Thursday, March 31, 2016

Long weekend memories

I hope everyone who celebrated Easter had a wonderful time, lots of chocolate (if you wanted it!) and a relaxing time adjusting to the time change as the clocks went forward.

We had family  to stay - The Offspring and his lovely fiancée and the grand-dog  Lola  came to visit and stayed overnight. This was the first time that Lola had stayed and the cats were pretty indignant at having a d-o-g invade their space.  It was funny to see Ruby (who is about the size of a little bit dropped off  Lola)  fluffing herself up - with the fur on the back of her spine standing on edge to show she was no pushover. Charlie gave some fierce deep growls to warn the intruder that this

was his house  and she'd better watch her step.  But Lola has grown up with 6 cats so she knows the ways of felines and then  after  a few hours they   all settled down and  kept  a safe distance so that peace could be established.,

Most of the weekend,  I spent a fascinating  and nostalgic time watching the ceremonies carried out in Dublin to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916.  It was an important  Centenary for Ireland and it re-awoke some personal memories of my own.

One hundred years ago my mother was just a baby of seven weeks,  and my father was  14 months old, both  born in Ireland  but obviously totally unaware of the major events in Dublin that week.  My grandfather though was only too well aware of what was going on. He had been friends with Eamonn De Valera  who taught in 2 of the colleges where my grandfather had held the position just before him.

Fifty years later, I was in Ireland at the time of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. My grandfather had just died and left behind his collection of technical and complex  mathematics text books. (He had gained a degree in Mathematics and Classics) These were not the sort of thing that any of his granddaughters were at all interested in.The only person my mother could think of who might be interested in those books was the man who had once sent my grandfather messages in complicated codes with mathematical problems - Eamon DeValera who was then  President of Ireland.  He and my grandfather had  broken off contact and ended their friendship  as a result of  'the Troubles'  and  it was only when she wrote to tell him that he learned of my grandfather's death.  As a result, he then invited my family to afternoon tea at his official residence Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin. I remember a very tall, almost blind old man (though he hid that most of the time, only admitting any problem when he asked my mother to pour the tea instead of going it himself) who admitted that he when he was asked to sing at school picnics,  always sang The Minstrel Boy to the tune of The Harp That Once Through Tara's Hall. He was thrilled to receive the mathematical tomes, though I doubt that he was able to read them with any ease.   No mention was made of any of the events of Easter 1916, or afterwards,  even though it was the year of the 50th anniversary.

The generation of my family who lived in Ireland at the time of the Easter Rising are now  all dead, but later this year, the Babe Magnet and I hope to revisit the country of their birth to mark this centenary  and to visit  and the family landmarks  - the house where my mother was born in Clones, the church she was married in in Limerick,  my grandfather's house in Dublin.  That will bring full circle the memories   that this 100th anniversary  has sparked off.


Sharon Kendrick said...

What a fabulously interesting post, Kate - and it had a special resonance with me. As you know, my mother was born just over the border in Fermanagh and went to school in Clones and I've visited the town for the last three years and am intending to go again. I love it.
Hope you have a great trip when you go over. Stay at The Creighton! (pronounced Cray-ton!)

Your family history is fascinating.
Sharon x

Kate Walker said...

Thank you Sharon. Yes, I remember our connection with your mother and mine both spending time in Clones. I'm not sure if we'll have time to go there when we visit - or it might just be Dublin . . . we'll have to wait and see how much time we have available. But as I'm trying to do as much Family History research as I can you never know. There's a lot of family history to explore!


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