Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Flowers Of Kenmare

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land; 
When you can go no more hold me by the hand, 
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember by Christina Rossetti

Ooh, the thrill and the hurting 
Will never be mine. 
The thrill and the hurting 
It will never be mine. 
It can never be 
The thrill and the hurting 
Will never be mine.

Never Be Mine ~ by Kate Bush

Blessed are they that mourne: for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5:4 (King James)

Opening Prayer (by hearthy

All The Flowers

Kilkenny, Ireland. 


Kilkenny was known as Ireland's Medieval Capital on account of it's rich cultural heritage and it was also referred to as the Marble City with regard to the black polished limestone that was quarried around the city.  

It was situated in the Nore Valley on both sides of the River Nore, at the centre of County Kilkenny in the province of Leinster in the south-west of Ireland. 

Kilkenny was one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland and was just seventy-five miles from Dublin.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent 

A beautiful old convent which stood on a hill outside town. 

It was shrouded by sheltering trees and exuded a profound air of serenity. 

A gravel path leading to the town wound through the convent's vast grounds.

Countless people used the path every day. 

The sight of nuns tending to the garden or walking single file through the convent's grounds was a familiar sight to the travellers.

People would often cross themselves as they observed the nuns in contemplation and men would politely doth their caps.  

Sometimes people would discreetly entreat the nuns to remember them in their prayers. 

Oftentimes people would use the path simply to admire the beauty of the garden.

And to bask in its peace.

All the nuns were allotted a task in the maintenance of the garden.

And one of the older nuns had the special duty of tending to the roses.

She was particularly diligent in her task - tenderly caring for each rose as if it were her child. 

The older nun knew each rose by name and she cherished their captivating fragrance.

She reveled in the splendour of the garden. 

Her name was Sister Cynthia.

And she had been so long at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent that she could no longer remember the year she had arrived. 

Sister Cynthia had a sweet face and bright black eyes which danced whenever she smiled. 

She was delicate and petite.

Her small hands were worn from years of washing, scrubbing and tending to the garden. 

Sister Cynthia had a compassionate heart and she was never happier than when she was mending and sewing shirts and smocks for the poor. 

Or caring for the destitute young women who were taken in by Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent.

She willingly took all the novice nuns under her wing and became a surrogate mother to them. 

Sister Cynthia always had a kind word or a pearl of wisdom to impart to those who were suffering.

Her intense maternal instincts and heightened intuition found their outlet in caring for those who were lost or crushed in spirit. 

The older nun was the anchor of peace that they so sorely needed. 

Ireland Countryside (by ladyashley
Sister Cynthia had lost track time at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent.

Time had become obsolete.

Days had turned into months.

And months had turned into years. 

The lives of the nuns at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convenwere governed by ritual and the cycle of the seasons. 

Their days were as governed by their devotions as they were by the natural order of things.

They led a life that was simple and unencumbered.

The nuns of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent had left the noise of the world far behind.

To embrace a life of solitude and contemplation.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent was their haven.

And a refuge for the daughters of impoverished families who were taken in by the convent.

Sister Cynthia took a particular joy in caring for these young girls 

She had not been much older than them when she had first arrived at the convent.

Sister Cynthia was little more than a teenager when she was accepted into the order.

In the blink of an eye her life had passed by. 

And suddenly she was older.

Suddenly she felt the cold when the east wind blew.

And her frail body ached from years of exertion. 

Her thick black hair was now white. 

And her lovely face was gently lined.

But time had not dimmed her spirit.

The nun took great joy in observing the life around her. 

Sister Cynthia loved to observe the countless people who walked through the convent's grounds every day on their way to town.

It was her little conceit.

And she always knelt in the same spot by the window in the large chapel - so that she could look out upon the travellers who passed fleetingly through her world. 

Sister Cynthia often pondered on these travellers.

And on the hand that had been dealt them. 

It was 9 am. 

Terce - the third of the seven canonical hours.

Sun light streamed in through the large convent windows upon rows of nuns keeling in supplication.

Sister Cynthia was at her usual place in the beautiful old chapel.

She was but one in row upon row of prostrate nuns in prayer that morning.

A peaceful hush had descended upon the chapel.

The only sound was the sound of voices chanting in prayer.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent was ancient and elegant.

It was a spartan yet homely sanctuary.

And the old chapel transuded tranquillity.

The white walls of the chapel were hung with religious iconography.

Beautiful images of Jesus and his mother.

Finely crafted statues of the holy family and the saints.

Above the beautiful altar hung a large crucifix.

It was the focal point of all those in prayer and contemplation.

Christ looked down benevolently upon the women who had given up their lives to be his bride.

The floor was cold and hard.

