Monday 22 July 2019

Author’s first book draws on her Sligo upbringing

Ciara Galvin

Eileen Loving Finn has lived away from Sligo for over 50 years, but admits her spirit is always in Land of Heart's Desire.

Now, the former nurse is dipping her toe into writing and has just launched her first book 'The Clothesline' which is set in a ficticious Sligo area called 'Baybridge'.

Speaking to The Sligo Champion from Northern Virginia where she lives with her husband Paul, Eileen said she is very proud to have written her first book and that it got picked up by a publishing house.

Setting out to write a book two years ago, Eileen said it was always a dream of hers.

"I love the spine of a book, and love it on the shelf, when you stand it up and to think I would have a book bound and a story between two covers and my name on the spine was really what I set out to do. And especially when somebody said 'yes', five editors with the publisher read it," she explained.

Eileen, sister of the late Seamus Finn, the former editor of The Sligo Champion, explained how the book came about.

"You know what it's like getting clothes dry. There's all this language about it, 'sopping wet', or 'bone dry'. It started out being a little bit about that and about the second or third chapter in I began to think a day in your life is like that, you have a blank clothesline in the morning and things happen during the day, nice and fluffy, cashmere and lace, and then it can be a sudden old blanket that you'd never get up on a line."

She continued, "Or there could be a rag that you'd like to throw away but actually in life you can't throw away the events of the day."

Having many fond memories of Sligo lead Eileen to write the book.

"My parents had the shop on Holborn Street and our parents were very kind people. My mother thought us the dignity of helping someone was more important than the action of doing it."

Some characters in the book are based on family members of Eileen's, including her sister Breege (Keaveney).

Retiring from nursing two years ago after 50 years of service, Eileen ensured that one vein of the story around medical intervention was as accurate as possible.

"I'm a registered nurse as well so it took on a bit of a medical thing, a child in my class in school died, so I drew on some of that for the story."

Memories of growing up on Holborn St and people on The Hill are also reflected in the book, along with 'the beautiful Rosses Point and Strandhill'.

"It's obliquely biographical with a lot of embelishment."

Eileen said it took her approximately two years to write the book, and unlike many writers choosing a comfy study to pour their ideas onto the page, the Sligo woman preferred to stand up in her kitchen.

"I write standing up at my kitchen counter with a pencil and I employ a typist. Sometimes I go over to the stove and get a cup of tea and come back.

"It seems to just come out of the pencil and it gets ahead of you sometimes. You read it back and go, 'Well that's not very good grammar. but I get the point'. Sometimes you have things on the page before you recognise what your pen just did."

Living just outside Washington DC, in Northern VIrginia, Eileen still cherishes her memories of home and gets back to Sligo when she can.

"A part of my spirit is always at the ocean and is always in Sligo. Whenever I see a swan it's always got to be on the Garavogue, you can't see swans anywhere else, every other swan I see is dull looking."

She recalled, "I remember when The Glasshouse was The Silver Swan and Mick Higgins who owned it was a good friend of Daddy's and we would go over there. We used to go out in the evening and watch the men go salmon fishing."

Eileen's book was released was released two week's ago and she said feedback has been great. The book is currently being produced as an e book and Eileen will be coming to Sligo next week, and will have limited copies available to purchase in Easons.

Sligo Champion