EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MARTHA LONG

9 Sep

Q. Who are your heroes?

A.   My friend Brigid.  She left behind the wild beauty of the west of Ireland with it’s desolate land and the roar of the Atlantic ocean. Its fields lay scattered with the ruins of old stone cottages, now long abandoned since the famine. The curse of Connaught never lifted.  Few could eke out a living from that land.

With the wind at her back, Brigid, at seventeen, a simple country girl from Mayo, made the long exhausting journey to Dublin.  Leaving the poverty of that city behind, she took the night mail boat across the Irish sea.  The ship heaved and bucked, stuffed to the gills with immigrants from every part of the country.  All hoping to make a better life for themselves, and the little ones still left at home with a mother trying to survive on a ‘Wing And A Prayer’.  

Brigid arrived into an England fighting for it’s life.  It was almost on it’s knees. London was a blackout city.  It’s nights were disturbed by the roar of the sirens giving the warning, ‘the bombers are coming’.  Night after night, the city was rendered to the ground. The night was lit up with the raging inferno, outlining the blackened faces of the people below, scrambling through the smoke and the rubble, trying to dig out the bodies of the living, the dead, and the maimed.  

Side by side, Brigid worked with these shattered people who had lost everything.  But they would not be defeated!  And yes!  They did rebuild their England.

Brigid married and had six children.  They had a comfortable little council house and worked hard to raise their family.

 The crowing glory came for Brigid after a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice. When she sat in the great Hallowed Halls’ of Oxford, surrounded by her well educated, close and loving family.  She watched with pride, as her grandson stepped up to receive his first class honours degree, with distinction.  

Brigid still lives in her little comfortable house. She lives alone, all her family are spread out across the continent. They leave her only enough time to get her breath back.  Then she is off again. They take it in turns to mind and cosset her. She wants for nothing. 

She is now a little old lady well into her eighties.  She only has a few teeth left, but you will see her grind them with a flint in her eye.  As she beats back that crippling pain, trying to twist and gnarl her poor tired old bones. 

 When you knock at her door, she will invite you in.  It does not matter to her whether you are ‘The Prince of Wales’ or a pauper.  You are all the same to her.

She will welcome you like you were a king or a queen.

Yes!  Brigid is my hero!  There are many like her. Ordinary people, who have done extraordinary things.  The quietly forgotten, unsung heroes. Who made this world a better place for us.  We need that fighting spirit back, as we once again, face into hard times.  We forget, history keeps repeating itself!

 Q. What song would you like played at your funeral?

 A.   ‘Non je ne regrette rien’ sung by Edith Piaf, singing her heart out!

 Q. What record sends a shiver down your spine?

 A.    Music from ‘The Mission’ by Ennio Marconi.

Q. What is your favourite place in Ireland?

 A.  The great blasket island. The best holiday I ever had.  Just me, the black faced sheep, and the incredibly bright stars twinkling out of the deep dark night.  With only the lonely sound of the seagulls, and the thundering waves crashing against the rocks, trying to demolish the little island cliffs, as it once demolished the great Spanish Armada, when it limped in, mistakenly trusting the ferocious power of the blasket sound as a place of refuge.  It all happened, just feet away from the island.

Q. What is your most treasured possession?

A.  A little black and white faded photograph. I still stare at it in awe, not able to get over the idea, ‘It really is me’!  Yes, it is immortalising me as a very young child.  I waited over half a century to find a reminder, that once! I really did exist  as a little child.  Without really knowing, I must have always thought of myself as a little old woman.  

Someone who once knew me, got it from someone who once cared about my mother.  They then carried that photograph half way around the world and back.  After so many years, so long ago, It found its way back to me, all the way from Canada.

Come to think about it!  I only started writing the books after I got  that photograph. It must have triggered the ‘Little Martha’ I once was, back to life.

