<p>View of Carlingford from the sea</p>

View of Carlingford from the sea


Kevin Woods

29 January 2017

I was asked to write a short piece for an Irish American Mag.called "The Spirit of Ireland" for the year of The Gathering 2013.

I remember the last train pulling into Carlingford Co. Louth in 1951. I was seven then. I remember “the big people” talking about how disastrous it would be for the locality. I could see no consequence for me .As a child I was ok about it. My father was the county state solicitor and held in high regard along with teachers, doctors and clergy. Then there were the rest! We regarded ourselves then as a classless society unlike the other crowd across the water.
As I reached my teenage years the impact of the railway closing began to dawn on me. Our town had lost its vibrancy, derelict buildings were the order of the day, men stood on corners, pitch and toss became a source of income for some or a loss for many. There wasn’t much happening!
I remember Joe Finegan leaving for Boston. There was a collection for him in the town and a presentation made to him at a dance in the parochial hall. Everyone knew it was goodbye. We wouldn’t be seeing Joe again and many other Joe’s followed.
My father was delighted when my brother followed him in his footsteps. He was even more delighted when another one was ordained a priest. He was less than enthusiastic when I told him that I wanted to be a salesman and close to distraught when my younger brother decided to run a chip van.
By the late 60s my uncle, a parish priest working with the Irish Centre in London organised a special train from London to Holyhead called “The Homeward Special”. He arranged a cheap fare to give Irish labourers a chance to come back home. It was packed but it’s also likely that that those who still couldn’t afford even that fare never saw Ireland again. When the boat docked in Dúnlaoire the hardest of men cried as they stepped off onto Irish soil.
The tears didn’t come only when they embraced a love one they came as they stepped off the boat. I was there. I saw them and in my physic I understood.
It is hard to image today in this world of plenty and cheap flights that such a thing happened such a short time ago. They had returned from a country not far away and were so grateful just to be “home”.
I don’t believe that there is another race with a reputation for being hard fighting drinking men who would cry in such circumstances. Poets - Yes. Writers –Yes. But these men; No!
There is something in Irish people that appears to be uniquely ours. It is an affinity we have with the place that lies deep in our physic. It is a desire that is passed on in a mysterious way through genes to generations that only know the place from the words of their forefathers. There are generations of citizens of other countries who still call themselves Irish who have never been here but dream of the day they will be. It is stamped in the itinerary of their lives. To be a part of it is to be a part of the spirit of Ireland
My parents are both gone to their reward. My father grew to love the openness of the new world when free education allowed us all to be equal – a classless society. He told me many a time I was a pretty good salesman and he came to love my brother’s chips.
Come home for the Gathering it’s in your genes.
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Bridget McKeown

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Bridget mcallister

29 January 2017

Lived in carlingfordMore > (0 comments)

Melanie Fallon

29 January 2017

My mum Theresa Lamph came from Carlingford, my granny was Rose O'Hanlon. Now live in Ireland. sadly my Mum died many years ago.More > (0 comments)


29 January 2017

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