But Sister Cynthia and the other nuns no longer felt it.

The intoxicating aroma of countless flowers wafted in from the garden and filled the chapel.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent basked in the glow of countless prayers and good deeds and of the fragrances of a myriad flowers that flourished in it's exquisite garden.  

The sound of people walking through the grounds of the convent as they made their way to town could be heard from the chapel's open windows.

Sister Cynthia's ears were attentive to the cries outside.

And on the souls who passed by.

The nuns of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent were called to give religious instruction and spiritual guidance to the community of Kilkenny.

They left the cloistered peace of the convent and re-entered the noise of the world outside.

They were like butterflies leaving a cocoon.

Sister Cynthia was often among them.

She was chosen on account of her gentle and compassionate nature. 

The older nun frequently became a surrogate mother to the schoolgirls who looked to her for comfort and direction.

Sister Cynthia took her calling to heart and she gave freely to those who asked her and prayed earnestly for all the girls in her charge.

She was particularly attentive to the motherless among them.

The schoolgirls in turn regarded Sister Cynthia with affection.

The older nun believed it was her duty to guide the young in the ways of peace.

She charged them to learn by her example and to take heart the teachings of Jesus Christ and of St Francis of Assisi.

Sister Cynthia sincerely believed that she had been called to heal those whose hearts had been broken.

Just as her own heart had been broken.

Time had not dimmed the remembrance.

Kneeling in the quiet of the chapel - Sister Cynthia remembered.

St Martha's Convent School on a crisp Autumn day.

A young girl sitting at the front of the class listening intently to every word Sister Cynthia said.

A quiet little schoolgirl with sparkling black eyes and raven hair tied in a bun.

A face full of innocence.

She was looking up at Sister Cynthia with large trusting eyes.

And hanging onto every word she said.

Suddenly Sister Cynthia was looking at herself as in a mirror.

And Sister Cynthia was overcome with love for her.

Suddenly the older nun felt an overwhelming urge to save the little girl.

To shield her from the jealous eyes of the world.

And to protect her from harm.

For a few moments Sister Cynthia pondered the destiny of the young girl.

And what was written for her in the Book of Life.

Once upon a time Sister Cynthia had been a young girl too.

A simple Irish girl waiting for life to begin.

A girl named Erinn O'Neil.

Her face had not always been lined.

Or her hands so calloused.

Her back wasn't always bent from years of exertion.

Nor had it always ached so.

Once upon a time Sister Cynthia had been a vibrant young girl who put flowers in her hair.

A beautiful girl with long raven hair, onyx black eyes and porcelain skin.

Once upon a time she had danced at recitals and written poetry.

She had dreamt of marrying a fine man and being a mother.

And little Erinn O'Neil had given thanks in the grand Holy Cross Church for the happy life she had led.

Once upon a time she had been the beloved daughter of Carrick and Cathleen O'Neil.

A devout little family who ran The Ring of Kerry guest house in Kenmare.

Who lived in a comely little townhouse beside it and who were well regarded by the community.

Erinn O'Neil had been the apple of her father's eye.

And her mother's delight.

Her parents doted upon her.

And cherished her.

It was 1932 again.

As vivid as if it were yesterday.

And Sister Cynthia was back in the comfortable townhouse she shared with her parents.

Her heart leapt as she remembered everything as it was.

Even to the painting of Jesus with his exposed heart above the stairs.

The older nun could smell her mother's cooking and hear her fathers laughter.


Every Friday evening, Carrick O'Neil took out his big collection of jazz records and danced with his beautiful daughter.

The couple jitterbugged to Benny Goodman and Glen Miller as Cathleen O'Neil watched adoringly and clapped with appreciation.

Eventually Cathleen joined them and they all danced with joy.

Those were happy memories.

Carrick O'Neil was a tall and well built man.

He was handsome and distinguished looking with sleek black hair and clear blue eyes.

O'Neil was a man of few words but when he did speak he did so meaningfully.

Fade's Sanctuary (by hearthy
Cathleen O'Neil was petite and pretty.

She had auburn hair and bright hazel eyes.

Cathleen O'Neil was lively and engaging.

The Ring of Kerry guesthouse frequently rang with the sound of her delighted laughter.

She was the heart of the family.

But little Erinn was the jewel in the crown.

From the very beginning the child had revealed a compassionate heart.

At the age of eight she bought in a stray tabby cat that she found mewing outside the front door.

Erinn named the creature Cleary and lavished affection upon it.

The cat in turn became devoted to the little girl.

The O'Neil's had longed for a large family.

But Cathleen O'Neil had struggled to conceive.

Years past and the couple had all but given up hope.

Carrick O'Neil vowed that if ever God granted them a child that he would dedicate that life to Him.

