Mary Bradford, a mother and an expert in hugging, is a published writer of short stories in magazines, newspapers and anthologies both in Ireland and internationally, mainly in the United States. Her novel 'My Husband's Sin', contemporary fiction, is with Tirgearr Publishing. She writes historical westerns and adult romance also. Mary too, writes plays and has seen her work both short-listed and performed.
Monday, 24 April 2017
I am a person that likes to give books as presents at birthdays and Christmas. This all
began when I was not long out of my toddler years. I just fell in love with reading at an early
age. I joined my local library when 5 years old.
I loved Saturdays, it was library day. My brown ticket was my passport to so many
worlds. I would be allowed two books for two weeks, but I never lasted two
weeks. I would be in to Ms. O’Donnell, the librarian, each Saturday morning.
It wasn’t big, about the
size of a large sitting-room, maybe a little bigger but not much bigger, say
about twelve feet by sixteen feet. In the centre of the room was a tall dividing
set of bookshelves, as in shelves on both sides. This is what decided which
section you were allowed into.
An anthology launch
The children’s section
was to the right and the adult section to the left of this dividing structure as
you walked in. Immediately inside on the right of the door was a large counter
where you checked your books in and out. Behind this high counter which was
much taller than any child, sat our only librarian. She was a low sized woman
with glasses and a deep voice. She ran her library with a firm hand. No-one
dared whisper in her presence. If you coughed or
sneezed and couldn’t stop, it would not be unusual for her to ask you to leave, although you may be the
only one in the room! Ah those were the days, simple and carefree.
Nancy Drew Mysteries,
anything by Enid Blyton and of course the classics, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain
and the Bronte sisters. Worlds were opened up to me, my imagination was set as
high as I allowed it and that was limitless. The choice of books to read was
not extensive as you can imagine, not being a big library. So I went around
those shelves in deep thought looking for the one book I had not yet read. There were a few of us that frequented the premises so
much, it was almost a competition to see who would discover a valuable gem, a book from new stock which sneaked its way in during the week while we were at school. So
having had every book in the children’s section read and re-read, the day came
when I was allowed to move on.
Excitement and butterflies danced in my stomach
when that Saturday arrived and I told Ms. O’Donnell that I was now thirteen. Once
I became a teenager, I was allowed in to the adult section, just six rows of
it, mind you. Still I felt grown up, especially as my library ticket was now
upgraded to a green one. Of course, once I read the six rows of books, I was
back over in the children’s section looking for new stock. Oh the joys and
innocence of growing up then for me.
Launch night of, A Baker's Dozen, 2012 in present day library.
My love for books never
died. I still enjoy reading and still encourage anyone who will listen to me,
to join their local library. It is a treasure trove for children and adults
alike. The old library is now deserted, having outgrown its small room. It is now housed in what was before the protestant church. What a
beautiful setting to read and write in. There are the arched windows, two
flooring levels and beamed ceilings.
Long since changed from when it was just a room divided in half, supervised by
a lady who sat at the counter. A lady who presided like a judge as us children
and I’m sure some adults were so nervous we dare blink in her presence. Her job
of maintaining silence well executed. Yet we were all very fond of her and she us. She's long gone to her eternal reward.
I still use the library,
I try to go most mornings where I like to write my books. I've made many friends
while writing there. A place so different from that one room long ago, now, computers sit along one
wall, stands and stands of books, a colouring corner for the children, a
section to go read the daily newspapers, and even a lift!
I've celebrated receiving my contract from Tirgearr Publishing for my debut novel, My Husband's Sin and I launched my collection of short stories, A Baker's Dozen, both in our local library. Also the launches of two anthologies, that I was involved in, took place there, evenings shared with many friends and family. When I sit at a table
there and write my thoughts, I often think of Ms. O’Donnell and wonder what she
would make of it all.