"It is our last day in Ireland today as we sail home tomorrow. Our final day will be spent visiting a Facebook friend Danielle in Carlow and later, my cousin John Brennan and his wife Kaye in Kilkenny.
It is fitting that the last Irish contact I shall meet is John Brennan as the Brennan family were a major part of my father’s early life.
My father came from the poorest of large Irish families and in his early teens, he was effectively brought up by my cousin John’s parents, Ann and Mickey Brennan, who took him under their roof.
After my father’s footballing career ended (then an unpaid activity, even at international level), he came to England to find work down the mines and establish a home to bring his wife and first three children across to.
During our early years living in England in the late 1940s, we Irish were discriminated against until we had settled into English ways. In the late 50s and 60s, the discrimination then changed towards the West Indian immigrant and by the 70s, those of Pakistani origin. Today, we discriminate against all manner of other social groups and nationalities.
Then from the mid 90s, the Northern Riots between black and white citizens broke out and racialism between both groups spread from Rochdale to Bradford at a ferocious and alarming rate.
The Northern Riots emotionally moved me so much that I wanted to capture the spirit of it in book form. I also wanted my own opportunity to put the record straight as my personal experience had shown me that it wasn't a 'one way street'. I wanted to portray the discrimination that was practised by white towards black, by black towards white, by black towards black and by white towards white in all countries, and particularly Ireland, Jamaica and Northern England. I decided to write a trilogy of books called ‘The Kilkenny Cat’; the sales of which were used to provide vital basic educational materials for the 32 schools in the old slave capital of Falmouth, Jamaica.
I decided to make all characters (with the exception of two) in this allegorical trilogy, a group of travelling cats through Ireland, Jamaica and Northern England. The travelling cats face discrimination wherever they go. The only two characters in the books, which aren’t cats, were Ann and Mickey Brennan, who adopted an abandoned kitten after its mother had died; very much as the real Ann and Mickey Brennan had adopted my father in his youth.
The Kilkenny Cat Trilogy took five years to research and write and is ‘a must’ for any adult cat lover or person concerned with any form of discrimination. It is available in E-book format from www.smashwords.com or in hard copy from Amazon or www.lulu.com. All profits from book sales will be given to charity as have been all my 64 published books since 1990 (over £200,000).
So you see, the Brennan's are in many ways largely responsible for me being born in the first place by helping to rear my father, and it is fitting that John Brennan should be the last person in my family tree that I see on Irish soil."
William Forde, July 10th 2015