A Week at a Country House, 1899
as the Guest of
Edith Somerville and Violet Martin
The Irish Quarter Year Two
A Celebration of the Irish Short Story
March 11 to July 1
Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week Year Two. Everything you need to participate is on the resources page, including links to 1000s of short stories, from brand new ones to stories now in the public domain. Guests posts are also welcome. If you have any suggestions or questions please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.
"Trinket's Colt" (1899, 22 pages)
"The Waters of Strife" (1899, 25 pages)
There are thirteen interrelated stories in Some Experiences of an Irish R. M. by Edith Somerville and Violet Martin, aka Ross Martin. The stories are about people living in country houses in Ireland at the end of the 19th century. There world revolves around hunting, hounds and horses. The people in these stories represent a way of life soon to all but fade away. I think the stories have a lot of nostalgia for a simpler day appeal as they have been the basis of successful UK tv series and movies. I do not know if they are still much read but in 1963 in The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story Frank O'Connor indicated they were very popular. He says there stories represent the past of the Irish Short story as a form, George Moore the future. I think you can read these stories just for fun or dig much deeper and be rewarded. The authors very much lived in the world they wrote about so I do not see these stories as possessed of a set back irony as they might have in the hands of other writers.
"Trinket's Colt" is story taken up with horses. I think the love of horses at this time was a way of hanging on to a rapidly fading way of life. This very clever and entertaining story shows how important a prowess at horse trading was at your neighbors view of your general wit. I loved the 82 year old woman in the story who got the better of people who thought that her age meant she was no longer sharp.
"The Waters of Strife" takes us for the first time in to the court room work of the Registered Magistrate, some of the crimes he deals with are just small things but he also handles murders so it is a serious job. this story centers on a regatta held by the "Sons of Liberty". As I read this stories I am trying to get a feel for what the authors intended to take away from these stories. Are they meant as a celebration of a way of life, did the authors see anything wrong with Irish society, or are they just meant to entertain us? The story centers around trouble that came from the boat race. I admit I was a little shocked to see that a murder was at the center of the story. Like the others if you are not too critical this an enjoyable work and it was fun to sit in with the R. M. as he did his job the best he could.