St Patricks Day is on March 17th, St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and this day is celebrated around the world. In light of this I thought I would write a little about my irish folks and me and some of the reasons why we love these people so much.
I wasn’t born in Ireland, but my parents were. They were both born in Northern Ireland. My dad is from Kikeel County Down and my mum is from Ballycastle Co Antrim.
My parents met and married in Coventry and then moved to Loughborough, where they had three boys and then nine years after having the last boy, along came a little girl. That little girl was me. I was delivered by my dad at home, which to some would be a big deal, but my dad grew up on a farm in Ireland, so having delivered, sheep and cows etc, a baby was not big deal.
When growing up there was a massive Irish community within my home town and everyone went to the local Irish dances that were put on. I can remember going with my parents and seeing all my cousins there. I loved to watch my mother and father dancing around the floor to the old fashioned music that was playing. Music is very much a part of Irish peoples lives and so is dancing. As the years went by I asked my dad when I was 10 to teach me how to dance so that I could dance with him. He taught me how to do the old time waltz. So the next time I went to the dance, my dad asked me if I wanted to have a dance with my old dad and I did and loved it.
One of the things that you will find with Irish people is their warmth and compassion for each other. Everyone wants to help you out and if you feel down there is always a big hug and a love from both the men and women. Everyone wants to buy you a drink and won’t take no for an answer and they will buy drinks and crisps galore for all the kids in the pub. We had a friend who was an Irish farmer, who did just this.
Every year we used to go to my grandmothers house to see the new year in. I have a massive family that consists of loads of aunties and uncles and on last count I have over 30 cousins. The house was full to the brim. There was irish music playing and everyone danced in the kitchen, then a three course meal was served. Men first, then the kids, and then the women. The women looked after and fed everyone. That’s what irish women and irish mammy’s are best at, looking after people. Last but not least, all the men took it in turns to sing a song, while having a cigar. Most of them had packed up smoking years ago, but would have a cigar with a glass of whiskey. Upstairs all us kids ran riot through the house, jumping on the beds and playing games and granny didn’t care, because she had all her family under one roof and she loved them all.
The pictures are of my family at my Grandmothers house. The Cunningham, McCormick and McGowan clan.
I spent alot of time with my mother when I was little, My dad worked shifts and my mother worked in the morning and afternoon to fit around family life. School holidays I was always with my mother. She was fantastic at baking and making jam. I would stand and watch her for hours making damson jam and scooping all the pips out. My mother taught me about life and how to treat people with respect and to look after them. Her warm heart and generosity was amazing to see and I for one am very thankful for all that my irish mummy has taught me. She loved to laugh and joke. She had a massive laugh and an amazing smile. My mother looked after all of us and helped my aunty as well, who was my mums sister, who had a few more children than my mother.
We often went to Ireland to visit my relatives in BallyCastle Co Antrim. We stayed with my Aunty Mary, who is another one of my mums sisters. Aunt Mary, always had the kettle on. As a young girl, it was funny that every house you went to they wanted to fill you up with tea and feed you until you were about to burst. Breakfast would be soda scones, irish potato cakes, eggs and a vegetable roll, which was like sausage meat. For dinner, was meat and a massive pot of floury potatoes, that were cooked with the skins on and you helped yourself and then put lashings of creamy butter on them.
My Uncle Frank had a lovely cottage that my mum and her family were born in. On occasions we would stay here. It was set high up and you could look down to the beautiful stream, where my brother would go trout fishing. Up the garden and over the hedge was some wonderful countryside. We would go walking and watch the rabbits and hares running around. We were careful not to go next door, as they had a massive bull in the garden, that got out and chased me and my cousin down the hill one day. I have never ran so fast. The cottage was beautiful, but, there was no toilet in the house. So you had to take a trip to the man made one up the garden and often in the dark. I tell this story to my daughter, who thinks its funny that mum, had to go out in the middle of the night. Anyone that has stayed in Ireland will know that the sky is blacker than black and going out in the night is scary.
I love all of my family dearly and although we are all not altogether anymore the memories and the love for one another will never die. I hope that I can carry on there traditions and values and make them very proud of me.
Although these days I very rarely have a drink, I will on St Pat’s day and salute my Irish family and say cheers.
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