Q. What makes you angry?

A.   Being dictated to.  Arrogance.  Vulnerable people being bullied.

Q. What book influenced you most?

A.  George Orwell.  ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ written in the ‘forties.

He was right.  It tells me, nothing happens overnight. 

Our ruling powers that be, plan well into the future.

‘Big Brother’ was no figment of his imagination.

 He was an old Etonian working in the foreign office.

Q. It’s a special meal – what’s on the menu?

A.  Bottle of Chablis.

Soup, Fish chowder.

Lemon Sole, Duchesse potato, Asparagus.  

Sticky toffee pudding, home made ice cream. 

Glass of iced, Caramel Baileys cream.

Q. If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

A.  Wear a chastity belt when I was eighteen. I’d have less grey hair, more teeth.  I could probably now be doing TV ads for..  ‘Which is the mother, and who is the daughter’?  Use ‘Pongs Cold Cream’ and look like Martha Long.  She is actually in her?…  Eh!  Never mind!  I stopped counting after fifty.

Q. What gives your life meaning?

A.  My children, my work.  Waking up to a magnificent sunny morning. 

A smile from a stranger when I need it most. Taking time to look around me.

I love old people, with their years of experience, their wisdom. They have time to talk to you, their company is so easy.

Little kids, they’re so innocent, their honesty can give you a belly laugh.

Q. Can you tell me a joke?

A.  Certainly! 

Two Dubliners taking their baby for an airing up to the phoenix Park. 

( Her)   ‘Mind te babby for a minute, Mockey,

             I want te fly inta this shop an get a few cigarettes’, she says.

(Him)   ‘Yeah, righ, but hurry! I don’t want te be left standin wit him!!

             when he starts roarin’!  He says. 

            Big crowd around the pram when she hurries out. 

            Mockey in the middle, shouting PO LECE!  GET TE POLICE!!

(Her)    ‘HERE!  Wats goin on’?  She roars. 

(Him)    Jaysus! Nelly, tha’s not our babby!  He shouts!

(Her)    Wat?  She roars, looking around in confusion!  Then it hits her.

            Shrrup’ she whispers, hitting him with her elbow. 

            Don’t be lettin everyone know! Yer only drawin attention on ta us!

(Him)   But te babby, Nelly!…. 

(Her)   Ahhh!  Will ye stop!  Will ye never mind the babby!  She snorts.

(Then she whispers)    Sure looka, Mockey!  Can’t ye see it’s a better pram!!

Q. Can you recommend an interesting website?

A.  Yeah!  www.marthalong.wordpress.com

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

A.     You can’t be hanged for what you don’t say.

Q. When did you last cry?

A.   Recently. When I tried to reach out to someone very dear to me.  Their heart was colder then the grave.  It frightened me, because I don’t understand. Humans can have a very dark side.

Q. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

A.  Faded blue grey eyes that still hint a sparkle of mischief, staring out from a face that looks lived in, my character is written in this face. The eyes hold hidden depths, that could only come with the ravages of a life time, that has seen much. 

I like what I see, a face that speaks volumes.  It’s gentle lines and wrinkles carved over time and mellowed into a maturity, that has served a life time.  It is me.

Q. What is your favourite film and why?

A.  ‘Midnight Cowboy’.  Blonde, good looking country fella wearing his best cowboy outfit, hits the bright lights of New York, looking for sex starved women, and the streets paved with gold.

He steps off the greyhound bus, only to be robbed by Enrico. A desperate, down and out, failed con man. 

So, two lonely people, pool their resources.  Enrico with his street sense, tries to make the young fella into a successful ‘Gigolo’.  He’s too stupid!  They starve.

Enrico drags his bad leg behind him, coughing and sweating.  He is dying, as they crawl through hail rain and snow, trying to find some way, the dense young fella can make a few bob so they can eat.

Their dependence on each other grows.  They need each other desperately.  Neither has a family, home, or friends.  Even their dreams are gone, it is now raw survival. 

