REMINDERS OF THE HAPPIER TIMES OF MY CHILDHOOD
PHOTOGRAPHED IN THE BLUE DRAWING-ROOM OF OUR HOUSE IN AILESBURY ROAD, DUBLIN, IRELAND
ON THE LEFT, MY GRANDMOTHER, VIDA LENTAIGNE
IN THE CENTER, MY AUNT FANNY BRODIE
ONE THE RIGHT, HER SISTER, MY AUNT KITTY CAHILL
Actually, I’m not completely sure of the location because my mother created an almost identical room in the next house she moved to—which was Killarney Hill, Bray—which I loved (it was big and had 5 acres of land) but which my sister, Maxine, memorably described as a “house of evil.” She never explained why. I have some ideas on the matter. It is fairly safe to assume they had to do with sex. It was my mother’s main interest and yielded three husbands, numerous lovers, and 12 children. I was the eldest—a dubious privilege in some ways. Fun in others.
I associate the above three ladies with happiness because although I had a pretty miserable upbringing at home, and was sent to boarding school at the advanced age of five (which I hated) I loved staying with my grandmother (normally on her farm in the summer) and with my two aunts (collectively known as “The Fannies”) at Easter. They lived in Birr, County Offaly.
Sadly, I have very few photos of my grandmother. She was, as you can see, a very distinguished looking woman—and I absolutely adored her.
It was she who first introduced me to the world of books—and I have been in her debt ever since. She was a selfless woman who did more good in the world than anyone I have ever met.
She died in 1976 and I was heart-broken. I knew that life would never be the same—and it hasn’t been.
But, it’s a pretty good life for all that.