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I can see the back of Galway's Forthill cemetery from my balcony. In the spring, the hill turns yellow with gorse, then valerian-pink in summer. In winter, the thickets lose their green lushness and high crosses and headstones appear. Last night, asked if I have visited it, I answered once: what struck me was one particular plot, well-tended and painted an unusual cornflower blue, with seashells placed all over it. Apparently the grave belongs to a woman who became a single mother in the days when Irish society was wicked toward single mothers; facing ostracism, she had kept her child. Now her gravesite is ministered by her faithful elderly son, a bright, haunting testament to their story among the blooming and dying flowers.


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