On 18th June 2008 I was on the telephone with Eilis Ward, who is in the department of political science and sociology at NUI Galway. I had asked Eilis to write the foreword for the reprint of Bird’s Nest Soup which Cork University Press was bringing back into print as there was sustained demand after the broadcast of Remembering Hanna Greally on RTE’s Documentary on One radio programme.
Eilis had researched the life of Hanna Greally and she was telling me more about Hanna’s life. She told me that Hanna had written two more books, one was Coolamber Manor which had never been published in book form but it had been serialized in nine parts in the Roscommon Champion in 1972. There was another manuscript but details about it were sketchy and it was now lost.
After the telephone call I went into the Cork University Press warehouse to look for any old files on Bird’s Nest Soup. I remembered seeing an archive box on Bird’s Nest Soup when Cork University Press packed up its old files when the press moved from Crosses Green in Cork to its present location on the Pouladuff Road in Cork. After searching for half an hour I found the archive box marked “Bird’s Nest Soup and other manuscripts and correspondence with Hanna Greally”. Inside the box was a set of proofs of Bird’s Nest Soup which had yellowed with age. There was a copy of the 1971 edition of Bird’s Nest Soup, which has been edited in green ink by a staff member of Attic Press. There was a typed manuscript of 29 poems by Hanna Greally with titles such as “Love”, “the Peculiar Anatomy of Humans” and “Justice”. Finally there were two book manuscripts; I recognized one as Coolamber Manor. It was entitled “The Rehabilitation Story, Title Coolamber Manor by Johanna Greally. I had no knowledge of the other manuscript which was called “Cook-Housekeeper at Large by Hanna Greally”, it was dated 3rd May 197… the last digit was difficult to read.
I thought that this could be the missing manuscript that Eilis Ward had mentioned earlier in the day. I immediately telephone Eilis who was so excited about the find that she wanted to come down to Cork straight away to read it. I posted a photocopy of Housekeeper at Large to Eilis and she read it in one sitting. Eilis enjoyed it and found it engrossing and quite moving in parts, she said it was snappily written, with a lot of very good passages.
The two manuscripts are now published together as one book called “Flown the Nest”.