The music is haunting, a simple harmonica playing, while a voice keens in song their inner most feelings.  ‘I’m goin where the sun keeps shining, through the pouring rain’….  They’re freezing with the cold.  Enrico thinks Palm Springs will cure his TB.  The young fella is desperate to get him there.  Enrico is now his family. The family he never had.  He will kill if need be, to get him there….

Q. What is your passion?

A.  Playing level one chess on me lap top. I’m passionate about not letting that little piece of metal beat me.  That’s why I won’t go up to level two!

Trying to knock some sense into me two teenage kids!  They think I’m a walking talking, nagging machine!  Not human like them! 

Q. What do you have hanging on your walls at home that you like looking at most?

A.  A huge black and white engraving.  Two nineteen century French priests, sinking their teeth into a lovely Sunday lunch with the full works. Then sit back with their full bellies, telling each other dirty jokes.  Probably something they heard in the confessional.

Q. What was your most formative experience?

A.  Being asked for advice by my mother as a five years old.  I needed to think how we could get ourselves off the streets.  We were homeless.  I learned fast, adults don’t have all the answers, depend on yourself.  Use your own resources.

Q. What do you believe in?

A.  We are not alone.  There is a higher power, it has given us the gift of goodness and love.

We are here for a purpose. We have something to give, unique only to us. We do make a difference, even in small ways. 

We are very precious to have been given life.

Q. What trait do others criticise you for?

A.  You mean very brave people?  Hmmp!  Well!  I talk too bloody much! I won’t shut up, I’m trying to exercise me democratic rights! 

How much time do you have?… my faults are long! If I was a metal bucket, I would leak like mad.

Q. What is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen or heard?

A.  I’m sick warnin ye,  NOT TE BE RUNNIN ACROSS THA ROAD!

So don’t come runnin te complain TE ME!!  if ye get yerself kilt stone dead!!

Q. What is your favourite word one-liner or retort?

A.  I’m not waving, I’m drowning!

Come up and see me sometime, when I’ve nothing on, but the radio!

Q. What would your motto be?

A.  My word is my bond.

Q. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A.  An actress.  Then again, some people say I never stop acting!

Q. What are the best and worst things about where you live?

A.  Oh Gawd!  Think!  Yeah!  the neighbours!  (You wouldn’t believe the things they get up te!)  Wait ‘till ye hear this…?!  No, better not say that.

The view!  Yeah!  The view!!  ‘Jaysus, it’s to die for’!  I heard someone say. 

I wouldn’t really know, I usually have me head buried in the kids business, or I’m banging away on this thing.  Like now!  Answering all these questions!

Q. Which Irish work would you recommend most highly?

A.  Sean O’Casey, ‘I knock On The Door’.

All his books and plays, really. 

And…. Eh?… cough!  My own!  Yeah, that too.

‘Ma He Sold Me For A Few Cigarettes’

…and…eh me next one… drone.. Hang on!  Wait!… it’s comin te me!

Me latest book.

‘Ma, I’ve Got Meself Locked Up In The Mad House’.

 

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33 Responses to “EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MARTHA LONG”

  1. Debbie September 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    Hi Martha I’m half way through locked up in madhouse. I’m really enjoying it. You are so brave but funny to. Will this be your last one. I don’t want to finish it.

    Thanks

    Debbie

  2. Joan Ashby September 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    HI Martha..Read all 5 books now… I am lost ..what am I going to read now, everything else seems so shallow… enjoyed every word you can’t stop writing, I want to know everything right up to the time we met in Jersey..You are such a unique person, I feel really privileged to have met you…CONGRATULATIONS… ‘in the madhouse…had to go to no 1 it’s brilliant…was Brigid the friend you went to see in London… I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall.. I bet you had some beautiful conversations..I have never known anyone chatter away like you … you are a born writer… Hope you are well and happy with your family.. Bob and I send you all our very best wishes… THANK YOU FOR A LOVELY READ>>>> Joan XXXXX

