I thank the Canada Council for the Arts for the Emerging Writers' Grant which funded Greener Grass research.
Touching the Past
I had done extensive research through books and websites, but nothing inspired me as much as travelling to Ireland. Every town, every cemetery, every family held a thousand stories just waiting to be told. I had read that during those famine years (1845-1850) over a million Irish died from hunger and disease and another million emigrated -- but walking their roads, seeing their jail cells, standing on the shores where these people once stood and watched famine ships leave one after another, touched my heart. Every name on tenant lists, ships' manifests, inmate records, and every name left unwritten over mass graves was that of a person who had lived, loved, and lost. Thousands of them.
What were their stories?
160 years after the famine, as an Irish emigrant myself, I need to hear those stories and to imagine the parts I can never know for sure. Kit Byrne is a fictional character, but I hope that through her story I can breathe life into a time that many have forgotten and capture the spirit of a people who deserve to be remembered.
Setting Sail (4)Over a million Irish died during the famine years of 1845-1850.Over a million more emigrated in "famine ships" for places like Canada or America. The journey lasted six weeks. But many did not live to see land again.
Wicklow Jail (3)A museum curator recommended I visit the jail while researching. I didn't know how that related to my research... but I soon learned.
Cottage Life (5)These were taken at Muckross Farms in Killarney, Ireland