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.