The letter I wish I'd sent
Dear Mrs McHugh,
The year was 1958, Galway - it was September and we were back at school, a grey, forbidding place where speaking Irish was compulsory. I was in fifth class and in my third year with the same teacher. My mother saw an advertisement in the paper for your embroidery classes - ''Monday to Friday, 4 to 6pm - sixpence per class'' - and I was enrolled.
I can only say that from my first entry into your house, my life was enriched and the possibilities appeared endless. You were large and fat and greeted me at the door and brought me into your sitting room where 15 or 20 little girls sat around on stools and chairs, all sewing happily.