[caption id="attachment_72145" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="Author Patricia Falvey, Belfast business consultant Denny Elliott and Tracey Marshall of the Ulster Orchestra pictured outside the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel."][/caption]
Addressing the opening preview to the New York-New Belfast conference at the American Irish Historical Society's Fifth Avenue premises on Tuesday of last week, Texas author Patricia Falvey recounted her heartrending experience of emigration. "I am part of that long procession that has left our mother country sorrowful at our departure," she said.
"But the memories of home are always there, lying quietly until aroused by a smell, a snatch of music, a stray word, a drop of rain, or the sound of a soft brogue lilting in a crowd."
Patricia Falvey's first jarring emigrant experience came at the age of eight when "overnight" she was taken by her mother from her grandmother's Newry home and separated from her sister to live in England.
She set out for America at the age of 20.
"This time my emigration was voluntary, but my first was not. I was in England for 12 years but I never felt that I belonged. It was
not home. And so when I emigrated to America I was still searching for home. At that time I did not feel that Ireland held a home for me. My grandmother had died, my sister and I were estranged. And so I continued the search, maybe America would prove to be the answer."
Almost 20 years later, with Ireland pulling at her heartstrings, Falvey made her first journey back 'home.'
"I will never forget flying into Dublin on Aer Lingus and the pilot saying, 'for those of you who are returning to Ireland after years away, welcome home.' Even now tears spring to my eyes as I remember that moment. It was then I realized that Ireland was indeed the home I had been searching for all these years."
The Dallas-based author and retired accountant says her novels "The Yellow House" and "The Linen Queen" have helped her reclaim her memories and love of Ireland.
"My books, set in Northern Ireland, have been described as love letters to Ireland and that is exactly what they are.
"I want my readers to learn the sad history of my home and understand why it has taken so long to heal its troubles. I want them to feel the same passion that I feel for that beautiful place. And I want them to travel there and appreciate the majesty of its landscape and the warmth of its people."
The last volume in Falvey's trilogy, "Easter Lilies," will be published in 2013.
"I am delighted now to see Ireland, though the 2013 Gathering, reaching out to its diaspora, its far-flung children, and inviting the 'scattered' to gather again in their ancestral homeland. I hope going there will bring the same sense of wholeness to them as it brought to me."