Dedication: in memory of my cousin Wendy Knolle (nee Hurburgh), brave spirit, who discovered the stoires of our Irish great-great-grandmothers, but did not live to see them told.
Epigraph: The black potatoes scattered our neighbours, Sent them to the poorhouse and across the sea; They are stretched in hundreds in the mountain graveyard, May the heavenly host take up their plea. O God of Glory, save and answer us, Loose our bonds and right our case, Give us light out from your heart again And level the poorhouse in every place. Michael Coady, Na Pratai Dubha (from the song of the Great Famine, attributed to Maire Ni Dhroma of Ring, Co Waterford, c 1850).
Epigraph: After this earth there is the world of the Shi. Beyond it again lies the Many-Coloured Land. Next comes the Land of Wonder, and after that the Land of promise awaits us. You will cross clay to get into the Shi; you will cross water to attain the Many-Coloured land; fire must be passed ere the Land of Wonder is attained, but we do not know what will be crossed for the fourth world. James Stephens, Irish Fairy Tales.