  3. margaret burke September 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    hello martha
    have just finished the mad house book great .hope you do go on to write more would love to see what happens next .a lot of your book i can relate to my self. hope you are well love all your books they make me cry and laugh like an eejit. i feel i know you so well if you ever have a book signing near kildare .i will be there would love to meet you all the best

    margaret burke

  4. cathy September 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    martha, i feel i know you. i have read all 5 of your books. just finished the last one today. What am i going to read now? i love your sense of humour, it comes through at all times even at your lowest times in your books. i am longing to know if you met up with Ralph in France. Is he still a priest? Did you have a passionate affair with him? i am longing to read all about it in your next book. please tell me there will be a next book – i just cant wait. I wish you all the best and i hope you will do a book signing in west cork some day. You are an inspiration to all those who are struggling through difficult times. take care Martha and please get writing again soon.

    Cathy S

  5. michelle September 29, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Martha what can i say, words fail me to explain the different emotions i went through reading all 5 of your books.your a very gifted person a talent beyond any ones belief. I probably read your latest novel to quickly not fully digesting, just to eager and excited to get through the chapters. if you ever come to England you must publicise it, what a wonderful opportunity it would be to meet you and an honour for your signature! Keep going with your life stories what a star you are. xx

    love michelle

  6. Jennifer October 4, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    i so enjoyed your story telling. You have a true gift!

  7. Tracey Murphy October 13, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Love your books, you are very couragous to write about your life in such detail. It broke my heart to read about the family tradedgy in the begining of your 5th book, its no wonder you took a nose dive. Really want to know more, The monk or the Priest 🙂 Do we really have to wait a year for the next installment???? heres hoping there is another installment.

  8. jan October 27, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    I have been so gripped by your story, am amazed at your will to survive all that abuse and come through such a smashing person. I have read all of your books and cannot wait for the next book, and whether the priest is still in love with you. When oh when will it be on the shop shelves?!!

  9. Jane December 10, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I’m a quarter way through ‘mad house’ and already know i will be so lost when i get to the end. I’m reading it much too fast as its so gripping. Please say you’re writing the next installment. I’ve laughed and cried my way through all your books. They would be great as screenplays as well. You are so talented and brave and an inspiration to all.

  10. Lee January 17, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    Hi Martha

    I wasn’t going to read Ma, he sold me for a few cigarettes for fear of bringing my own horrible childhood memories back, I’m so glad I did. Now I have read all 5. I so admire your courage. We are alike in so many ways.
    I do hope you write another one – I ‘d love to know how you got on with Ralf…

  11. Lydia McIntosh January 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Hi Martha
    I am in awe of you, you have lived such an hard life and you are always so positive on the outlook of life. Your books are amazing, me, my sister, my mum and my nan and have all read them! I am just on your last one now as now available for download on kindle yay! Cannot wait to see what happens in this book…..
    Lydia x

  12. Julie Booth February 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Hullo Martha from Australia. Did you ever think your life story would reach this far, and that we would be so spellbound by your life story. Like everyone else, I have now read all 5 books, and was then left up in the air. I had to get straight back on the web to try and glean some idea of how your life went after going to France. Thank goodness I see that there will be another book out in September. Speaking for myself, I think everyone just wants to make sure that you finish/ed up happy, because you deserve it. I would love to see you at a book signing in Australia.
    Best wishes, Julie

  13. nicola roche February 25, 2012 at 1:04 am #

    hi marta o my god were do i start well done im heading to town to get the last book no 5 tomorrow im missing your storys and whit already i hope you end up witha happy future love hugs nicola x

  14. Eilish February 26, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    My Sister Una has read You’r books,told Me about them.I have now finished the third book,amazing books.Very sad and witty at times the way You came out with things.I know I came from the Country and You did not really like Country Folks.No harm anyway.You have had great courage and a very t
    tough life.Do hope You met up with Father Fitz.again.Him running away????Cannot wait to read next fourth book.
    Cannot work properly next day,as I read until ALL hours.I am going to blame You for not sleeping.Ha Ha.
    Well done on the books and good health and happiness to You….

