Thursday, June 30, 2011

Birthday Wishes Aunty E

Today would have been dear Aunty E's ninety-fifth birthday. It is with a deep sense of guilt that I have to admit to not missing her company these days. Thirty years ago the story would have been so much different. For a start we would certainly have celebrated her birthday with most definitely one too many whiskies, her preference always given to the Irish alcohol industry whereas I tended to (and still do) favour a fine Scotch malt.

The first ten years of our thirty six year relationship (she was my huband's aunt) was to say the least, passionate, at times, almost juvenile. There was nothing we wouldn't do for each other, we would never allow anyone to say anything hurtful towards the other. We got very drunk together, in fact, looking back now, I question if our deep friendship was not solely based on our mutual love of the old devil's brew, maybe not. We were kindred spirits.

During the early years we shared many adventures including a day trip to Hollyhead in Wales during which we literally missed the boat back to Dun Laoghaire, Dublin so got the train to Bangor....oh it gets better! Perhaps some future blog posts concentrating mainly on our happy, fun times? It seemed nothing could ever tear us apart.....or so I thought.

I have only just realized that we had known each other for as many years as was our age difference. That in itself is a little unsettling.

If Aunty E were alive today, of course I would be celebrating her great age with her with a glass or two of the golden brew while yet still struggling to rekindle the flame of our love that once bound us inseparable.

Above image taken by me in Allihies, Beara, Co. Cork. (The fuchsia was one of Aunty E's favourite flowers).


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Workshop

The workshop (window, far left) as it was affectionately known was a small room in my adoptive mother's family bungalow in Rathmolyon, County Meath where her father repaired the household footwear for himself, his wife and seven children. Indeed, his shoe repair service would have extended far beyond that of his family, most likely he was responsible for the upkeep of the surrounding neighbourhoods' shoe leather!

One abiding memory I have of visiting my aunt and uncle (my mother's sister and brother) in their cosy home was of going into that room and being met by the full-bodied aroma of real leather. Even though it had been many years since the room was used as a workshop, large squares of the skin still lay redundant on their shelves and of course the mighty cast iron anvil was centre stage on its bench next to the fireplace. That magnificant feat of engineering, the sewing machine, stood sturdy in the corner, its handle shined from decades of constant turning.

I loved that room, it had an air of tranquility about it, perhaps an energy from the time when my grandad worked in peace with the tools of his trade away from his seven noisy children! Beneath the window stood a large brown travel trunk, the kind you'd see in the old "pirates of the high seas" films of the 1950s.

One day while I was browsing through its contents I came across a large leather-bound army medical book and for the remainder of my two week summer holiday I sat out in the farm yard with my nose stuck in it at every given opportunity. The tropical diseases were fascinating and although some of the images of surgical procedures were truly gruesome they nonetheless intrigued me. I should have taken it home with me because when I looked for it a year later the trunk was missing. It was in that same treasure chest that I found a Penguin book of plays which I did ask to keep, I still have it!

Sadly, both my maternal grandparents had died by the time I came along. Lucky enough I have photos of them and judging by my grandmother's bright smiling face, having seven children served only to add to her beauty. My grandfather I'd say was the stern one, you can tell by his smile that he was probably thinking "Come on, hurry up and take the bloody picture", or words to that effect.

That is just another lovely memory I have of my childhood holidays spent down the country where life flowed at a slower pace.

Cast Iron Anvil image:
Travel Trunk image: