Friday, March 15, 2013

Here's a story from long, long ago

This is a view from where we always stayed on the island with Cape Clear in the distance.

My eye was caught by one of those pop-up ads today. Something about writing and storytelling and I hit the link which I rarely do and further down I caught a promo for the Story Telling Festival in Cape Clear in September 2013 and I thought, wouldn't that be something, wouldn't I love to tell a few stories there.

When I was growing up and all grown up and even eldered, Sherkin Island in West Cork is where my family congregates. Yeah, even this past year.

Southerly from Sherkin Island lurks Cape Clear while southerly of that again there's the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse which was the last sight of land the doomed passengers of the Titanic (and many other shipwrecks) observed.

But I digress, as I always do.

And I thought to websearch a wedding (with no luck, unfortunately) that my father and I attended back in the day. Way back in the day. I can't remember how old I was, I would venture maybe 12. My mother was up to her elbows in toddlers and babies and very much not in the mood for such things, particularly when the baby-sitter (me) could be snarly and unwilling. So I would often partner my father to different events. I should write about them some time. They were very interesting.

Anyway, once more I digress. This wedding took place on Cape Clear. My father had secured an invitation as (I think) a government representative. We had to take the ferry from Sherkin to Baltimore and then from Baltimore to Cape Clear. Much time was spent on the sea especially when my father wouldn't let me sit down anywhere as my dress was a pale pastel and the seats were filthy on the boats. I was up to 90 with excitement. My first fairly adult party.

It was a magnificent day. One of those brilliant West Cork days with Carbery's Hundred Isles laid out like jewels all around us, shimmering in the heat.

Dad had a habit of telling me now and again: “You should remember this – you'll never see anything like it again!” He was always right. (When I was three he held me up in his arms in front of the second floor window of a walk up flat in the small town where we lived and pointed downwards to the darkening footpath where a man with a long stick with a flame on top was passing: “Remember this, it's the last night that the lamplighter is coming around to light the gas lamps, tomorrow the electric street lights will come on!”)

As we got off the ferry on Cape Clear, he used that well-worn phrase on me.

I asked him why.

“Well,” he said, “The bridegroom is 85 and the bride is 83.”*

I started to laugh.

“And,” he said, “They've been engaged for over sixty years!”

And what a party it was!! It all took place in the Irish language, of course and I was proud I could keep up. The caint, the ceol and the craic (chat, music and good times) lasted late into the night. And the couple was so happy, their faces lit up with delight and they danced and danced. At that unferried hour, we were lucky enough to hitch a ride on a boat going directly to Sherkin, even though the course was pretty erratic due to the merriment of the tillerman, but the water was smooth as a baby's bum.

And, odd this, anything Dad told me to remember, I did. I am so very glad he made something special out of such extraordinary memories.

*PS At the time I understood that life got in the way of their marriage, care of elderly parents and younger siblings, dispute over inheritances, etc., being the various impediments to their betrothal.

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Blogger Irene said...

Your father was a wise man by making sure that special occasions were imprinted in your memory. And he must have realized how many of them were worth remembering. Children never forget. Our minds are like sponges.

Fri Mar 15, 10:51:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Molly said...

Caint, ceol agus craic! I think you had a richer experience of Ireland growing up than I did. We lived in a town that wasn't home to either of my parents, (since the war uprooted people and scattered them hither and yon,) so did not have such easy access to our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I sometimes think that, even though it's such a small country, and we have the big picture in common, the details make each of our Irelands different than anyone else's.
Love that your dad thought to warn you to take heed and remember!

Fri Mar 15, 11:21:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Hattie said...

What an enchanting tale. I get a sense of youth and brightness at the wedding of these very old people.
When my grandfather married his long-time woman friend in old age, my father said, by way of a toast, "Marry in haste, repent at leisure."

Sat Mar 16, 05:55:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous Enna said...

Two things my father took me to and told me to remember;
1. Roger Casement's re burial in Ireland in the 60s - its all on Youtube for those who need to know.
2.Shaking hands with the son of Seamus Mallon who was executed after the 1916 uprising.
At 1. we stood in O'Connell St in hideous weather and watched the gun carriage trundle by. Then we went into the Gresham and my father found he'd forgotton his money and I was proud to buy him a drink.
2. Michael Mallon worked with my father.My father led me across the room saying I want you to meet this man who's father was the famous Seamus Mallon and I want you to remember this.
I did and I did.

Sat Mar 16, 08:34:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Just caught up reading some of your sharing.
Always enjoy
and puts a smile on my face.
Have a wonderful day...

Sat Mar 16, 09:12:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger mel said...

What a beautiful story.

My father used to say, "some day, when I am gone, you will realize your old man knew some things after all."

And he did.

Sat Mar 16, 10:37:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous Grannymar said...

Great memories. I can see you on the boat trying to keep your dress pristine. Over sixty years waiting, true love if ever I heard of it.

Sun Mar 17, 12:36:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous nick said...

Engaged for over sixty years? Amazing that they were still just as much in love after all that time and that their affections hadn't withered in the meanwhile!

Sun Mar 17, 05:25:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Secret Agent Woman said...

I like that your Dad would point out things worth remembering. It's a good approach to life.

Sun Mar 17, 08:58:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


My father was an odd mix of casual cruelties and occasional nurture. A complex man with his own wounds.

I am grateful for the imprinting of memories.


Tue Mar 19, 10:20:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


For the time and place of it, it surely was extraordinary we got to spend summers on an island away from the city.

Very, very few were that privileged.


Tue Mar 19, 10:21:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

What a great memory for you!!

Tue Mar 19, 10:22:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


What a marvellous memory for you! I've read Roger Casement's diaries and also visited St. Michan's where his body is preserved (now that was long ago, is his body still visible?)

I hope you've written all of this down!


Tue Mar 19, 10:24:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


You too, my dear, you too!!


Tue Mar 19, 10:25:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


thank you, our daddies were often absolutely bang on the money!


Tue Mar 19, 10:25:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


I do wonder sometimes if there were stories underneath the stories!!


Tue Mar 19, 10:26:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


I remember being shocked at old people being so carefree, they were way older than my grandmother!! I didn't think they had the capacity.


Tue Mar 19, 10:27:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


I maybe have been remiss with my own granddaughter. Oops.


Tue Mar 19, 10:27:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous Rummuser said...

That is a fabulous story WWW. I wish that I could share some of the stories that I am now coming to know, now that I am visiting a lot of friends and relatives with serious health problems. So much that life deals us is kept away from curious eyes and ears and it is only when one gets the feeling that the end is near that one wants to share such stories. May be some of my own stories will come out before I have to put a stop to blogging!

Tue Mar 19, 01:33:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


You put a stop to blogging? never my friend while there is a breath of life in you.

I may have secured a job collecting seniors' stories around these parts. I would be delighted.

so much needs NOT to be forgotten!!


Tue Mar 19, 05:50:00 PM GMT-2:30  

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