A story of strong family ties stretching over generations, continents and miles.
Another Story Altogether takes its readers back in time to County Kerry and the West coast of Ireland. A way of life, though long gone is truthfully and tenderly preserved within the affectionate memoir of the author’s own recollections of Ireland’s colonial past, social changes and economic prosperity.
Ireland’s social history with its strong driving force towards change is the backdrop for Margaret O’Shea Bonner’s aspirations for a better life. The narrative arc explores the intergenerational stories from the early 1800s when the O’Shea family settled on land owned by an absentee landlord, where they went into farming. But limited opportunity and the drive for success took some of their five children away into the Irish diaspora, exile and back into the Irish heartland. We follow them through their challenges, loves and losses, and opportunities.
Another Story Altogether earns its title from O’Shea’s father who “knocked” the female family members on their affinity for the emotional telling of a tale. Good for O’Shea that she’s found her own voice in the memoir form, which is as University of Waterloo author, Professor Helen Buss says, “The art of reflection for women.”
Readers in Australia, U.S. or Canada and anyone, particularly those of Irish heritage are sure to find Another Story Altogether a welcome return to a simpler way of life. The many cultural references to the close knit farming, fishing and community life, strong willed women, Irish language and delicacies, and the quest for an education that enables young men an escape from the inevitability of the Anglo-Irish legacy and life is familiar. Though in the case of Another Story Altogether we get an intimate, up close and personal glimpse into Margaret O’ Shea’s unlikely journey from Kenmare, Co Kerry, Ireland (in Irish means Neidin, “little nest”), ending in a loving family life in Canada.
O’Shea’s journey tracks the reader far and away from the usual points of disembarkation for the Irish. Alongside her best friend and husband Kieran Bonner, they embarked on an adventure full of courage. Crisscrossing America, using a car destined for delivery in Los Angeles, they met up with sundry groups of characters, finally setting sights for Alaska’s oil patch, pushing further into the vast North and the arctic circle.
With today’s popularity of ancestry research, there is a growing trend as people look for past family members, resulting in a proliferation of TV shows, blogs, websites and publications that taps into a thriving genealogy market.
Another Story Altogether is a textbook example that exemplifies how to take a few documents and family memories and transform them into an entertaining and praiseworthy effort to tell a story that offers respect to our ancestors loves and life. Certainly, Margaret O’Shea gives due respect, writing in tenderness about her mother who died younger than she ought, to the women who nurtured Margaret, to her father’s struggles with dementia, her longings to reunite with a long lost brother and the choices her sister’s Sheila, Maura and Doris made that took two of them away.
Camrose in Alberta and Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario became the Bonner’s adopted homes. Kieran, VP Academic Dean, St. Jerome’s University and Margaret a social worker at The Working Centre both have contributed much experience, intelligence, talent and dry wit to their communities where they are loved and respected. A legacy they pass onto to their children, Roisin, Maive and Devin.