Irish Catholic Novel Celebrates Old Days


American culture has become increasingly fast-paced with each
passing year, and the crisis of materialism continues to cause problems
and divisions in the Catholic world and society at-large. It wasn’t
always so. To try and capture a better time—a simpler and
less-complicated time—was the goal of this writer in producing a novel
about Irish Catholic life in late 1940s Boston.

Back in 1996, I was on the eighth tee of a golf course in
southeastern Wisconsin one dreary Sunday morning. I was at one of those
crossroads point in life, and wondering what the next step would be. At
age 26, I felt washed up. A thought came to me, as if from nowhere—Why
not write a novel? I had a talent for writing that went undeveloped, as
I drowned in the seven deadly sins. Before I reached the green, I had
settled on Boston as the venue and to use 1949 as the benchmark year.
It was that year that one of the last great Irish Catholic politicians
of his age, James Michael Curley, ran his last campaign for mayor and
it was that year the Red Sox and Yankees fought one of the great
pennant races in American League history. My goal was to set an Irish
Catholic family in the midst of this backdrop and to tell the story of
that better time.

It was a better time in the world of politics. Irish Catholics
belonged heavily to the Democratic Party, and the candidates they
produced were the kind I identified with. The believed in the
affirmative power of government to lift people up, but without denying
personal responsibility. They believed in private business, but without
succumbing to a Protestantized rugged individualism. They believed in a
strong military abroad and tough police force at home. Most of all,
they answered to the Catholic Church, not to Planned Parenthood on
fundamental questions of right and wrong. Those of us that believe
these same things today have powerful cultural currents pushing on us
from both ends. There were problems to be sure—the seeds of the
left-wing disaster that would eventually hijack the Democratic Party
were in place and pushing forward—but it was fundamentally a good time
to be Irish Catholic in politics.

It was a better time in the Catholic Church. Strong devotion to
Our Lady, a deeply reverent Mass, majestic architecture, fidelity
from the clergy and an embracement of life by the faithful were the
norm. Large families were a staple of the Irish Catholic world and the
parish priest was a respected figure, even by those who didn’t
necessarily live out the Faith in their own life. Those of us that
believe these same things today are often stuck between the problems of
dissent on one hand, and another hand that often sees the world of
Catholic orthodoxy imprisoned in the same materialist mindset. There
were problems in the old days to
be sure—stories of a lack of compassion in the confessional are
all-too-frequent to be exclusively the product of left-wing
imaginations. But it was
fundamentally a good time to be Irish Catholic in the bosom of Holy
Mother Church.

It was a simpler time in general, and people weren’t caught up
in the rat race of perpetually trying to get ahead. There was time to
stop and enjoy a good ballgame—something the characters in this book do
in spades, as they cheer on their beloved Red Sox and get out to Fenway
Park as often as possible. Especially when the hated Yankees come to
town. Ultimately, it is this culture of simple joys that politics is
designed to protect and advance and the Catholic Church is entrusted
with lifting up to salvation. To capture it all and put it on paper is
why I wrote this book.

It’s been through a long process to get this
far. It wasn’t until 2000 that the rough draft was finished, and one
year later it appeared in print under the title “The Scholar.”
Eventually, I re-wrote it and printed it up again in 2003. It achieved
modest local circulation that go-round, and when the copies ran out, it
was time to let a print-on-demand publisher, who could make it available
online. take control of the work. And so it reappears again. I hope you
enjoy it. A little blurb about the characters and a link to order
is below.


The fictitious neighborhood of
Shamrock in 1940's Boston
is the setting for this drama of the Irish-American experience. Fulcrum sees a
group of teenagers observe their community on the threshold of social
change—and grapple for a response that will be true to their roots and their

Siblings Sean and Bridget Cavanaugh
are in love with their traditional neighborhood and concerned for what the
heated mayoral election may portend for the future. Their younger twins, Patty
and Mike, are not as content. Patty’s frustration with the lack of
opportunities for women lead her elsewhere on a search—and to an inevitable
clash with Bridget. Mike must confront a problem with the bottle, lest he face
a bigger battle with his mother.

The Cavanaughs are joined by Danny
McMurtry, a tough and devout football player at Boston College,
and by Sean’s best friend Joe Donnally. The latter needs the guidance of his
parish priest and a tough football coach to set him on the right path.

Fulcrum knits together all the
elements of what is good and uplifting about Irish Catholic life—Shamrock’s
love for the Red Sox, it’s passion for old-style city politics and it’s respect
for the Catholic faith are sure to inspire readers of every age.


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