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Freedom is a Land I Cannot See: A tragic story of love, life and death during the birth of Irish independence

Irish Fiction

Freedom is a Land I Cannot See

Peter Cunningham

Sandstone Press, paperback, 256 pages, €12.60; e-book £4.16

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Timeless writing style: Author Peter Cunningham. Photo by Tony Gavin

Timeless writing style: Author Peter Cunningham. Photo by Tony Gavin

Freedom is a Land I Cannot See by Peter Cunningham

Freedom is a Land I Cannot See by Peter Cunningham

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Timeless writing style: Author Peter Cunningham. Photo by Tony Gavin

It's an age-old literary device. Someone comes into possession of a manuscript containing secrets from the past. In this case, it's a package of loose, almost indecipherable typewritten pages, tied with twine, whose mysteries are eventually revealed to tell a painful  story from the early years of Irish independence.

It's narrated by Rose Raven, who is blind as the story begins, and has also lost her first love. She is the daughter of an Irishwoman and a former British soldier stationed in Dublin. Her brother, Ultan, is an office boy at the Irish Independent office on Middle Abbey Street.

To begin with, the reader isn't told how she went blind - that is only revealed in the novel's final pages - but Rose's inability to see what's going on, in more ways than one, is a recurring theme, reflected in that ambiguous title.