Fiction | June 19, 2020

On the second of April 1923 she was born in the main bedroom of the family home, in Drumcondra. Her colour was deep blue. The thundery richness of this blue, almost purple, with the yellow marbling of the afterbirth strung tight across it, caused the midwife to fear cyanosis. The midwife said nothing but took strong measures. She smacked the baby’s blood into motion with the flat of her hand, made loud entreaties. “Come along, come along, comealongcomealong,” she said. Mary’s reluctance to commence life, to acquiesce to the torment of existence, earned her the reputation of a slow starter, which she was to retain into old age. When at last she cried out from the midwife’s blows, she did so quietly, as if apologising for making her small dent in the surface of things.

The next day’s Irish Times carried the following announcement:

NOONAN—April 2nd, at 2 Glendalough Road, Drumcondra, the wife of P. J. Noonan, of a daughter.

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