How it’s New York: Author Maura Mulligan teaches Irish dancing and Irish in New York, and is a frequent reader at Irish American Writers & Artists Salon.
How it’s Irish: Mulligan gives a bracing picture of life in Mayo in the 1940s and 1950s and immigration to New York.
Books Editor Michelle Woods finds Maura Mulligan’s memoir Call of the Lark fascinating: The book, she writes, “evokes an era not long past where the alternatives were really stark in Ireland”– with wry humor.
“You might be better off not getting married at all,” Maura Mulligan’s mother told her when she was a kid. “Tis a hard life, trying to rear a crowd like this.”
Mulligan, in her fascinating new memoir, Call of the Lark is not kidding about not getting married – except to Christ. Mulligan, an immigrant to New York from Mayo, joined a convent not long after arriving, following in the footsteps of her sister Mag.
The sheer poverty on the farm didn’t necessarily mean a bad childhood, but it meant America was, for many, the only alternative. Mulligan’s description of her father unable to say goodbye to her, as she headed off for the boat is a tearjerker. And don’t get me started on Spot the puppy and his miserable end.
Mulligan’s gentle, wry humor though brings us through the bonding at the convent despite a Dickensian Mother Superior, who brought them all in one day, one by one to tell them to take the little whip:
Now, Sister, there’s no need for hysteria. The novices and professed nuns who live at the motherhouse perform the discipline together on first Fridays. When the lights are turned out, we lift our habits to beat ourselves on the thighs while we pray the ‘De Profundis’“Oh my God,” I said.“Please do not to take God’s name in vain,” she said.