When Cathleen fell pregnant it seemed like a direct answer to prayer.

A miracle had occurred.

The arrival of a bonny baby girl had made the O'Neil household complete.

And from the very beginning the child was special.

Little Erinn O'Neil was a bright and immensely giving child.

She was a comfort and a balm.

A knowing child - prudent beyond her years.

Cathleen O'Neil earnestly believed that her daughter had been touched by the hand of the Virgin.

She was an exceptional child and she and her husband were loathe to let her out of their sight in the early days.

Only with great difficulty would they allow her schooling.

And the first break in their fierce bond had been made.

Erinn O'Neil was eighteen years old now.

No longer a little girl but a young woman.

The most beautiful flower in all of Kenmare was blossoming.

Erinn O'Neil carried herself like a fine young lady and her genteel manners bought admiration from all quarters.

Others were beginning to notice her Celtic beauty and charm.

And numerous people were already secretly enamoured with her.

Her lovely ways and sweet voice had captured many a heart.

But Erinn O'Neil only had eyes for one lad.

Davin Flynn.

He was a farmers boy and the two had met some months before when he had accompanied his father on a delivery of eggs and poultry to the guest house.

His father Donul Flynn was a familiar face to the O'Neil's.

He regularly delivered eggs and poultry to the guesthouse.

But the boy had never accompanied his father before.

And he made quite an impression.

Davin Flynn was a vigorous nineteen year old.

He was tall and good looking with red gold hair and bright green eyes.

Flynn had a sunny disposition and a ready laugh.

He was full of Irish charm and his brilliant personality seemed to fill every room.

And from the first moment he noticed Carrick O'Neil's gentle daughter Davin Flynn knew he was truly in love for the first time in his life.

He had never seen anyone like her before.

She had such a comforting presence.

Erinn O'Neil was dressed in a silk chiffon floral print dress and her long black hair cascaded over her shoulders.

There was such a serene aura surrounding her.

Her face was pure and her doe eyes were large and innocent.

Erinn O'Neil had led a sheltered life and she had never been far from her mother's side.

She had barely even to spoken to a boy.

Davin Flynn gazed transfixed as the gentle daughter of Carrick O'Neil delicately folded napkins.

Goodness seemed to shine in her sweet face.

"You must be an angel!" Davin Flynn declared.

Erinn O'Neil looked up at the boy.

And his heart stopped.

Then she smiled.

Some Sort of Paradise (by hearthy
And it was the most beautiful smile Davin Flynn had ever seen.

She was an angel.

"Aye!" Flynn cried "I made you smile!"

Erinn O'Neil blushed brightly and lowered her eyes.

The curious boy was still gazing intently at her.

Her face was as soft and pure as the face of the mother of Jesus in the painting that hung above the little shrine in the farmhouse.

"Your father will be looking for you" Erinn O'Neil said.

Those were the first words she had ever spoken to him.

"I'll be seeing you!" Davin Flynn declared as he bounded out.

Still unable to take his eyes off her.

By the end of the day Davin Flynn was vowing to return as quickly as possible to The Ring of Kerry guesthouse.

The captivating daughter of Carrick O'Neil was suddenly as vital to his existence as the air he breathed.

Erinn O'Neil retired that day with the hope that she would once again see the handsome boy who had been so charming.

And she did not have to wait long.

He was back within three days.

Davin Flynn was cycling to the guest house with food supplies in the sure and certain hope that he would see Carrick O'Neil's daughter.

The young boy was given a warm welcome by Cathleen O'Neil who was already quite taken with him.

But the object of his affection was quietly serving guests their lunch in the elegant dining room and Davin Flynn watched her with silent admiration.

Erinn O'Neil's joy was evident when she looked up to see the appealing boy who had addressed her so charmingly just a couple of days before.

He had returned.

Erinn O'Neil smiled brightly.

Davin Flynn waited patiently for Carrick O'Neil's daughter.

She came out to him and he suddenly pulled out a small daisy from his coat pocket and placed it in the palm of her small hand.

Erinn O'Neil was deeply touched by the gesture.

"How pretty it is!" She cried as she held the flower in her hand.

"You should always have flowers!" Davin Flynn declared.

And she knew he meant it.

Erinn O'Neil was the most beautiful flower of all.

"Thank you" she replied.

"My name is Davin!" The boy informed her "Davin Flynn!"

"And I am Erinn!" She replied "Erinn O'Neil!"

They smiled shyly at each other.

The flower of love was growing between them.

Carrick and Cathleen O'Neil quietly observed the young couple.

Something was passing between Davin Flynn and their daughter.

They could feel it.

Carrick O'Neil was fiercely protective of his daughter.

