For the longest time, I tried to distance myself from my Irish heritage. Yes, I’d been to the Emerald Isle twice over the years, and each time I had to laugh at how very green it was, comically so. But I was just too uncomfortable with childhood memories of unspoken family resentments, tacky St. Patrick’s Day decorations, and all those songs my father would enforce upon us. Maybe I just needed someone whose approach was a bit more subtle, more gentle. Maybe Colm Tóibín. The Irish novelist swept me away from the minute I read the first page of his The Blackwater Lightship, and the luxurious undertow has continued through each novel and collection since. A master of captivating, unobstructed storytelling (you’re never aware of a “writer at work”), his tales of what he calls “almost-ness” strike a real chord in me. So when he appeared in Boston recently for a Q&A with novelist Christopher Castellani (left) and a later talk and reading (a performance really) of his story “Two Women,” I was in the front row for each. My family always used the expression “the gift of Blarney” as a way of saying someone had the knack of spinning a good yarn. And while he may not call it something that obvious, Tóibín sure has got it.