There are three causeways to cross on the journey from An Cheathrú Rua to Leitir Móir. A beautiful road along the coast, past the Hooker Bar and Tigh Ruairí. Then left at Tír an Fhia church, along a narrow bog road to Paddy’s house. We’ve come back to say goodbye.
There are three clocks in Uncle Paddy’s sitting room. All show different times. The clocks don’t matter, you can never tell the time here. The turf fire is always smouldering and the room is silent except for the ticking of a clock. I’m never sure which clock ticks, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish one I think. Conversation and laughter soon abound. Talk is through Irish here and it’s a privilege to listen to the richness and poetry of the language. We talk about the weather and the neighbours. Who’s still living and who’s passed on. Their names are magical. Neighbours’ parents’ and grandparents’ Christian names are used as surnames. Linking them through generations.
There are three generations here. Granduncle, niece and grandnephew Darragh who, with his cousins, is emptying Paddy’s generous supplies of pink fluffy biscuits and red lemonade. His parents decline in vain Paddy’s offers of near-full glasses of whiskey – a little space is politely left in the glass for the splash of red lemonade. Visiting today too is Paddy’s sister, Cáit- my son’s grandaunt. There have been many goodbyes in this house over generations. Cáit has been in the States for fifty-five years. Eight of Paddy’s brothers and sisters emigrated from this house. Paddy left too but came back home and so did his brother, Cóilín- my father-in-law. I’m glad he did. We’ll be back too.
ART WORK BY DARRAGH