHORT, SHE DECIDES TO
EMBRACE THE WORLD AND HUMANITY
IN ITS QUIET AND TENDER
MOMENTS.
SHE WILL LIVE IN THE LITTLE
DETAILS OF FRIENDSHIP, AND IN
THE FASCINATING AND BEAUTIFUL
WORLD AROUND HER.
SHE WILL GIVE UP THE HIGHS AND
LOWS FOR THE FULLER LIFE OF
CONTENTMENT.
FOR SHEA SHE LEAVES A PHONE
MESSAGE.
A FEW LINES FROM THE 1946
"SEPTEMBER SONG."
"BUT THE DAYS GROW SHORT WHEN
YOU REACH SEPTEMBER.
WHEN THE AUTUMN WEATHER TURNS
THE LEAVES TO FLAME AND I
HAVEN'T GOT TIME FOR THE
WAITING GAME."
KATHLEEN WILL NOT WAIT FOR
SHEA.
SHE WILL LIVE.
AND IN THAT DECISION THERE IS
SO MUCH.
THERE IS A RECONCILIATION WITH
IRELAND, WITH HER CHILDHOOD.
AS SHE FLIES OUT OF DUBLIN BACK
TO ENGLAND, PAGE 526, FOR THE
FIRST TIME IN MORE THAN 25
YEARS SHE MAKES A PRAYER.
AND THAT IS A RECONCILIATION
WITH CATHOLIC IRELAND, WITH HER
CATHOLIC CHILDHOOD.
PAGE 526, "I HUDDLED OVER AT MY
WINDOW ON THE PLANE, PEERING
DOWN AS IF THIS TIME NOT TO
LOSE A SECOND OF MY LEAVING.
EVERY MOMENT OF LIFE HAS BECOME
PRECIOUS.
ON MY WAY TO ENGLAND, LIKE
MARIANNE, NO HOME, LIKE
MARIANNE, NO CHILD, LIKE
MARIANNE, NO LOVER, NO
OCCUPATION.
I WAS SITTING BESIDE A MAN WITH
A VERY NICE SMILE.
I SMILED BACK EASILY.
GOD, I MUST HAVE BEEN MAD IN
THE OLD DAYS."

