Ireland


last post for the next 10 days or so. As of this time tomorrow I’ll be flying across the ocean on my way to distant shores of Emerald. Unbelievable, isn’t it? I’ve been preparing myself as well as the rest of the clan for days now….well, actually weeks, but who’s counting? My stress levels have been off the charts (and still are to a certain extent…), and I feel like I may just burst from the excitement of it all, but there is still a part of me that is in a state of disbelief. I suppose it will take getting onto that plane to make me a believer.

Ok…I have those last few things to throw into a suitcase so I can actually be ready to go. Wish me luck! Hopefully I’ll have lots of tales to tell upon my return. There will be pubs to visit, music to play and listen to, and many, many things to see and take in…that should be enough fodder for many a post for quite some time to come, don’t you think?

The title of this entry really does sound like it could be the name of an Irish Tune, doesn’t it? Perhaps one day, when I am exceptionally proficient at playing my tin whistle, and adept enough to actually write a tune, I’ll write one and name it “Finbar’s Folly”. Until then, however, I’m thinking I should stick to blogging…which reminds me that I’m supposed to be writing. Onward with today’s random ramblings in written form!

Finbar is five, as of this past January. While not old by anyone’s standards (except perhaps his own), he is still getting bigger by leaps and bounds, much to my chagrin. After all, just yesterday he was still my baby boy. Tempus Fugit…far too quickly for my liking. But even in his five yearness, he has somehow, acquired wisdom in his own, Finny way, in the form of revelations. It is those revelations that I’d like to share, for they really are somewhat humourous.

From the time he was about 2 1/2, Finbar was convinced that he was born in Ireland. Now, mind, I’ve never even been to Ireland, so unless there is something I don’t know, he wasn’t born there. Although, it would make my wish of moving there much more of a reality if his merely saying it made it so. Oh well…

As I was saying, Finbar always thought he was born in Ireland. If someone were to ask him from whence he originally came, he would respond most confidently: “Ireland!!” You may wonder why Fin came to this conclusion, for I admit it is rather odd. Well, let me explain it to you (as if you thought I wouldn’t!!). Quite some time ago, when Finbar was just a wee one, we were visiting friends in New Hampshire. One of those friends is a transplant from Northern Ireland, and the moment she saw Fin, she exclaimed (in my very best Northern Irish accent): “Oh! Doesn’t he have the map of Ireland on his face!!” From that time forward, whenever she saw him, she made sure to remind him of how Irish he looked, and as soon as he was old enough to understand what it meant, he was convinced he was indeed born on the Emerald Isle. He would tell everyone he could find about his self concocted heritage. You can imagine their surprise when I told them, in a hushed tone so I didn’t crush his little spirit, that he was actually born in Ohio. At least the explanation made for humourous small talk.

Unfortunately, the days of Finbar telling people he was born in Ireland are over. Apparently, when he turned 5, he was infused with enough wisdom to realise that he really wasn’t. It’s one of those sad “growing up” tragedies, when certain cutenesses fall by the wayside to be replaced by bigger boy behaviour. I always hate when that happens…it’s almost like the end of a favourite television show. You can reminisce but it’s never like it was.

In the case of Fin, he has indeed moved on, as his fiveishness dictates. He has become a big boy (at least by HIS standards!), which apparently affords little time for such silliness. He very grudgingly states that he was born in Ohio now when pressed, with a certain air of regret. Regret, of course, until his eyes light up and his face breaks into a huge smile…

“But some day I am going to move to Finland, and be the king, because FINland belongs to ME!”

It’s those little gems that make it all worthwile.

I wrote this a while back, and came across it just recently. It seemed fitting to put it here, since it was my first real attempt at fiction. It has no title…I was never able to come up with something I found to be suitable.

