The Irish Quarter
A Celebration of the Irish Short Story
March 11 to ?
"The Ring" by Byron MacMahon (1909 to 1998, county Kerry) was a novelist, playwright and short story writer. One of his sons was a judge of the Irish High Court.
"The Ring" (I read it in The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories selected by William Trevor) packs nearly a full family history in just a very few pages. You can feel the emotionally constrained emotion atmosphere of the family in the story which belies great depths of feeling.
The story is set on a farm in Tipperary. In this first person story we can reconstruct a lot of hidden history from what the narrator tells us about his grandmother, a very formidable woman.
As the story opens it is time for the hay to be harvested. This is a very crucial time on the farm as it brings in a lot of the badly needed cash income.
While she is working on the hay, the grandmother's wedding ring falls in the haystack and seems lost. I really appreciated the logic behind her not allowing anyone to help her look for it as she feels only she can do a proper job of looking for it.
When the emotional break through in this story does come it is all the more powerful as the family is so constrained in the emotions and in the way they show their feelings for each other. This is a good story and I cannot imagine anyone not being glad they read it.