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues "ALMOST
GRACIOUS MOTHER."
SHE HASN'T DONE THAT FOR NEARLY
30 YEARS.
"ALMOST GRACIOUS MOTHER, LET ME
REMEMBER SHEA AS LONG AS I CAN
AND LET THIS SURGE OF LIFE IN
ME SURVIVE INTO THE TIME
WITHOUT HIM."
AND FOR ME HER FINAL
RECONCILIATION WITH HERSELF,
WITH THE PAST, WITH HER
CHILDHOOD, WITH HER IRISH PAST
COMES IN HER IMAGINATION OF HOW
WILLIAM MULLAN MIGHT HAVE DIED,
BECAUSE THERE WAS A WILLIAM
MULLAN AND HE DID GO TO
AMERICA.
FROM PAGE 527, MULLAN DIES
AFTER THE AFFAIR THAT MIGHT
NEVER HAVE TAKEN PLACE.
PAGE 527, "WILLIAM MULLAN WAS
NOT ALONE WHEN HE DIED IN
AMERICA.
HE DID FALL BACK ONTO THE PATH
THROUGH THE CLEARING VERY EARLY
ONE AUTUMN MORNING.
BUT THE DEER CAME TO FEED WHERE
HE LAY, AS THE MORNING MISTS
DISSOLVED SLOWLY IN THE LOW
SUN.
THEY WERE ALL AROUND HIM AND HE
KNEW IT WHEN LIFE WAS DRAINING
FROM HIM.
WHEN THE MEN FROM THE STABLE
FOUND HIS BODY, IT DID LOOK
LONELY.
BUT HE HAD SEEN HER DOLPHIN
BODY TURNING ABOVE HIM."
IS THAT THE DEER OR MARIANNE
TALBOT?
"THE WHITE TORSO TWISTING AND
TURNING IN A MOST BEAUTIFUL WAY
AT THE VERY END, AND THE DEER
DID NOT MOVE AWAY UNTIL HE WAS
DEAD."
NOW, THAT SCENE IS CREATED,
MULLAN'S DEATH IN DEFIANCE OF
WHAT KATHLEEN'S COMMON SENSE
TOLD HER MUST HAVE BEEN THE
MORE MUNDANE TRUTH, THAT THE
AFFAIR HAD NEVER HAPPENED.
BUT IT IS HER MOST BEAUTIFUL
STORY IN THE REAL TRADITION OF
IRISH ROMANTICISM.
FOR ME IT MARKS HER
RECONCILIATION WITH HER IRISH
PAST AND HER IRISH HERITAGE.
IT CONFIRMS TO ME THAT SHE HAS
MADE PEACE WITH EVERYTHING THAT
MADE HER.
IT'S A BEAUTIFUL END TO THE
NOVEL.
BUT IT'S NOT THE ENDING THAT
NUALA O'FAOLAIN HAD PLANNED.
IN HER SECOND MEMOIR, "ALMOST
THERE," PUBLISHED AFTER THIS
NOVEL SHE SAYS, SHE HAD MEANT
WHEN SHE STARTED TO WRITE THE
NOVEL THAT KATHLEEN WOULD
ACCEPT SHEA'S OFFER.
I QUOTE FROM THE MEMOIR.
"THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT.
BUT AS I WROTE THE SCENES OF
THE PLOT I DISCOVERED THAT
UNDER MY OWN HANDS KATHLEEN WAS
CHANGING."
AND NUALA O'FAOLAIN THE WRITER
WAS CHANGING.
I QUOTE AGAIN FROM HER MEMOIR.
"I WAS DOING FOR MYSELF WHAT I
DID FOR KATHLEEN.
I BEGAN TO MULTIPLY THE SMALL
SOURCES OF WELL-BEING IN MY
DAILY LIFE.
I WAS CHANGING MYSELF IN
SYMBIOSIS WITH MY HEROINE."
AFTER SHE WROTE THE NOVEL, JUST
AS NUALA O'FAOLAIN RECONNECTED,
OR KATHLEEN DE BURCA
RECONNECTED WITH HER BROTHER,
NUALA O'FAOLAIN RECONNECTS WITH
HER SISTERS.
JUST AS KATHLEEN GAVE UP, AS
KATHLEEN DE BURCA GAVE UP SHEA,
NUALA O'FAOLAIN GIVES UP HER
IRISH TRUCK DRIVER.
AS NUALA O'FAOLAIN SAYS AGAIN
IN THE SECOND MEMOIR.
"OF ALL THINGS I WOULD ASK OF
LIFE NOW, THE THING I WANT MOST
IS TO LEARN ORDINARY, DAILY
LOVE."
AT THE END OF THE NOVEL, "MY
DREAM OF YOU," BOTH THE
FICTITIOUS KATHLEEN DE BURCA
AND HER CREATOR, NUALA
O'FAOLAIN HAVE ABANDONED THE
THEORY THAT INFORMED ALL THEIR
CASUAL SEX, THAT SEX MIGHT LEAD
TO PASSION, WHICH MIGHT LEAD TO
LOVE.
NOW BOTH THE PROTAGANIST IN THE
NOVEL AND HER CREATOR OUTSIDE
THE NOVEL, REALIZE THAT LOVE IS
WHAT ANNIE FEELS FOR HER
HUSBAND.
WHAT BERTIE FEELS FOR HIS
DAUGHTER AND HIS GRANDCHILDREN,
AND THE UNDECLARED LOVE HE HAS
ALWAYS FELT FOR NAN LEACH.
IT IS, LOVE IS WHAT SHEA FEELS
FOR HIS WIFE AND HIS DAUGHTERS.
THERE WILL BE NOW NO MORE ONE
NIGHT STANDS, NEITHER FOR
KATHLEEN DE BURCA NOR FOR NUALA
O'FAOLAIN.
I PROMISED AT THE BEGINNING OF
MY TALK THAT I WOULD ADD ONE
NOTE TO THE STORY OF THE
WRITER, NUALA O'FAOLAIN.
SINCE SHE WROTE THE FIRST
VOLUME OF MEMOIR, "ARE YOU
SOMEBODY?"
SINCE SHE WROTE HER NOVEL, "MY
DREAM OF YOU."
SINCE SHE WROTE THE SECOND
VOLUME OF MEMOIR, "ALMOST
THERE," THERE HAS BEEN A CHANGE
IN HER LIFE.
SHE IS NOW 62.
SHE HAS FALLEN IN LOVE WITH NEW
YORK.
GOOD.
SHE HAS MET A DIVORCED JEWISH
LAWYER FROM BROOKLYN.

[Audience laughing]

Robert says THEY MET, GOD
SAVE US ALL, ON THE INTERNET.

[Audience laughing]

Robert says HER TWICE
DIVORCED LAWYER, HER FRIEND HAS
AN EIGHT YEAR OLD DAUGHTER, WHO
DOESN'T LIKE NUALA O'FAOLAIN.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues AND NUALA
O'FAOLAIN KNOWS THAT SHE WILL
HAVE TO WORK HARD TO MAKE THE
RELATIONSHIP WORK, AND TO
ESTABLISH SOME KIND OF
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LITTLE
GIRL.
THIS IS NOT THE WILD AFFAIR OF
KATHLEEN DE BURCA AND SHEA.
IT IS NOT THE WILD AFFAIR THAT
KATHLEEN IMAGINED BETWEEN
MARIANNE TALBOT AND WILLIAM
MULLAN.
BUT IT HAS I THINK A GREATER
CHANCE OF SUCCESS.
I THINK THAT NUALA O'FAOLAIN
THE WRITER HAS MORE CHANCE OF
FINDING HAPPINESS THAN SHE EVER
HAD THAN WHEN SHE LAY IN THE
ARMS OF STRANGERS.
I'M CONFIDENT THAT SHE WILL BE
HAPPY.
I AM NOT QUITE AS CONFIDENT
THAT THE TENSIONS BETWEEN THE
IRISH AND THE ENGLISH WILL EVER
GO AWAY.

[Audience laughs]

Robert continues THE ENGLISH
WILL NEVER FORGIVE IRELAND'S
NEUTRALITY DURING THE SECOND
WORLD WAR.
AND THE IRISH WILL NEVER FORGET
THAT THE ENGLISH, OPPRESSORS OF
IRELAND FOR NEARLY 800 YEARS,
LET THOSE IRISH WHO COULD NOT
ESCAPE TO AMERICA STARVE TO
DEATH DURING THE THREE YEARS OF
THE GREAT HUNGER.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

A caption reads "A co-production of TVOntario and Robert Adams Inc."

Watch: Robert Adams on Nuala's O'Faolain's book My Dream of You