"You've got to let her go!" Cathleen O'Neil gently urged her husband "She's no longer a child. She's a young woman now"

And the imposing man had to concede that his wife was right.

He nodded silently.

"She has to find her own path" Cathleen added as she put a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

He could not deny that his daughter was glowing and that Donul Flynn's son was making her happy.

But Carrick O'Neil was unsettled.

Erinn O'Neil stole away to the magnificent old Holy Cross Church of Kenmare at the end of the day.

She lit a candle and said a prayer for herself and her loved ones.

Then she added a little prayer for Davin Flynn.

Erinn O'Neil looked up at the image of the mother of Jesus above her.

The Virgin looked down at her with large compassionate eyes.

She was the flower of Nazareth.

The most beautiful flower of all.

"Thank you Mother" Erinn O'Neil whispered.

The young Irish girl was like a sweet damask rose about to blossom.

She was emerging into a brave new world.

In the early days of the courtship,  Erinn's cousin Grace often accompanied the young couple.

Grace was a pretty eighteen year old with abundant auburn hair and grey eyes.

She was studying to be a nurse and was already engaged to a local boy named Patrick McLachlan and she was deemed sensible and level-headed enough to accompany the couple.

Occasionally Davin Flynn's best friend would take them all for a spin in his car.

Marty Shannon was nineteen and a likely lad.

He was tall and good looking with wavy brown hair and clear blue eyes.

Marty Shannon had known Davin Flynn since he was a toddler and he was always up for a joke and a jape.

The two boys had often talked about trying their luck in Australia.

But life had changed since Flynn had met Carrick O'Neil's daughter.

Erinn O'Neil was the perfect Irish woman.

Davin Flynn had hit the jackpot.

Kenmare was a picturesque town in the South West of Ireland which linked the Ring of Kerry with the Ring of Beara.

Often Davin Flynn and Erinn O'Neil would take a trip to Kenmare Bay with Grace in tow and walk by the coast.

Erinn loved nothing more than to be by the sea just at sunset and Davin was only too happy to oblige.

Tradition was an important part of 1930's Ireland.

And a young girl could pay a heavy price for losing her good name.

Girls who had children out of wedlock or were engaging in illicit sex or were in the wrong place at the wrong time could find themselves in a Magdalene laundry or an asylum.

The first institution had been founded in Dublin in 1765 by Lady Arabella Denny and it's purpose had been to rehabilitate "fallen women".

But in reality the women were stripped of their rights,  locked away and forced to do menial tasks.

Women were frequently physically, emotionally and psychologically abused in these institutions and many of them never saw their families again.

Those who did emerge were emotionally crippled for life.

Such could be the fate of a young woman who strayed from the path.

Erinn O'Neil was acutely aware of her place in society.

And she wanted to make her father and mother proud of her.

Carrick O'Neil liked the Flynn family.

And he began meeting the patriarch of the family at The Horseshoe public house for a drink.

Donal Flynn had bought up his son and two daughters alone following the early death of his wife Christa.

He had valiantly chosen not to remarry.

Donul Flynn was a good man by all accounts.

He was short and stocky with brown hair and hazel eyes.

Like Carrick O'Neil, he was a man of few words.

But his word was his bond.

Donul Flynn's two daughters had become surrogate sisters to Erinn O'Neil.

Shona was eighteen and Claire was sixteen.

They both had the same red gold hair as their brother and they were pretty girls with bright blue eyes and cheerful dispositions.

Times were hard for the family following the death of Christa O'Neil from pneumonia.

But they had done well and Apple Tree Farm had become an important part of the community.

Carrick O'Neil admired the way in which Donal Flynn had bought up his children.

He was also impressed at how hard Davin O'Neil worked and how devoted he was to his father and his sisters.

The young lad had a kindly disposition.

But Carrick O'Neil was distrustful of him.

Davin Flynn was a wild card.

He was passionate and reckless.

Once upon a time Carrick O'Neil had been a boy with big dreams.

But he had settled for his lot.

Something told O'Neil that this young man was unlikely to be so accommodating.

And this secretly troubled him.

It soon became evident to everyone that Davin Flynn and Erinn O'Neil had promised themselves to each other.

Grace accompanied the couple less now as Flynn's intentions towards Erinn became clear.

And presently the young couple became inseparable.

They were inhabiting a golden world.

And daily Erinn O'Neil would wait at the top of the lane for her man to appear.

Her heart would skip a beat every time Davin Flynn appeared on his bike riding briskly towards her with a smile on his face.

piccolo3 (by stormygnu
He was like Sir Lancelot.

Her knight in shining armour.

And Erinn O'Neil would steal away to the majestic Holy Cross Church to say a little prayer of thanksgiving to the Virgin for her family and the life she had been given.

