I am pleased by the response to my aunt's book about the role of women in the struggle.
Lily Fitzsimons was a working class woman with an average education. Like most women of her generation, she left school at a very young age. Due to her commitments as a wife and mother of five children, she never got the chance to return to school in later in life. Life was her university. And what a learning experience it was too.
Lily joined an over 50’s club for women at Conway Mill where she did a class in creative writing. It sparked her desire to write a book about her involvement in the struggle. After an eventful life that took her from the war torn streets of Turf Lodge into the marble citadel of unionist rule in Belfast City Hall, she wanted to tell her story in her own words. Lily did not like to be misrepresented by professional writers or academics who never walked in her shoes, so to speak.
Liberty is Strength was a massive achievement for Lily Fitzsimons. She was proud of it. Her son told how she spent months on the computer sweating over every word and paragraph. At times, she became frustrated by the creative process and even doubted her ability to complete the task. Writing the book was a struggle in itself, but she persevered, just as she did in life.
The end result is 100 plus pages of experiences, thoughts, reminisces and photographs stretching back over 30 years. Lily writes as a proud republican woman, as someone who took a side. She does not dress it up or down. What you see is what you get. For this reason, Liberty Is Strength has an honest ring to it. It has integrity.
Finally, the book was not published by any of the big publishers. It has the raw and unadorned appearance of a self-publication on the cheap (she paid for out of her own pocket) Also, the pages contain many undetected typos both in spelling and grammar; all part of an authentic creative process.
Enjoy the read.
My aunt Lily died just over a year ago. At some point along the way, she stopped selling her book. She was an unassuming lady. A few hundred copies remain upstairs in the bedroom, and it is these copies that I am promoting now. They are still in the wrapper.