• West Cork Literary Festival 8-15 July 2022

Frank Brehany

Location: Monmouth, Wales & Charente, France


I started working life as a police-officer, but injury led to a return to education, studying law. I then became a lawyer and subsequently, I led a National Travel Consumers Organisation. In that role I highlighted Consumer stories, providing advocacy across Europe, USA & Australia, for improved Consumer Rights. I have extensive experience as a radio, press & TV commentator on Travel Rights.

In 2010, I began researching ‘A Magdalene Rose’, which was completed in 2022 & now subject to the securing of a publisher.

From 2017, I continued advocating rights and have written and self-published a book on Cabin Air Quality.

Current project

I have two projects.

The first is a 2021 self-published book on Cabin Air Quality. As I am heavily involved in arguing for improved safety both in Europe and the USA, I shall shortly be adding a new Chapter to the book. I will be carrying out further edits before re-publication later this year, to complement campaigning activities. This is a task that will likely evolve into a yearly project, to ensure that Consumers are up-to-date on this important topic.

The second project has centred around the completion of research (commenced in 2010), and writing and editing the story of ‘A Magdalene Rose’.

This is a story about a family secret, leading me to journey across the sweeping landscapes of Ireland, to discover a family lost, to find a Father’s past suffering entrenched in the Tuam Mother & Baby Home, and his subsequent ‘boarding-out’.

It is also about my Grandfather, who lost identity, who was in love, desperate to be with his son and lover.

My Grandmother was also an inmate of the Tuam Mother & Baby Home, and once finally separated from her son, she was placed into the Magdalen Laundry in High Park in Dublin. Her story reveals not just her life in captivity, but of survival, until her death, following 42 years spent in Institutions. But her story does not end there. Her death reveals a scandalous disregard not just for life, but for death itself.

It is a story that stretches across the reluctance & intransigence of Religion and State to preserve their own secrets, and the wonderful generosity of the Irish people, desperate to release secrets they held for so long.

The book was completed in 2022 and has been subjected to final editing. I am now seeking to secure a publisher for this story of our times, a story that reaches beyond Ireland’s shores and into many homes and communities around the world.

Through this story, I represent the return of the Children of the Scaradh.

Writing sample

Sample from ‘A Magdalene Rose’ © 2022:

One very good friend came up to me in tears and expressed her sorrow. As she was talking to me I could see that she had some fresh shamrock in her hands; it is often the tradition that Irish people living outside Ireland will always try to have delivered a piece of shamrock for St Patrick’s Day; a reminder of home.

She could see that I was looking at the shamrock; a powerful symbol, there in all its simplicity. She broke some off from her bunch and told me to give it to my Dad; such a small gesture which meant so much to me.

The most profound moment in my relationship with Dad came when I went to visit him in the funeral home on my own, on the very day his body was to be taken to the Church, to rest in the Church on the night before his funeral.

I remember the gentleness of the funeral home staff, who could see that I was upset, guiding me gently into the room where he lay and there they left me. I just stood frozen on the one spot, watching him peacefully lying there, all his stress and the trials and tribulations of the world had gone. I walked over to the coffin and just gently touched the top of his head, with my tears just falling on him, to join with him forever. I kissed the top of his head by his hairline and told him that I loved him.

As is custom with Irish funerals, you take the time to sit with the deceased and that is what I did, looking at him and thinking about past times, from him scoffing his Christmas dinner, to enjoying that cigar at Birmingham Airport before flying off to some foreign destination, to looking out of that port-hole and watching the excitement rise in him as the shores of Ireland approached.

As I sat there, I saw a bible open on a table. I picked it up and walked over to his coffin and said to him:

“I am going to say a prayer and I don’t want you rushing ahead, just stay with me”.

It may seem strange to speak like this, but I took my cue from the many Irish funerals I have attended and watched how people spoke to their loved ones. In this case, as I was about to say some prayers, I was reminded when the Legion of Mary came to the house which was usual in the month of May. This is the month when Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is celebrated by Catholics all around the world.

These strangers from the Legion, would come into the house to say the Rosary and as we moved the decades of the Rosary, turns would be taken by them and the head of the household, to lead each ‘decade’.

If you led, you would say the first half of the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer, the ‘Our Father’ or the ‘Glory be”. If you were following, you would always say the second half of those prayers.

It did not matter whether Dad led or was following, the speed at which he led or responded, led to a chaotic situation where the unsuspecting Legion members found themselves out of sync with him. As this chaotic scene was played out in front of the portable Virgin Mary statute, we kids would have our faces buried into the cushions of the chairs, whilst on our knees, trying to say the prayers, and mask the laughter under the glare of Mom. I was never sure whether it was his humour or whether he simply wanted them out of the house as quickly as possible that made him run through the Rosary at such a break-neck speed.

Reflecting on those moments brought me back quickly to the solemn scene in front of me, so I started reciting one of the Rosary’s common prayers:

“Hail Mary…Full of Grace…the Lord is with thee…blessed art thou amongst women…blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus…Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death…Amen”

I then continued with:

“Our Father…who art in Heaven…Hallowed by they Name…Thy Kingdom come…Thy will be done, On Earth, as it is in Heaven…Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation…and deliver us from evil…for thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, now and forever…Amen”

I finished my prayers over Dad by reciting and blessing myself at the same time:

“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. Eternal rest grant to you oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon you, may you rest in peace, Amen”.

I then looked down at the Bible in my hands and as I opened it, the page ribbon-holder opened the page automatically to a passage from the Gospel of St Matthew. I began to read and as I did tears welled in my eyes:

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth”.

“Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. At that moment I cried and asked that I would find comfort.

I paused and looked at Dad.

I continued with the passage realising that this was the Sermon on the Mount, a prayer to give hope to those in trouble, wronged or suppressed.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied”.

I started to cry realising the connection between Dad’s life and this scripture. I cried out looking at Dad and said:

“Oh Dad, you need your Justice, but also Justice for your Mom; I promise to you that I shall find her and restore Justice to your name and her name”; I quietly sobbed.

After a few moments, I continued my reading to Dad

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”.

I called out, “Oh Dad you were so merciful and kind; you deserve that mercy”.

By now I was feeling stronger and in a way energised by this wonderful prayer; I carried on reading to Dad.

“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God”.

I looked at him and said, “I hope he is welcoming you with open arms”.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God”.

“Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

I looked over to Dad and said to him: “Oh Dad, you suffered in silence, Justice will not escape you, not even in death”.

“Blessed are you when men reproach you, and persecute you, and speaking falsely, say all manner of evil against you, for My sake”.

By now, I was emotionally drained. I sat and talked gently aloud about the times when he was spoken against and made low by his parentage.

I placed the Bible down and reached for the shamrock and went over to his coffin. I could see that family members had placed items around his hands but there was space between his feet, I thought how nice it would be for him, when walking through the afterlife, his first sense would be the smells of Éireann’s earth as he walked over the shamrock; he would walk on a bit of old Ireland, toward his long lost family.

I kissed him again, my ritual over, my promise sealed.

As I walked away from him, I thought of him and what lay ahead and of the solemn promise I made.

All I had to do was to keep that promise, to find the courage to keep my word.

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