  15. Peta Webster March 15, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    Hi Martha

    Just finished reading your latest book. Can’t wait for the next book to find out if it was Ralph or Sergi.

    I have only read your first book and last book. I didn’t realise there were others inbetween. So those are my next read.

    After reading your first book I couldn’t believe a child could survive the hardship that you endured. You are a brilliant author and can’t wait for the next book. Ate you doing any book signings at all.

    Regards
    Peta

  16. Temple Flowers March 19, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    I have just finished Ma iv’e got locked up in a madhouse just this very minute & I am so excited about the release of Martha’s next book in September. Martha Long My God Bless You.
    You have made sense of such an awful childhood & I too wasn’t very fortunate in my up’bringing & writing has helped me to deal with it. Martha has been an inspiration to me & as I put the book down this afternoon with tears of joy in my eyes I said ”Thank you Martha you are a good friend!” Thank You again Martha for being so brave as to share your story with us,I know I am truly grateful to have been able to read your story. Please do come to Australia for a book signing!
    Temple Flowers

  17. Jo Cunningham March 25, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    Hi Martha,

    I feel cheated, I have only read 4 of your books, he sold me for a couple of cigarettes, ma I’m comin up in the world, ma I’ve got meself a new mammy and the last one was Ma I’m in the mad house. What was the name of the other one and I will go searching. Will you be writing another. I just love them and take every opportunity to promote and pass on.

    Jo

    • administrator March 26, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Hi Jo, the title is “Ma, it’s a Cold Aul Night an I’m Looking for a Bed”, you can purchase a copy on rbooks website: http://www.rbooks.co.uk. Martha Long’s follow-up to Mad House, Ma, I’ve Reached for the Moon an I’m Hittin the Stars, is due to be published by Mainstream Publishing in September 2012! http://mainstreampublishing.com/.

  18. rose April 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    Martha you are the most inspiring person I have ever come across. I hope you are enjoying good health and happiness as you truely deserve it. I am nearly finished your 4th book and looking forward to the next one. I can so relate to your story as I had a breakdown aswell because of family problems. At 49 Iv finally learned to live without them, through the help of good friends and therapists, and practicing gratitude every day. Just wish I had the strength to do it years ago. Looking forward to your next book. Well done, you’re a legend, your children must be very proud of you.
    rose xxx

  19. carol doherty April 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    I have just downloaded your 5th book after sitting up to 5.35am this morning finishing the 4th book … ahhhhhhhhh … words cannot describe the feelings i feel reading through your books … I am addicted !!
    Though disappointment swept over me straight away when end of book 4 to start of book 5 you have went from being 18years old to your thirties … I know some of the things you have went through to be very private, you mentioned this … but you have gripped your audience through all of your books with very private detail accounts as to what happened you … I would like to know what happened during those years … there is a huge gap there that needs to be filled in … is this coming at a later date Martha ??

  20. tina April 26, 2012 at 4:29 am #

    Jaysus have ta say ur bleeding wired iv had all your books iv had laughter, tears, anxiousness and worry all at once…. But ya never lost your sence of humour or purpose once!!!! Being a dublin raised girl coming from little meself and a big family i have to say im speechless ya have touched me heart and lifted it in ways no one els could in bad times:-):-):-) really do hope to hear more fron you Martha your heritage to our little owl dublin!!! Xxx

  21. Philly May 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    Hiya, will ya please let us know when and where you will be signing your new book in Dublin in September .OOHHHH cant wait

  22. Trisha June 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Hiye Martha, I dont have many role models and it takes a great story teller to make me look up from a book and go off into a daydream about what im reading. It took me twice as long to read your books as it normaly would because i kept drifting off to spend time either talking to, looking after and crying or laughing with that little scamp of a girl. I spent so long wishing i was her mammy and how id tuck her in at night in a warm soft comfy bed healthy happy and safe. Your a definate role model in my life now and i cant wait to read more about your life in your new book. Trish xxxx

