Fictography #14 — A Love Letter From Mitchell Henry of Kylemore Castle, Connemara, Ireland
/FICTOGRAPHY/ def. — The intersection of photography (submitted by readers) and fiction (written by me!).
How spectacular is this castle? Over spring break, a group of students studied abroad in Ireland. One such student was Emily Maranto, a senior at Stevenson University. Emily has taken several writing courses with me, and as well, she’s got a special place in my heart because she was fortunate, as was I years and years prior, to intern at the Orioles. The students had so much fun on their trip, and last weekend, I was told the story of Kylemore Castle and its history, once the home of Mitchell Henry who built it from 1863-1868, and ended up not spending much time in it after the death of his wife, Margaret, in 1875. She had contracted a fever while in Egypt and passed away at the age of 50. Since 1920, the castle has been the home to Benedictine nuns, who have resided in it ever since.
Much like writer Philippa Gregory writes historical fiction (I loved The Other Boleyn Girl and couldn’t put it down), I decided to try my hand at historical fiction, writing from Mitchell Henry’s perspective after the passing of his wife. Much the same as Joe DiMaggio placed a rose on Marilyn Monroe’s grave every day after she died, I imagine Mitchell writing a letter each day to his dearly departed Margaret.
I hope you enjoy today’s fictography, and thank you, Emily, for the sensational photograph.
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For ease of reading, the printed text of the letter is below:
My Darling Margaret,
It’s been 212 days since your passing. The days grow increasing longer, my dear, as I must endure your interminable absence. I find myself walking the paths we’ve walked together, taking a turn in the garden where your assortment of roses have awakened in glorious blooms, the colors so vibrant, my dearest, they heighten the senses, and I am constantly in awe of their perfection. Each petal is so delicate, yet so sure of its posturing that I almost feel neglectful of them as a whole, for I cannot possibly examine each one individually. And so I admire them as a whole, as you would have done, pleased with their expressions and their vivacity.
The garden has become a place of peace for me, as I find myself lingering with a book or stopping to pray and ask for forgiveness. Had I not insisted on you journeying with me to Egypt, I might still feel your presence, nestled next to me, hearing your glorious laugh as you tickle the nape of my neck—a gesture I so miss and will likely never experience again.
The way that the children look, still devastated and missing their mum, breaks my heart, and so, my dear, I have decided that I will not live here much longer. I will go back to Warwickshire and work in Parliament where I will throw myself into my work, allowing an occupation I find rewarding to envelop me with the hope that it will be able to mask a broken heart. I am not confident it will work.
Progress is being made on your church; I have set it slightly off the main grounds, one mile from Kylemore, where you and I will rest in peace together, forever, into a sleepy yet blissful eternity.
How I long to see you one day again, my dearest, loveliest, sweetest Margaret.
Yours Faithfully with Love Forever,