Above all she would give thanks to the mother of Jesus for Davin Flynn.

He was her world.

The handsome young farm boy who filled every room with his vibrant personality.

Silently vowing with all his youthful vigour that he would one day make the beautiful daughter of Carrick O'Neil his bride.

And Erinn O'Neil prayed daily that her happy life with Davin Flynn would never end.

But the life they led in Kenmare was a life that Davin Flynn was all too eager to depart.

The couple were standing on the beach at Kenmare Bay one afternoon.

They were both looking out to sea and Davin Flynn had a faraway look in his intense green eyes.

"Don't you ever wish you were someplace else?" He asked finally.

"No!" Erinn O'Neil replied in bewilderment "This is my home!"

"But there is a is so much more to life than this!" Davin Flynn exclaimed.

His eyes were glittering like two emeralds.

"I couldn't wish for anything more" Erinn O'Neil replied "You are my world!"

But Davin Flynn was bored with life in Kenmare.

He hated his father's farm.

And he was eager to explore life beyond his narrow horizons.

He felt suffocated.

And he couldn't breathe.

Erinn O'Neil could sense the conflict in her intended.

But she earnestly believed that everything would change once they were married and settled.

This was her dream.

To marry Davin Flynn.

And to have his babies.

Sister Cynthia opened her eyes.

The nuns were still at prayer.

And the beautiful old chapel was filled with an unearthly peace.

Suddenly she heard delighted laughter.

Her laughter.

Erinn O'Neil was dressed in a pink two-piece V-neck cardigan, simple white blouse and button-down red wrap skirt.

She was running through the woods as her thick raven hair tumbled behind her.

Her carefree laughter seemed to ring through the tall trees.

Davin Flynn was laughing too as he chased her.

They fell together into a bed of red and gold leaves.

It was a bright Autumn day and the entire wood appeared to be illuminated.

Erinn and Davin inhabited a magical world.

And everything felt brand new.

Erinn O'Neil lay in Davin Flynn's arms beneath an old oak tree.

He looked down at his lady love.

"I promise to be true to you!" He declared.

Tears filled the young girl's black eyes as she looked up at the boy she loved.

Then he leaned in close and kissed her tenderly on the mouth.

It was their first time.

Erinn O'Neil had never been kissed by a lad before.

It sealed their love.

"I want to stay like this forever!" Erinn O'Neil declared as she lay in Davin Flynn's arms beneath the old oak tree.

But he did not answer her.

Sister Cynthia looked up at the painting of the Virgin Mary.

She was holding the baby Jesus.

There was love and understanding in her large eyes.

The mother of Jesus knew.

Erinn O'Neil was kneeling before the altar in the splendid Holy Cross Church.

She was at her prayers.

Erinn often wept at her devotions.

Davin Flynn was quietly observing her from the church door.

He removed his cap respectfully.

The sight of his intended at prayer had moved him deeply.

Davin Flynn watched as Erinn O'Neil gently wiped away her tears with a handkerchief and slowly rose to her feet.

She crossed herself and when she turned round her captivating face was shining with an inner glow.

As if lit from within.

Davin Flynn suddenly felt like his heart would burst.

Rose (by flyxer15
Erinn O'Neil was no mere mortal.

She was an angel.

And the young farm boy was transfixed.

Erinn smiled warmly when she noticed Davin Flynn standing in the church doorway.

"Come inside!" She beckoned to him.

"Why were you weeping?" Davin Flynn asked her with concern.

"Because I am so happy!" Erinn O'Neil answered him.

As she stood among the flickering candles she seemed ethereal.

"You truly belong here!" Davin Flynn pronounced.

Erinn O'Neil was too good for this world.

"You are my little nun!" He added affectionately.

"I want to be your wife!" Erinn O'Neil declared passionately "I want to spend the rest of my days with you. And when this life is over I want to lie beside you in the ground!"

The young man took her hands in his and kissed them.

"I don't know what I have done to deserve you Erinn O'Neil!" Davin Flynn cried.

The couple looked deeply into each others in the quiet hush of the beautiful old church.

Sister Cynthia smiled at the remembrance.

To have Davin Flynn was to own the entire world.

In the quiet of her heart Sister Cynthia pondered on the life she might have led.

And her dreams were oftentimes filled with bitter sweet memories.

Countless candles were flickering around the older nun in the chapel.

They comforted her.

And suddenly she was transported back.

Davin Flynn observed Erinn O'Neil as she quietly prayed.

He was standing beside her during mass in the beautiful old church.

Flynn had never met such a devout soul before.

She made everything beautiful.

"You are my little nun!" Davin Flynn said fondly as he gently nudged her with his elbow.

"Young love!" Cathleen O'Neil sighed as she observed the couple.

