29 January 2017
Memory : A Dead Fish
White-washing Ghan House was a huge job back in the 1950s.When you were 11 years old and part of team of juvenile whitewashers it was sometimes difficult to stick with the task.
The whitewash was delivered as dry lime. It was put into a fixed basin which had a fire grate below it, as big as a barrel that had been used in The Miss Rudderfords time in Ghan House for boiling pig swill.
Mickey Murphy the father of Kathleen,wife of Rory Mc Kevitt was the man in charge of the operation. Looking back he had a poor team of helpers most of us dressed in Wellington’s short corduroy trousers and tops, and none of us volunteers.
The lime wash barrel was located in a shed in the back yard next to the bell tower. There was still turf mould on the floor and the odd sod of turf remained, remnants of harsher days when my parents went to the bog at Omeath to cut their own turf to heat the Ghan. My job was to get the hose fixed up and run it from outside the kitchen window, take it around what we called the “wee shed” and finally to the pig swill where water was added to the lime.My brother John did the stirring working it to a paste and finally on to something that was pliable enough to brush on to the wall.
It was a lovely sunny day one of those days that was more made for playing than working. My mother came to inspect the progress, she was kitted out in her wellies and ready with brush and bucket to lead by example. In one of those rare moments of abandonment as she had her back to me, I seized my opportunity and turned the hose on her backside.
She dropped the bucket and ran with me following her with the hose, down the sandstone slab path and into the back kitchen slamming and locking the door behind her, the spray bouncing off the door
I still remember the thrill of it. I hadn’t done anything like it before and definitely not to a parent.You just didn’t do the likes to parents in the 1950s.I knew retribution would come. An hour passed and there was no sign of her. The back door was still locked. I tried the front door. She had locked it too. Another hour and still no sign of her! She was playing a waiting game! I could see that the window catch was off on the “boxroom” window.I moved slowly and quietly towards it. I could see inside the rows of shoes and sandals polished by Ginny Connelly laid out in rows like a legless army shining and ready to march to Sunday Mass. There was no sign of my mother.
Placing my fingers on the bottom of the sash window I eased it up as far as it would go. I listened –no sound. Slowly I began my climb through – head, hands, torso, and then –BANG****.My mother sprang like a panther, she whacked me across the head with a dead Haddock.I didn’t know what hit me.She laughed as she said “ That will teach you”.and it did.
I see that moment now as one the most loving moments of my mothers love for me. She came down that day to my level to that of a child and played the game with me. I love her for it.
She is 95 now and that spirit and sense of fun she had that day still remains with her and the love with me.
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29 January 2017
My mother and father.More > (1 comments)
29 January 2017
I remember returning home with my father Anthony in 2005 to visit Glenmore where his own father John was born in 1905. I say returning home, as I had never been to Glenmore before, but when I was there I felt like a salmon feels when it finally reaches its destination after traveling thousands of miles across the ocean to where it was born. My father himself had only been back once before with granddad in 1938 when he was just 12 years old and they had walked the whole way from Dundalk station to Glenmore. My father stayed next door with the Donnelly family and remembers being very embarrassed at staying with a lot of girls! He remembers my Great Grandmother, Mary O'Neill (ne Reilly) sitting in the corner of the old house dressed all in black. My father also vividly remembers the old Glenmore church with it's arch and slabs of stone laid by his ancestors, so much so we spent hours driving round trying to find it! Only to discover it had been rebuilt and a car park was now in it's place. That's progress! He recalled to me walking to the top of Slieve Foy with two of his cousins, Jerry and Albert and remembered how he cried when he reached the top he was so scared. He felt he was on top of the world. When we finally made it back to the top together fifty five year later he laughed at how he had felt back then as a boy and also laughed to his cousins Jerry and Albert who were no longer there that he wasn't crying now! Instead he has brought me home, his daughter, Shelagh who had made my own special journey with him to be there. Home again. We went to see Mary Reilly who lived up from the old house and as soon as I walked through the door she said she felt like crying as I looked the image of my Great Grandmother Mary. I knew I had come home again. I had always felt so tied to Ireland but as my mother and father had separated when I was just three I had never known why. So many unanswered questions. Great Granmother Mary and Great Grandad Andrew had had eight children, Mary (Minnie), Tom, Alice (who died aged 8), Elizabeth (who emigrated to Australia), John, Andrew, Peter and James. All of the children were the best turned out children you could imagine and how Mary was able to do that in the little cottage they all live in will always amaze me. When I was taken to the house, now a just a shed, I stood and wept. How she must have felt seeing all of her children leave her and emigrate to find work must have broken her heart. I can't imagine it. I feel so grateful that I was able to make it back to Glenmore with my father and see where we came from before he passed away last November. We spent so much of our lives apart, but walking up that hill together we found not just each other but how our roots were so entwined with one another and with Glenmore which will always stay with me forever. More > (0 comments)
29 January 2017
The pain of leaving this place could only be endured with the certain knowledge that we would return. So when that day arrived Daddy was always the one to collect who ever had been away. Driving home filled with excitement, waiting for that first glimpse of the mountains just after Dunleer. Grandchildren coming from Kerry re-named them Papa's Mountains because they knew they were nearly there. Coming in the old Dundalk road, past The Bush,until we came to the Cross of Grange, turning left here, and up and up we climbed until be were at the highest part of the road. Daddy would stop the car and taking in the sweep of the Mourns, the blue of the Lough, Maeve's Gap, Finn lying along the crest of Slieve Foy, he would turn to the one who had been away and say,
"You see it was here all the time just waiting for you"More > (0 comments)
29 January 2017
Priests house keeper.More > (0 comments)