The Connollys - Connolly's Pass and The Connolly Connection together
Jessie Woodger

Cover of The Connolly Connection ISBN 1-873855-35-4

We follow Rosie Connolly and her family in County Cavan through bad times and good

RRP: 7.95

Availability: September 2005

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Front cover illustration: by Emma Woodger

Paperback - 198 pages
John Owen Smith; ISBN: 1-873855-46-X; September 2005

Associated title: Jessica's People

Back Cover . Excerpt . About the Author . About the Publisher . Further information

Back Cover

When, as a young girl in County Cavan, the author wanted to have an excuse to give to her mother when she came home from her ramblings, she would tell her, "I've just been over to Connolly's."

The Connollys didn't exist – they were an invention of young Jessica's fertile imagination. So, when she came to write her first novels, what better than to make them come to life?

In Connolly's Pass, we begin to follow the story of Rosie Connolly. After the tragic death of her husband, she sets about raising her six children in a small Irish village, with her pride in their achievements overshadowed only by the involvement of one of them in the Provisional IRA.

In The Connolly Connection, we renew our acquaintance with Rosie Connolly and her family, following them on through bad times and good.
These heart-warming stories are told with great charm, and vividly capture the conventions and beliefs of a closely-knit rural community.


The sun shone mistily through the green blinds on the kitchen window, as Gareth Nesbitt retrieved his boiled egg from the cooker. At last I am going to do something positive, he thought.

Six months ago, he had been almost suicidal. Patrick had been behaving abominably. He had arrived home after being out nearly all night and brought two young men with him, all three high on drink or drugs. They made breakfast for themselves, throwing food around the kitchen and breaking dishes, and then went out again leaving the mess behind.

Gareth was trying to clean it up when Margaret arrived; he had never seen her lose her temper before.

When the kitchen was back to normal she made coffee and said, "Gareth, when is it going to stop?you are letting Patrick get the upper hand. Soon he will be taking the pictures off of the wall and selling them to buy drugs for his friends, and they will all be living herebut I'm afraid I won't be coming in, much as I love this place. I could never clean up behind those dirty louts."

"What can I do?"

"You go and see Mr Langham, he is your closest friend, isn't he?or you could go to church."

"Church? I haven't been to church for years."

"Well perhaps it's time you did."

Gareth looked at her intently for a couple of seconds. "Do you go to church Margaret?" he asked.

"Yes, I've been this morning."

"Do you find it helps?"

"Yes. At times I wonder if I'm doing the right thing, but it nearly always makes sense in the end."

The following Sunday, Gareth followed the congregation into the Roman Catholic Church. He felt strangely at peace as the service continued and when he shook hands with the young priest afterwards.

Since then he had attended every Sunday and had become friendly with the priest, Father Finley by name, "But call me Tom," he told him with a smile.

They had sat down to supper in the priest's rather bare rooms, bread and cheese and pickle, washed down with a bottle of beer divided into two glasses. Afterwards they talked and the priest drew him out until the whole story was told — to Gareth's amazement Tom wasn't shocked.

The priest sat quietly for a few seconds.

"There is an Abbey near Oaks in Kent," he said. "It's a retreat really, you would get counselling. I could arrange it for you, it's a very peaceful place. I stayed there after college — I was a little unsure that I had the right attitude. I stayed for a month and came away with a clear head."

Gareth looked doubtful. "What would I do with Patrick? He would wreck the place if he was left on his own."
"Perhaps your solicitor would move in for a week or two — you have a good housekeeper, she might look after them both. Patrick couldn't do much with them watching him."

David Langham agreed rather reluctantly. He didn't like Patrick very much, but for his friend he was willing to make the sacrifice.

So it came to pass that Gareth moved into the quiet Abbey and grew to love the peacefulness. He read the books that he was given — he knew he wouldn't join the order, but he could spend the rest of his life here if he wanted to, and he decided he would do just that — and he couldn't wait to tell David his plans. They were close friends and had known each other since they were teenagers.

David listened gravely, and waited for him to finish.

"But why, Gareth? You are still young, why stay in the Abbey? I didn't know you had religious feelings. Can't you attend church and help them? There is so much you could do and still maintain your lifestyle."

Gareth shook his head — "I can't go on living in my present lifestyle," he said. "I've been blind to my sins, my faults if you like. I would like you to help me dispose of certain things. I want Kathleen Connolly to have this apartment — she will take care of it and she is a worker, it will be nice for her at the end of her busy day."

"What about Patrick?"

"Oh Patsy! I think I will give him Kathleen's little flat. He won't like it, but he doesn't much care about things. I have arranged an allowance for him. I'm afraid I have spoiled him — 'anything for a quiet life,' has been my motto. I have also arranged an allowance for Rosie Connolly — she's retired now and could do with a bit extra."

About the Author

Jessie Woodger (neé McMahon) was born in 1923 close to where Co. Cavan meets Fermanagh - an area which is now border country between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

She settled in England after the Second World War, and lived in Headley, Hampshire.

Jessie died in April 2010.

About the Publisher

John Owen Smith was born in 1942 and trained as a Chemical Engineer at London University, but spent most of his working life designing commercial Information Systems for the paper-making industry. Following redundancy, he 'fell' into researching and recording the local history of east Hampshire, where he now lives. His own output of historical community plays, lectures, articles and books includes:-

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