The French lady

Strength of Inis Meáin

At least thirty years ago I reckon it was, that she came to Inis Meáin for the first time and spent almost the rest of her life time here on the island. She did not know anybody but soon when she wandered along the winding roads she met the lady with whom she bonded for life. She bought a house and while it was in the process of being restored by islanders she could stay with the family. She loved that period of time in which she was in the direct company of the islanders as one of the stories she kept telling me about how grateful she felt to the ‘bean a’ tí’ (her hostess) to find a bottle filled up with warm water in her bed the first night.

Many decades before she was born at sea while her parents re-migrated from America to Ireland. Her childhood she spent in Donegal but as soon as she became a young adult she left. Many years she spent abroad where she and her husband raised their own family. After she became a widow she moved to France. It was in her mid-fifties however that she had the desire to come back to live in the country of her childhood but because she did not find anyone anymore she used to know in Donegal, she looked for other places to find rest and peace what she found on Inis Meáin.

Rest and Peace

Along her work in writing and translating there was always time to meet up with her islander friends in church or in the organisation of the Order of Malta for gatherings. Or in her home for a coffee or tea break which she loved to share with others.

Maria Magdalena
It was only in the last ten years that the two of us met as being neighbours across the road in Tigh Cháit. There she distinguished herself by ringing the chime, I used to have in the porch, as to say: time for a break for sugar and tea. I dearly loved the sort of chats we had. Sometimes I called her when there were French speaking visitors she might like to talk to and over she came.

Inis Meáin

As time went on she became more dependent on help from outside that about three years ago she moved away from Inis Meáin to live in a nursing home. From time to time we kept meeting one another there as we were able to continue our being together for a chat. Although it became more and more difficult for her to express herself in the way she wanted, these precious moments of sharing I will keep alive.

For Alexandra

Thank you, Alexandra, for everything you shared with all of us.

Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin