Born a bastard to a teenage mother in the slums of 1950s Dublin, Martha has to be a fighter from the very start. As her mother moves from man to man, and more children follow, they live hand-to-mouth in squalid, freezing tenements, clothed in rags and forced to beg for food. This book tells the story of her early life.
Aged 13, Martha Long is rescued by the courts from the clutches of her evil stepfather and her feckless mother. After numerous arrests for shoplifting, a judge rules that she is to be sent to a convent school. Her initial relief at escaping the abuse and neglect she suffered at home is, however, short-lived. This is her memoir.
Martha is now in her thirties. Her daughter has left home and she is lonely and vulnerable. The hard knocks have taken their toll on her health. As she teeters on the brink of a nervous breakdown, a phone call summons ghosts from the past. She discovers that one of the family is dead and the others need her help.
After a failed suicide attempt and recovery in the mad house, Martha is heading for France to be reunited with the one true love of her life. Father Ralph Fitzgerald rescued her from the streets when she was sixteen and was the first person to show Martha true love and affection.
On hearing that Jackser, her childhood abuser, is seriously ill, Martha is elated, thinking that finally she will be able to watch him suffer. But in the hospital she sees a frightened, lonely old man and realises with a shock that he seems to regret his earlier actions.
At 16, Martha collapses on the streets, suffering from starvation and exposure. She has reached rock bottom, but after Martha is taken to hospital, Lady Luck smiles kindly on her and she is given the opportunity to get off the streets for ever. Before long, Martha is on the way to leading the normal life she has so long dreamt of.
The Maamtrasna Murders provides a cultural history of the events and subsequent impact of the renowned Maamtrasna murders from the perspective of language change in late nineteenth-century Ireland. Uncovering archival materials not previously consulted, this work moves Maamtrasna's violation of human rights from a local to a global stage.
Along with the two former female Presidents of Ireland, all of the living female ministers who have sat at the cabinet table are interviewed here for the first time, collectively bringing together their voices to reveal the challenges and triumphs of getting to the top table of Irish political life.