hand, made loud entreaties. “Come along, come along, comealongcomealong,” she said. Mary’s reluctance to commence life, to acquiesceto the torment of existence, earned her the reputation of a slow starter,which she was to retain into old age. When at last she cried out fromthe midwife’s blows, she did so quietly, as if apologising for making hersmall dent in the surface of things.
The next day’s Irish Times carried the following announcement:NOONAN—April 2nd, at 2 Glendalough Road, Drumcondra, the wife ofP. J. Noonan, of a daughter.
The redbrick house had a shiny blue door and a brass knocker toohigh to reach. Beside the front door, the narrow beds of flowers (snowdrops, snowdrops, snowdrops) were guarded by hooped railings. Newlypainted, they left a sticky horseshoe of white gloss on the back of thatdress of giant cornflowers. Daddy gripped her under her arms andswung her away from them, up and away. Always in a suit, Daddy, andsmelling of his pipe. Bristled smoke-smelling cheek laid against herown. In the mornings he closed the shiny front door behind him withone hand on his hat, his head slightly bowed. The door banged shut andyou saw his hat and the white of his face momently in the wrinkles ofthe glass, flashing. And then it was gone. That dress was ruined. Yearslater Mother still complained, that dress of blue cornflowers which youspoiled with your leaning! Always resting, leaning, the slow starter, theblood sluggish in her veins. God bless that midwife.
On the third of September 1929 her mother removed her banana toastbefore she had finished it and took her hand and led her to the busstop under the wall of the Archbishop’s Palace. They travelled on thelower deck as far as Eccles Street, where her mother handed her to Sister Dymphna of the Dominican College. In later years she travelled toschool unaccompanied, walked to the stop and waited for the swayingbus to come down the Drumcondra Road. On winter mornings theleaves on the footpath were crisp with frost; they arched their backs withcold. She wore a navy blue serge dress and white collar, detachable. Longblack stockings, also.
The boys going to St. Patrick’s wore their cowboy uniforms: miniature ten-gallon hats, tasselled chaps, waistcoats of denim, and pearl-handled revolvers bouncing at their hips.