As Dan knelt down, he tried to think of how to word it all. What he was going to do wasn’t an easy thing, but it had to be done. And Eibhilín had to be told.
“We’re leaving, Eibhilín…Áine and I are leaving this very day.” There, he had said it. The worst, he felt, was over.
But after the words were uttered, Dan grew silent…thinking back over the past few years. All that had happened; all that had been taken away. It started with Eibhilín falling ill that winter 3 years ago. The doctor had said even if she were to get better, she would always be weak. But she never did get better. It was that winter 3 years ago that he lost her. It was this that he thought about as he knelt upon the very spot he had knelt the day she was buried.
It seemed such a short time ago that Eibhilín had died, and yet so much had happened in that time. Things were tight…they always had been, but with the potato crops suffering they way they had, there was only enough money to get them through to the next harvest. Each year seemed to be worse. This past crop didn’t make it through the blight so there was no harvest at all. When the money ran out, and the rent was not paid, the landlord told Dan and his daughter to find other lodgings. Dan pleaded with him…saying there was no other place to go… he had a small daughter to think of. He was met with silence, and was escorted out by the landlord’s crew the next morning. A smile crept upon Dan’s face, as he looked north and saw the smoke still rising from the rubble that used to be his landlord’s barn. You could always count on rebels not to be so silent.
As Dan gazed up, and saw Áine dancing merrily in the grass, a wreath of wildflowers upon her golden head, he whispered “She is a vision of you, Eibhilín.”
“Come Áine, we must leave now,” said Dan as he rose from his spot. Áine ran over, and placed a bouquet of wildflowers upon her mother’s grave.
“Da, will Mum always watch over us, even when we are in America?” asked Áine, as she put her hand into her father’s.
“Yes, Áine, I think she will,” answered Dan, as they walked down the road toward the glistening bay, to the ship that would take them to their new life.

Here is a bit of a story for you.

My grandmother was an immigrant to the U.S. Her childhood was spent in Ireland, in the province of Munster, in the county of Cork. I always had the impression that her childhood was a happy one (if one can judge by her stories), despite the turmoil that seemed to be going on throughout much of it, which was widespread throughout the whole of the country. I won’t bore you with Irish history, but suffice to say the battle for freedom was still alive and well during this time (especially in Cork)…it was something that she spoke about, with a Fenian gleam in her eye, for years after.

For much of her childhood, she stayed within the area she was born (I think West Cork), and associated with the same people for all of that part of her life. One person in particular seemed to be favored, and it was often talked about among the inhabitants of the town where she lived that someday the two of them should be wed. When my grandmother would speak of him, I have no doubt that they were right. He was the love of her life, and she of his. They spent every free moment together, and their love blossomed as lovely and fragrant as the roses in June. By the time my grandmother was 16, it was evident that marriage was very much in the immediate future (I believe he was 4 years her senior). As Easter came closer in the year of 1916, it was decided that this holiest of sacraments was to be conferred shortly after Easter Week. As she told the story, you could still see the look of happiness, mixed with a touch of melancholy, on my grandmother’s face. But there were other forces at work, which were to pull them apart forever.

Right before Easter, as everyone was preparing for the Holy Day, as well as for the pending marriage, her lover came to her to relay a secret. He was to leave…to go to Dublin to take part in a battle to ensure the freedom of the country. My grandmother wept bitterly, and tried to change his mind, but she knew that she couldn’t. His first love always had been for Éireann, and while she was devastated at his leaving, she would never try to compete with that love. It’s a love that not many people (at least here in the U.S.) could ever understand…true patriotism and love of your country, and a willingness to die for that love. So, with heaviness in her heart, she watched him prepare to go. And with the bitterest of tears, she watched him march with the other Volunteers down the road on the way to Dublin. Before he left, she begged him, once more, to stay, but he said to her: “If you promise to love me forever, I promise to be with you again.” She promised, and held his promise in her heart for all her years. But he never came back. It was on the steps of the GPO that her dear Séamus breathed his last breath…her name upon his lips.

It was almost too much for her to bear, and even many years later you could see the sadness of his loss in her eyes as she told her tale. Shortly after the Easter Uprising, my grandmother’s family made the trip to Cobh to board a ship en route for the United States. It was here that my grandmother eventually met my grandfather, married and started her family. It was here that she lived the rest of her days, never to go back to her native land again. I’m not sure that she could, in a way. Her loss was too heavy in her heart, even after all of those years.

My grandmother passed away about 20 years ago now. She was well in her 80’s, and she lived a very full and happy life. During that whole time, she kept her end of her promise to her dear Séamus. She loved him as no other, for as long as she lived. While he was not able to keep his end of the promise during his earthly live, it is my hope that their spirits are now together, walking through the fields of their youth, never to be separated again.