Maria Commins Feerick

Location: Mayo

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Maria Commins Feerick is a General Practice Nurse and published author. Her first book The Lost Christmas Sock was published in November 2023 by Mayo Books Press. She lives in south Mayo with her husband, Kevin, and their two children, Tom and Ollie.

Current project

Recession forces Nurse Jess to emigrate to London, hoping to escape the trauma of an Edinburgh assault three years ago. Being placed as a nurse working in the largest male prison in western Europe doesn’t help with her issues of low self-esteem and anxiety. Will she ever be able to adjust to her new life and learn to love herself? Or is she destined to be traumatised forever, unable to move on?

Jess meets and falls for an Irish guy called Niall, who plays on the local Parnell’s GAA team. He struggles with trust issues after his ex-girlfriend humiliated him by cheating on him for months with his teammate back home. This greatly impacts his and Jess’ relationship. At work, Jess is intimidated by a prisoner named Charlie who is in prison for the manslaughter of his girlfriend Katie in a car crash. He is inappropriate at times, but Jess’ anxiety holds her back from reporting him. Between the complications of her personal life and everything going on at work, Jess sometimes feels lost, but she isn’t going to give up on her new life in London.

Writing sample

Jess loved airports. The simplicity of drinking a coffee and people watching while glancing over a gossip magazine. The security of knowing that she was coming home in a few days. Airports had never phased her. Up until now, that is.

With her Primark wheely bag in tow, Jess stumbled over suitcases, attempting to find a vacant seat in the departures lounge. Not today. Better luck next time, she thought. She spread her old black Dunnes Stores quilted jacket on the floor, one she’d forgotten she had. There it was at the back of the wardrobe yesterday morning, waiting to be worn again. It was now being used as a matt, sprawled across the well-trodden floor. If only her mother could see her now. ‘Come up off that floor Jessica. You’ll get a kidney infection!’ she’d say. Jess put on her knock-off Ray Bans. The ones Anna brought her back from Lanzarote last summer. Not caring about how ridiculous she looked in the middle of January. She’d rather look like an idiot than have strangers see her cry.

This wasn’t a girly weekend like she had enjoyed on a few rare occasions before. Like when she’d finished her Leaving Certificate and stayed in that dive in Gran Canaria for five nights. Or, when she worked her arse off for the summer of 2008 to fund that girl’s trip to Santa Ponsa. One big blow out before commencing her second year of university. This time was different. Jess wasn’t coming home in a few days. She was at the airport because she had no choice. Working part-time as a healthcare assistant in the hospital was bound to help secure a permanent job when Jess finished her nursing internship in November 2011, or so she thought. With so few available positions in the hospital, and thirty something students in her nursing cohort, Jess had fallen victim to “The Crash”, the lethal parasite that was sucking the life out of Ireland. The cohort’s tutors had warned them about this parasite. Naively, Jess believed she would escape its advances. That she’d be the one that could tell her parents that all their scrimping and saving to put her through college was worth it. Was she really that special? Turns out no! Now, London was calling. She had to go.

Jess slumped into a now vacant window seat at Gate 1 in Knock Airport, using her slightly scuffed jacket again, this time as a blanket over her knees. The cabin crew walked amongst passengers calling, “priority boarding, anyone for priority boarding?” Jess politely answered no. Priority boarding was a luxury that few people could avail of at the moment. She abandoned the article she was reading, Navigating Recession Through 2012. Her body shivering at the mention of the ‘R’ word. The word that had brought her country to its knees. The word that had caused Jess and so many others like her to emigrate. Thoughts gathered in her mind like the clouds out the window. It’s quite bright for January, she thought. Quickly followed by, oh, what am I getting myself into? Wondering what she would do if she couldn’t cope? Jess and her mam could finish each other’s sentences. The thought of not being able to see Tina everyday made her weepy. Would they grow apart? Pulling out a tissue from her sleeve, she gently patted her tear drenched eyes. Thank God for her shades.

Three years previous, in the summer of 2009, Jess jumped at the chance to join her friends, Lynette and Anna, for a planned summer of fun and freedom in Edinburgh. It was what she needed. Especially after her breakup with Alan. Oh Alan, she shuddered at the thought of the lad. To this day, it grated on her that she couldn’t complete her trip as planned. It seemed like a wasted opportunity. Deep down Jess knew there was no way she could have stayed there that summer. Not after what happened.
Listening to the instructions from the intercom, she stood up, took a deep breath, and put her slender shoulders back. You can do this Jess; you’ve been through worse. She pulled up the handle of her suitcase, had one final look round, and made her way to the gate.

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