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:


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