A Letter from Ireland:
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How Ireland has Changed: A Reader’s Letter from Ireland

I don’t have to tell you how beautiful Ireland is, all of us have been here.

Just thinking about our first visit “home” in 1968. It had been 20 years since Mom and Dad had seen their relatives, and much had changed. Remember the differences between staying at Mamo’s in the West of Connemara and Uncle Thomas’ Dairy Farm in Clare? Mamo didn’t have electricity or running water, which we thought was great fun, pumping the “tiley” for light and heating rain water over the fire to wash up-our hair never felt silkier! The “can-o-pee” bed was a different story. Some people had a canopy over their bed, we had one under the bed!
“Helping” Uncle Thomas save the hay was also fun for us, and though I’m sure he could have done without the help of a pack of Yank kids, he was very patient and kind with us. I can still feel the warm of the sun and breeze coming from Loop Head not far away.

Ireland has changed, as the Beatles song says “some forever not for better”, but that is the way life is, and no country knows better or has experienced more change than dear sweet Ireland. Invaded, thrown off their land, starved, and yet both sides of our family stayed and toughed it out. We have no idea the desperation our ancestors felt, or the sadness. You have only to visit a mass grave site to feel the sadness, or Kilmainham and the GPO to feel their spirit and sacrifice against oppression.

Yet they survived, and more than that they THRIVED! Mom and Dad have told us so many stories about the house parties, the music, the laughter, the sheer joy of being Irish and free, and living off the land. Sometimes with all our modern conveniences, I envy them that joy and freedom. I asked Mom and Dad many times how they survived, and Mom would simply say “Sure, we didn’t know any better” I didn’t understand that at first, but I do now. You survived, you thrived, because failure was NOT an option. Make the best of your circumstances.
I’ll close by saying, I am thoroughly enjoying the fresh and wonderful food, the sad and inspiring music and the majesty of the sea, the mountains, rolling fields and the cliffs. There is nothing like sitting at the edge of the Wild Atlantic, watching the waves crash and imagine Dado taking his small boat into the surf to fish, and the millions of Irish who looked back on the shore, brokenhearted, never to smell the sea, or a turf fire again. Yet, here I am, because of the bravery of our parents to set off to a new life in a new land, here I am, fierce fat as the Irish would say, proud and sad at the same time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

See you soon,
Love,
Barbara.

  • Mary (Foley) Hurst says:

    “Mamo” and “Dado”, exactly what my sisters and cousins called our own grandparents! And how are they pronounced in Ireland? Are the “a”s pronounced like the “a” in “and”, or are they more like the “o” in “on”? My Mamo and Dado were not Irish to the best of my knowledge, and we did spell the words a bit differently. In fact, none of us really knew HOW to spell them and everyone seemed to have their own way of doing so. I wonder, is this an Irish term like “Nona” and “Nono” are the Italian way to say Grandmother and Grandfather?

    • Mike says:

      Hi Mary – more the “a” – and typically an Irish granny is known as Nana – not so for the grandad! Mike.

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