Veronica tells us how she sometimes would find a cuttlefish bone on the beach so pure that she has to slip it into her pocket , the smooth arc of it comforts her. And at night she wanders her house and writes trying to exorcise her demons by laying 'them out in nice sentences'. The imagery is quite powerful.
Brighton is a cheerful seaside town in East Sussex on the south coast of England, an hour from London. It is famous for its pier, its amusement arcades and its tea houses. Graham Greene set his classic novel 'Brighton Rock' here and a movie was made of the novel in 1947 starring Richard Attenborough. The movie was remade in 2010 starring Helen Mirren and John Hurt.
The hotel Lamb Nugent saw Ada in was the Belvedere Hotel in Great Denmark Street five minutes walk from Dublin's main thoroughfare of O'Connell Street. The hotel is set in an 18th century Georgian house in a very historic part of the city which has many literary links. The Irish Writers' Museum and Centre are nearby as is the James Joyce Centre, the Garden of Rememberance with its magnificent scupture of the Children of Lir, the Gate Theatre and many of the streets mentioned in Joyce's 'Ulysses'.
Many of the places mentioned by Veronica in the book are on the Northside of Dublin. The family was reared there and Ada's house was also in Phibsboro. Many of her siblings who stayed in Ireland appear to have settled in this general area. Veronica lives with her husband Tom and her children in a suburb called Booterstown in the more upmarket area of South Dublin.The areas mentioned Phibsboro, Clontarf, Constitution Hill are all within a fifteen minute walk of O'Connell Street Bridge.
Lent in the Christian tradition is the forty day period leading up to Easter Sunday when the Resurrection of Jesus is celebrated. During Lent it is customary for Christians to sacrifice something so they too may join Jesus in his suffering. Many Christians abstain from meat or alcohol or cigarettes or sweets or some such pleasure and offer this self-denial up to God as penance for their sins and as a sign that they are reflecting on the sacrifice it is thought Jesus Christ made for all mankind. Ash Wednesday in particular was marked by all believers sporting a large ash thumbprint on their foreheads in memory of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. It is a highly significant penitential Christian rite, hugely observed in Ireland’s largely Roman Catholic population even at supposedly non-secular government levels until very recent years. The former Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, was ribbed unmercifully in the media and by a large percentage of the populace for the particularly large dark thumbprint he would sport on that day every year of his many years in office. Mr Ahern is pictured above in 2005 with Pope Benedict, the current Pope or Head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Marc Bolan was lead singer with T-Rex a popular English rock band in the early Seventies. He was a singer/songwriter, guitarist and poet. He had a highly original sense of style and fabulous stage presence, Marc helped create the glam rock era and was idolised by many young people rebelling against the norms of the day. Marc could not avoid the rock n' roll lifestyle of drink and drugs and being a rock star however, his health suffered and hedied aged thirty in 1977.