Nuala O' Faolain

Photo from Vancouver International Writers and REaders Festival, where O'Faolain read in 2007.

I heard a rebroadcast of a Fresh Air interview with the late Irish writer Nuala O' Faolain on May 12, the day of her funeral. She had died of metastatic lung cancer three days earlier. Today, I was thinking of her again as I came across a searing interview soon after she had been diagnosed February 9. Interesting to me, then is this other piece I found today from March 10, taking on David Trimble for his criticism of Hillary Clinton as "silly" for her claim of taking part in the Irish peace process. While Clinton's claims may be more hyperbole, a la the Bosnia sniper fire incident, this appreciation is still a moving one.

It may sound small to people now that what she came for was a woman's conference on one occasion and a lecture on another, that she knew people's names and histories and took note of them—and was no doubt sometimes lied to and misled and laughed at by women as well as men (outsiders often strike skeptical locals as simpleminded).

But she kept turning up anyway.

It was not small what she did.

Not small at all.

When the old guys obediently trot out their criticisms of what she did in Belfast, ask yourself: Who else did what she did? Who else gave what she did? Who else gave at all?

Even today, when it is all over, I don't know whether even Hillary Rodham Clinton knows how much someone like me thanks her—how aware I still am of what her bright, friendly, caring presence meant, when despair was very near.