For several years now, readers have eagerly awaited the latest in Patrick Taylor’s series of novels featuring Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and his cronies in Ballybucklebo, Ireland.
Over the years we’ve learned about Fingal’s past, his first tragic marriage, his early career, and his recent remarriage to his beloved Kitty. We’ve met “Kinky” Auchinleck, devoted housekeeper and watched a procession of young people mature and several enter the medical profession themselves, including Dr. Barry Laverty, who now sees patients with Fingal as well.
Latest in the series is An Irish Country Cottage, which begins in late December of 1968. For the most part, life is good in Ballybucklebo, but increasing tensions between the Catholic and Protestant factions elsewhere in Ireland threaten the peace and security of the village.
Dr. Laverty and his schoolteacher wife Sue find themselves caught up in the drama, especially Sue, who insists on joining a peaceful march. Sadly the events turns bad, with the marchers attacked and many seriously injured.
The Lavertys are also increasingly worried about their unsuccessful efforts to start a family. It’s early days in the world of fertility clinics and much testing, thinking, investigating, and praying must be done.
But such cares are swept away when the cottage housing Donal Donnelly and his family is destroyed by fire. Barely escaping with the clothes on their backs, Donal, his wife, and their two daughters quickly learn that their fellow villagers, Catholic and Protestant alike, know and practice love of their neighbors.
Meanwhile yet another young woman in the village, already the mother of four and recovering from a recent miscarriage, approaches Dr. O’Reilly about the possibility of preventing another pregnancy. The seasoned doctor must tread carefully as he advises the woman, a devout Catholic, about the matter.
As the weeks pass, the Ballybuckbo citizens look after one another. The Donnelly home is rebuilt and furnished, Barry and Sue continue on their journey to parenthood, and the desperate mother and her husband learn about birth control methods.
It’s a time of tension in Ireland and much suffering will occur and many lives will be lost in the coming years as the world prepares for a new decade, but through it all, Dr. O’Reilly and his fellow Ballybuckbo residents, at least for the time being, remain peaceful and loving.
Stokely Memorial Library now has An Irish Country Cottage, along with the earlier works in the series. They are wonderful reads.
Located at 383 East Broadway, Stokely Memorial Library is open Mondays—Saturdays from 10-5 and may be reached by telephone at 423-623-3832.