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Tales From Portlaw Volume 8: The Life and Times of Joe Walsh

128 pages1 hour


I grew up on my mother’s stories. Although an Irish woman of small stature and imaginative mind, stories didn’t come any ‘taller’ than those tales told by my mother. They would stretch the bounds of one’s credulity beyond the realms of possibility, and yet, she always made me ‘want to believe them’.

I was born in Portlaw and when my time comes to lie at the other side of the green sod, it is my wish that one third my ashes shall be placed upon my grandparents' grave, William and Mary Fanning, along with my uncles, Willie Fanning and Johnnie Fanning who are also buried there.

Although small in size and population, Portlaw is famous for having been a ‘model village’ long before similar village concepts like Saltaire in West Yorkshire or Rowntrees in York were established. Although its fortune as a village of importance has waned over the years, and particularly since the closure of its last major business, the Tannery, it nevertheless remains a potent force in the minds of all of us who were born there.

I'd had dozens of books published between 1990 and 2005, at which time I had initially decided to hang up my pen. My wife Sheila however, persuaded me to resume my writing of stories after we met in 2010. I had always wanted to write short stories for the adult reader, so after having been persuaded to return to writing, I decided to recount some of the stories told to me by my mother long ago. Being a person with my own imagination, I have taken the germ of her tales and elaborated them with the aid of 70 years of wisdom and a splash of literary licence to arrive at the final result.

'The Life and times of Joe Walsh' is Volume Eight in my 'Tales from Portlaw' series. It is a story of failed relationships, broken promises, unfaithful marriages, lesbianism, betrayal, murder and revenge.

Joe Walsh is an only child whose father rejects her at birth. Her mother always dreamed of becoming a writer but her husband forbade such. Joe’s mother is abandoned by a cruel husband and decides to escape her unhappy marriage in Ireland and begins life anew in England as an unmarried mother in the 1950’s.
Mother and young child come to Liverpool where they face discrimination as foreigners and being a single parent. Over the years, Joe’s mother re-establishes herself, goes through a bogus church blessing to be identified as a married woman and pursues her long held dreams of becoming a writer.

Estranged from her parents, Joe’s mother finds true happiness once again in the arms of a friend’s husband, before setting up house and home in Haworth, West Yorkshire.

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