A little late for St. Patrick’s Day, but timing has never been my strong suit.
I’m a Ryan by birth and a Donovan by osmosis. So Earnest O’Malley’s memoir On Another Man’s Wound was required reading in my teenage years.
O’Malley was studying medicine in Dublin when he witnessed the Easter Uprising and subsequently (secretly) joined the Irish resistance against the Black and Tans. He was in the IRA’s flying column (they seemed to literally fly around the country on their feet). What I remember most about the book is the feeling of excitement (oh the hiding, dark county roads, and heaths: I could almost smell it), danger and the sympathy he provoked in me for other people’s pain and oppression.
It’s been many years since I read the book, but it has always stuck with me, not least of all because I love the title which according to searc’s web guide “comes from an expression in Irish, ‘Deacair suan ar chneidh gcarad’ meaning ‘It is hard to sleep upon a friend’s wound’, coined by the 16th century Fermanagh poet, Eochaidh Ó hEoghusa, in reference to Ireland’s ‘wound of oppression’.”
It’s a beautifully stirring book and by the way, the Irish soda bread pictured above (that I polished off this morning) is sublime.