"But will Davin Flynn be true to our Erinn?" Carrick O'Neil replied.

Something in the reckless and impetuous youth troubled him.

Cathleen O'Neil took her husband's hand and squeezed it tightly.

"Remember when we were like them?" She asked him wistfully "It only seems like yesterday! Let them find their own way Carrick!"

Her husband nodded silently.

But perhaps he had a feeling for the future.

Carrick O'Neil watched as his sweet daughter looked up at her intended with a glowing face.

The look of love.

O'Neil was already anticipating the future.

And only with great reluctance would he give her away.

It was only yesterday that his only daughter had been a toddler.

And suddenly she was a young woman who walked and talked with a grace that Carrick O'Neil had never known before.

"I'm all grown up now, father!" Erinn O'Neil declared as she walked beside her father at Kenmare Bay.

He stopped and cupped her beautiful face in his hands.

"Does Davin Flynn make you happy?" Carrick O'Neil asked his daughter earnestly.

"Aye he does!" She replied with emotion "He makes me the happiest woman alive!"

There was no more need for debate.

Carrick O'Neil embraced his daughter as the waves lapped against the shore.

Sister Cynthia sighed sadly.

Terce would soon be done. 

And Sister Cynthia would quietly resume her duties once more.

But there were so many memories. 

It was the eve of Erinn O'Neil's nineteenth birthday.

She was dressed in a green Floral Tea Dress which was nipped in at the waist.

Her thick raven hair fell in waves over her shoulders and she wore a small gold pendant that had belonged to her grandmother. 

Erinn and Davin Flynn were standing in the living room of the O'Neil's elegant townhouse. 

Flynn was wearing a fetching new tweed jacket and tweed cap. 

And it was a moment of great portent.

The handsome young man took Erinn O'Neil's small left hand in his as he knelt before her.

His bright green eyes were glittering like two emeralds.

"Erinn O'Neil!" Davin Flynn declared sincerely "Would you do me the great honour of consenting to be my wife?"

For several moments the young girl was unable to respond.

Time had stopped.

The sun had risen in her heart and everything had been illuminated by love.

"I will!" Erinn O'Neil cried as she burst into tears.

"I will! I will! I will!"

Then Davin Flynn gently placed a gold ring on the ring finger of her delicate left hand.

Cathleen O'Neil watched silently from the partially open door. 

Wiping away her tears with a hand. 

Her captivating daughter had met her Prince. 

The scent of a myriad flowers were wafting through the chapel's open window.

And Sister Cynthia paused to breathe in the exquisite aroma. 

Remembering how she put a red rose in her black hair and waved to Davin Flynn from her window as he rode away on his bike. 

Those were halcyon days.

Passing in a haze of joyous anticipation and high expectation.

Nothing seemed amiss. 

Sister Cynthia remembered the glorious engagement party in the old church hall. 

It seemed that most of Kenmare had turned out to see a son and daughter of theirs make a pledge to each other.

Carrick O'Neil wept with emotion as he watched his daughter dance with her intended in the centre of the floor as the traditional Irish band played on. 

Erinn was dressed in a white satin dress and her thick black hair was interlaced with white flowers. 

She was a vision of purity and innocence.

An angel of mercy.

And Carrick O'Neil felt a tug of pain as he watched his daughter give herself away.

The whole world seemed to be swept up on a tidal wave of love as Davin Flynn swore by all the saints that he would be true to Erinn O'Neil.

"You have made me the happiest boy in the world!" Flynn declared.

"And you have made me the happiest girl!" Erinn O'Neil replied.

Several cheers rose among the throng. 

The bond of love had been sealed. 

Sister Cynthia remained on the cold hard floor as the nuns quietly departed the chapel. 

She was immersed in her own thoughts. 

Bitter sweet memories. 

It was the eve of the wedding.

The dream was coming true.

And everything was beautiful.

Everything was brand new. 

Erinn O'Neil met her intended by the coast.

He was staring pensively into the near distance and throwing pebbles out at the sea. 

Erinn could tell that Davin Flynn was brooding.

His bright green eyes were glittering hard and his brow was furrowed. 

She smiled warmly at him.

And for a moment everything was forgotten. 

To see her smile was to forget everything.

Erinn O'Neil had the power to calm any storm.

But a stark reality was snapping at Davin Flynn's heels.

He hated life in Kenmare. 

"Don't you ever want to leave this godforsaken place?" Davin Flynn exclaimed vehemently. 

The reality of inheriting his father's farm was weighing heavily on him. 

He did not want to follow the path that had been prepared for him.

He did not want to spend the rest of his life living by the turn of the seasons, tending to livestock and tilling the soil. 

Davin Flynn no longer desired to live by the sweat of his brow.

