John Michael Cahill was born in a tiny house in a narrow alleyway. Now he has written a book about his childhood called Two Walls and Roof. It’s a wonderful story of an Irish childhood … sometimes sad, sometimes funny but always fascinating. Here he tells how he came to write it.
I have always loved to read, even as a child I read by candle light. Almost any kind of book sent my vivid imagination into overdrive, sometimes with dire consequences. On one such occasion, when I was about seven, I set fire to my bed believing my candle was a rocket.
During my early school days after being repeatedly told I was stupid, I realized that the only thing I was any good at, was writing compositions in English.
Later as I grew older I attended a new school and there I developed a rebellious side to my thinking, where at one point I concluded that Jesus Christ, might have been the world’s first Communist, a Heresy indeed. I wrote about that hypothesis for a school competition and won.
The headmaster, a bit of a rebel himself, easily saw the logic of my argument, and insisted that I read my ‘Heresy’ to all of the classes. That little walkabout was a big mistake for both of us, as I nearly got expelled from his Catholic run school, and he almost lost his job over it.
However, to his credit, when he was told to reprimand me, instead, he encouraged me, stressing writing as a career. Before I could even contemplate that kind of work, I was to leave his school and ‘get the job’. My ‘job’ then became two passions, electronics, and Pirate Radio, and writing was soon forgotten again.
A lifetime later, I began corresponding with an American woman from beautiful Missouri, and as we wrote about our lives, she would laugh constantly at the things I told her about my youth in Ireland. Usually she ended our chats with, “John, you simply must write a book, because you have a way of describing things, I can see them when you write…”
She’s now my wife JoAnn and she is also my greatest critic. In the end, I took her advice, and after ten years of writing and rewriting, I self published Two Walls and a Roof.
The title comes from the house I was born in. It was originally an alleyway that had once been walled up and roofed. In this tiny little house, barely six feet wide, six children would have numerous adventures on a daily basis, and I recount these as well as my own mad life for posterity, because we all have a story, and it should be remembered.
My mother was our constant motivator and the book is dedicated to her. Belenda Bridget Cahill became our support in a sea of eternal struggles, always believing in each of us when no one else did. Despite being told once that three of her children would be blind in six months, she refused to accept that prognosis, later one of them would write a book called Two Walls and a Roof, such was the power of her dreams.
© John Michael Cahill.