  23. patricia whyte July 22, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Hi Martha im originally from plunkett avenue in finglas.I have read all your books.I admire your courage strenght and deternination you are amazin!! To go through all you have and still be here to tell the story and the thing about it all is it’s all real life like i said your amazin.I was laughing when reading some of the phrases you come out with things that i haven’t heard in years and the funny thing is your a dubliner through and through you spell the words the way us Dubliners prounounce them ha ha .The most amzing thing about you is what sooo many people do you came up in the world got yourself educated but never forgot where you came from like i said very very much admiration. Trish xxx

  24. Sean Devereux September 29, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    Hi Martha
    My mother in law came to visit me in Australia in 2011 and left behind your book, Ma He Sold Me For A Few Cigarettes’ . I recently picked it up and only finished reading it today. I don’t read many books but I could not put yours down. Reading it as a male, I often felt ashamed of the things some men do. I’m left feeling sorry that I was not around at that time to sort out that Jackser. Great to hear of your successes. All the best for the future – your my hero.

  25. Lloyd October 1, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Hello Martha , I have just finished “Ma , I’ve reached for the moon an I’m hittin the stars”. I have to say your lifestory has kept me enthralled for the last couple of years and I will be keeping your books for many years to come.

  26. PADDY DUFFY 5 GLENPARK CLOSE PALMERSTOWN DUBLIN 20 October 7, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    Dear MARTHA JUST FINISHED READING MA HE SOLD ME FOR A PACK OF CIGARETTES, I HAD READ ALL YOUR OTHER NOVELS BUT COULD FIND THIS ONE. A FRIEND GAVE ME A LOAN OF IT AND LIKE ALL THE OTHERS I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN, MY HEART WAS BLEEDING FOR YOU BECAUSE OF YOUR HARD LIFE, BUT I PISSED MYSELF LAUGHING AT YOUR FANTASTIC SENSE OF HUMOUR, AND BRINGING ME BACK TO MY TIME WHEN I HAD TO GO AND COLLECT THE TURF AND THE GRUB FROM THE STEW HOUSE. GOD BLESS ST MARTHA LONG YOU ARE MY HERO XXX PS WOULD LOVE TO MEET YOU

  27. Sue Russell October 26, 2012 at 2:21 am #

    Hi Martha, have just finished your second book and can’t wait to read the rest, truely amazing stories. I have laughed and cried through your stories so far. I love your positive nature with everything that was thrown at you. I will carry that with me and learn from it with my own life. Thankyou for sharing that. I’m am sending this from Perth, Western Australia and am recommending your books to my friends and family. Love from Sue xx

  28. Patricia Johnston January 8, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I now have another author I love to read. My all time favorite has to be Guy Gilpatric. He is a beautiful writer, very very funny, interesting, intelligent, kind like you! He wrote the Glencannon stories and others. I am on the hunt for more of your good books. I am sorry they all were so careless and cruel with you so many times, Sincerely Patty

  29. Helen February 8, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    YOU ARE AMAZING!

    After reading all your books I feel I know you and i have had such an adventure with the highs and the lows of your life it has been wonderful reading about your life and how it had changed so much. You have a wonderful way with words so magically written you certainly kept me on the edge of my seat dying to read the next chapter of each book. Thank you for sharing your story with the world you certainly are a wonderful woman thank you Martha x

  30. Margaret Rae March 14, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    Hi Martha, I just finished your sixth book. After reading your first book, I bought all your other books. Your beautifully written life story evoked many emotions and feelings, especially for what you went through and endured growing up. Thank you for sharing your story. You are such an inspiration with your courage, spirit and humor thoughout. You deserve much happiness, Wishing you much love, joy and peace, Margaret

    • administrator August 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

      Thank you. Come to the launch of the final book in Dublin or London next month if you can.

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