Mist, like a gossamer curtain, hung over the coast of Ireland as we sailed away.The waving crowd on the pier blurred as it swallowed them up.
Standing trembling at the stern, the Union Jack below me flapped like harsh, taunting applause. Then three deafening blasts from the ocean liner's foghorn jolted me into the realization that I would never see my beloved grandmother again. I sobbed uncontrollably.
The little Irish linen handkerchief that my grandmother gave me was soaked with tears. I would keep it with me always. Dainty, pale green embroidered shamrocks adorned each corner, and in the middle in darker green thread were the words, "Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand." I clutched it deperately, as if it was the last thread tying me to my grandmother and my homeland.
Canada. Big, cold and foreign. More foreign even than the
gypsy camp Kathleen and her father had lived in for three months while he searched for work. But there was no work in Ireland in the 1950s, so the entire McKenna family was sailing to Canada in response to promises of a better future. The gypsy woman said it would be so, and had given her a talisman for protection. But faced with a strange school, bullying classmates, and financial hardship, would it be enough to see her gypsy spirit through?
Cushla: "Gypsy Spirit" was published by General Store Publishing House (http://www.gsph.com) in December 2009.
The cover of this book shows Elizabeth and her two younger brothers outside their home in Belfast, one week before they left to move to Canada.