Sincere stories and substance: Catherine Corless, historian and activist, tells Orna Mulcahy what books are sitting on her bedside table
“I don’t read fiction, so my preference is for books that inspire and teach. I had the privilege of reading Bessborough, published this month (by Hachette) at proof stage. Author Deirdre Finnerty brings us into the lives of three women who gave birth before marriage in an Ireland unforgiving towards illegitimacy, and gives us an in-depth view of their incarceration, humiliation, trauma, and the effects of parting with their babies, a sorrow which never ends.”
“Twopence To Cross The Mersey by Helen Forrester (Harper Collins) is a true and poignant account of the author’s poverty-stricken childhood in Liverpool during the 1930s. Helen, a clever girl and the oldest of seven children of spendthrift parents, is taken out of school at the age of twelve to look after her siblings when her father loses his job and they descend into dire poverty. There is not a shred of self-pity in Helen’s matter-of-fact account and she does not even condemn her selfish parents. Her perseverance and determination to educate herself shines through, while she keeps her dignity through all of life’s obstacles.”
“Anthony De Mello’s Awareness (Zondervan) is a book I keep to hand and dip into whenever I need help. It’s not your usual run-of-the-mill self-help book with anecdotes, but rather a book that teaches us to really look at ourselves, to observe how we react in all situations, to acknowledge our own weaknesses, our faults. The author gives us a pathway to enlightenment (perhaps one not many would want to follow) by demonstrating that by losing attachment to the buzz of material goods and finding the stillness within ourselves, we will find peace.”
Catherine Corless’ memoir Belonging, about her search for justice for the Tuam Babies, is published by Hachette.
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