He believed that there was a world of opportunity waiting to be discovered. 

Everyday Flynn became more and more restless.

Everyday he cursed the unchanging landscape of his life and the inevitability of it all. 

"Oh no!" Erinn O'Neil declared "I want to stay like this forever!"

"But there is a big world outside your window! Davin Flynn interjected "Don't you ever want to explore it?"

"But I am happy here!" She replied. 

Davin Flynn smiled.

Sweet and innocent Erinn O'Neil.

She was a simple Irish girl.

Content to be by his side. 

"You are too good for me!" Davin Flynn replied. 

But he was not smiling anymore. 

Sister Cynthia was distracted from her reverie.

From the open window she could hear the excited chatter of a gaggle of schoolgirls as they passed beneath.

Bells of serenity (by hearthy
Slowly the older nun rose to her feet and made her way to the window and looked out.

A group of young girls were walking through the convent gardens and talking animatedly to each other. 

They frequently broke into gales of laughter. 

For a moment Sister Cynthia recognised a little girl walking among them.

She knew her well.

She recognised the humility in her demeanour.  

There was a red rose in her long raven hair and she was walking quietly beside the others. 

Sister Cynthia was sure that the young girl looked up at her and smiled before disappearing. 

The older nun sighed sadly.

Then she slowly made her way back to where she had been kneeling. 

Sister Cynthia looked up at the large crucifix on the chapel wall above the altar. 

"By his stripes we are healed!" The older nun whispered. 

And Sister Cynthia remembered once more the journey that had bought her to the convent. 

The highly anticipated morning of the wedding had arrived. 

It was the happiest day of Erinn O'Neil's life.

And the culmination of all her hopes and dreams.

It seemed that much of Kenmare were attending the marriage of Carrick O'Neil's daughter to Davin Flynn.

Light streamed in from the ornate chancel window illuminating the majestic church.

The entire Holy Cross Church had been bedecked in flowers.

The intoxicating fragrance of countless roses, carnations and posies filled the air.

Innumerable wedding guests in all their finery were sitting in the pews. 

They were too mortified to utter a word. 

All signs of joyous celebration evaporated.

The grand old church was deathly silent save for the muffled sound of sobbing.

It was like a chapel of rest. 

There was only a palpable sense of desolation in the Holy Cross Church that momentous Spring day. 

The living had lost track of time.

It seemed as if the world was no longer spinning.

And all the clocks had stopped. 

It should have been the happiest day of Erinn O'Neil's life. 

But all signs of gaiety had fled.

The bride-to-be was standing alone at the altar. 

And there was an empty space beside her where Davin Flynn should have been standing.

Erinn O'Neil was wearing an ivory silk satin bias cut gown.

Her thick raven hair was piled high and a fine tulle veil flowed over her shoulders like a gentle waterfall.

Erinn O'Neil was the most beautiful flower in all of Kenmare.

But tears were streaming down her cheeks.

And her sweet face was a mask of despair and desolation.

She refused to be comforted.

Father Flanagan was attempting to pacify Carrick O'Neil. 

But the imposing man was inconsolable. 

His rage eventually dissolved into a flood of harsh sobs.

As the aged priest put a comforting arm around him. 

Carrick O'Neil's worst fears had been confirmed.

The writing had already been written on the wall.

His beautiful daughter had been abandoned. 

Donal Flynn sat in his pew with his head buried in his hands. 

His sons behaviour was incomprehensible to him.

And Flynn prayed that the ground would open up and swallow him alive.

Marty Shannon quietly shook his head as he struggled to comprehend what was happening around him. 

The wedding rings were still in his pocket. 

The best man had been left bewildered by the actions of Davin Flynn as he stood beside the shattered bride-to-be at the altar. 

A bride had lost a husband and a best man had lost his best friend.

Grace was weeping in the arms of her intended Patrick McLachlan.

She had witnessed the love between Erinn and Davin Flynn and could never have foreseen this tragic turn of events.

Shona and Claire Flynn were standing by the church doors in their pretty pink satin gowns. 

They were both sobbing loudly as they held each others hand.

Their childhood had abruptly ended.

The halcyon days were over.

A sudden gust of wind blew in a spray of apple blossoms.

But still the lost bridegroom did not appear. 

Outside the Holy Cross Church, Cathleen O'Neil frantically searched for Davin Flynn.  

She called out his name as she ran down the lane in her blue satin chiffon gown.

Concerned people had come out to join her.

It had begun to rain now but the mother of the bride-to-be would not be deterred from her mission. 

Someone flung their coat over Cathleen's shoulders as the group of searchers steadily grew as they scoured the surrounding area.

But there was no sign of Davin Flynn. 

And only with considerable reluctance would Cathleen O'Neil give up her hunt and concede defeat.

