LIKE millions of fellow Irishmen and women James Joyce spent most of his life abroad, and like all the others he thought endlessly of home.
Like Joyce, I and many others have spent years dreaming of the emigrant’s return.
I contemplated repatriation but kept my thoughts to myself and never once brought up the subject with my wife Kim.
Among the vast Irish community in Britain and indeed the whole world, there are many tales of woe concerning the cherished dream of repatriation to the ‘Ould Sod’, which is an affectionate term used by us for our native land.
There are many, many successful moves back home where you hear of friends enjoying the promised ride on the pig’s back – an old term for a life henceforward with not a care in the world.
A mythical and even naïve outlook I agree, but that’s part of who we are and I can’t see it ever changing.
I have been in Britain now for almost 50 years and like most others from Ireland our arrival here was a serious matter of survival.
As the eldest child I did my duty to my family, one less mouth to feed etc.
Things are much better now, of course, and here in London I will remain.
But like a greyhound standing in the slips I pace eagerly for the date of departure on my regular trips home every year to my family.
Someone once said or wrote that ‘most of life’s errors are made by indecision rather than wrong decision’ – I thought long and hard about the upside and failure of repatriation and toyed with the idea of putting pen to paper to present a novel of the successes and disasters of the Irish dream.
Bravado City is the result, and the protagonist Michael Foley longs to be among his own once more and is on an exploratory mission to that end.
He has no financial problems since he inherited his late wife’s employment chain business.
His son and daughter reside in the USA and he is going spare with a crushing loneliness back in his large empty house in Gerrards Cross, west London.
So on a three-week visit to Dublin unannounced to family and friends, he makes his enquiries about the practicalities of such a move.
The story takes place over one week when he finally decides to contact his brother and sisters and tell them of his plans.
He has everything going for him in the fulfilment of making his dream come true, so why all the procrastination?
Fair enough he is 68 years old and one must understand his caution.
Bravado City is my debut novel.
At two years short of 70 years of age I am a late starter, but I still have hopes and aspirations and this novel has helped me confront them and make them my friends.
Gerry Leech’s Bravado City is a work of fiction set in Dublin but could well be thought of as a personal reminiscence – a fictionalised memoir of sorts.
“Have a go,” the author says. “And if you do, don’t be shy of voicing your honest opinion in a review of my effort on a subject close to my heart.”