But she would wonder about the handsome young lad for the rest of her days. 

In all the drama,  nobody had noticed a small note fluttering in the wind beneath the windscreen wiper of the bridal car. 

A little note that had quietly been placed there.

I'm sorry Erinn.
I don't deserve you.
You are too good for me
Live your life and be happy.

Erinn O'Neil never saw Davin Flynn again.

He had already left Ireland for distant shores.

As the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months it became clear that Davin Flynn was not going to return.

The road was to be a hard one for Erinn O'Neil. 

After her abandonment the world seemed a different place. 

It always seemed to rain now.

Nobody knew what had happened to Davin Flynn. 

Not even Marty Shannon. 

Davin Flynn's treachery had torn the O'Neil household apart

Presently Donul Flynn sold Apple Tree Farm and moved to Limerick with his two daughters.

And he and his family were never mentioned in the O'Neil house again. 

Erinn O'Neil valiantly chose not to wait for Davin Flynn.

And this sent ripples of alarm throughout the community of Kenmare.

But the young woman had chosen to answer a higher calling.

Erinn was aware that people were lamenting her fate and the wrong done to her by Davin Flynn.

People stared at her as they passed her in the street. 

Their eyes followed her where ever she went.

Erinn O'Neil had become an example to all young girls of what might happen to them if they became involved with a "wrong 'un".

The young woman's good name had been tarnished by Davin Flynn's betrayal.

Now when local guests stayed at The Ring of Kerry guesthouse they addressed her with regret. 

And their boys no longer asked for her. 

In the months after her abandonment by Davin Flynn,  Erinn O'Neil  had sought solace in her faith.

She had spent more and more time at her devotions and in contemplation. 

The beautiful Holy Cross Church had become her refuge.

Kilkenny (by Yassser84
And now Erinn O'Neil had chosen to quietly pull the veil across the world outside.

The chapel was empty now.

Sister Cynthia was alone once more.

The sound of the youthful passersby had faded into the distance. 

A few of the candles had burnt out. 

And bitter sweet memories were flooding back.

Now Erinn O'Neil was standing purposefully on the railway platform with her suitcase.

She felt as if she had already lived an entire lifetime. 

She was twenty years old. 

No longer a child.

Suffering had made her wise.

Erinn was dressed in a dark blue woollen coat and her thick raven hair was hidden beneath a little cap. 

She looked small and wan against the animated commuters and their loved ones. 

It would be the last time that she would be remembered as Erinn O'Neil.  

The small family gazed at one another for the longest time.

Too overcome to think or speak. 

The most beautiful flower in all of Kenmare had finally blossomed.

But her beauty would forever be hidden from the rude stare of the world now.

Erinn O'Neil had been transformed by her experiences. 

And she would never be the same again. 

"God go with you!" Cathleen O'Neil cried as she embraced her daughter.

The child she believed she would never have. 

The little girl who had rarely left her side.

And was all grown up now.

And leaving her forever. 

Tears were streaming down Carrick O'Neil's cheeks as he tenderly kissed his daughter on the forehead. 

Twenty years before he had vowed to dedicate his child to God.

And now God had come to claim one of His own. 

As if it was always meant to be. 

Carrick O'Neil had one consolation.

No man would ever be able to hurt his daughter again. 

"Goodbye mommy" Erinn O'Neil said in her small sweet voice "goodbye daddy"

She would never address her parents this way again.

There was nothing left to say.

And there was no time left. 

Carrick and Cathleen O'Neil thought their hearts would break as they watched their only daughter walk towards the train bound for Kilkenny.

Just before she boarded it,  Erinn O'Neil turned to her parents one last time.

Then she smiled.

Before disappearing into the train. 

Carrick O'Neil would remember this moment for the rest of his life. 

He would forever be haunted by the image of his beautiful daughter in those last moments as she once was. 

Erinn O'Neil was to be reborn again.

As Sister Cynthia.

And it was as a nun of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent that her parents would address her. 

Her life had passed as a whisper.

She had found lasting peace in the sanctuary of the convent. 

She would never have the experience of lying with a man.

And she would never know how it felt to hold her own child in her arms. 

But in giving up the ways of the world Sister Cynthia had found a rich inner world in the shelter of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Convent.

And a life of serenity.

But she would wonder about Davin Flynn for the rest of her days. 

Sister Cynthia remained in the quiet of the chapel a little longer. 

She said a little prayer of thanksgiving for the happy life she had led at the convent and she prayed for the souls of her parents. 

Then she crossed herself and slowly rose from the cold hard floor.

A small blackbird had started singing outside the window.

Sister Cynthia smiled.

But there were tears in her eyes. 

Old Convent Window (by dyannac


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