Thanks Dad – For Sharing Life’s Journey With Me

In 1928 in Ireland, perhaps like most of the world it was a country dealing with a lot of political strife and unrest, so one can only imagine how difficult it was to make ends meet and raise a family. This was a time just after the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Civil War of 1921, momentous occasions in the history of Ireland and well proven in history books around the world.

Dad’s Arrival

Well during all this strife, like today and everyday life goes on, and on the 29th of January 1928 my father was born to proud parents Martin and Margaret. And as was tradition in Ireland one son would be called after the father, and lo and behold Dad was christened Martin.

Martin and Margaret were normal average good descent folk, who had a small holding of about thirty acres, set under the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the County of Laois (once referred to as Queens County during an occupation of our nearest neighbours England). During the winter months the conditions were harsh in this part of the world, with the wind sweeping down from the mountain, and especially if there was sleet or snow falling and you happened to be caught out in it, I nevertheless get a tingling feeling when I think of the way those hailstones would pelt off my confront and hands it sure was tough.

Summer, now that’s a different story. The beautiful mountain took on a different meaning to me, it was the most wonderful place to be, the scent of heather wafted by the air and I felt sad for those people who lived in cities that would never experience the joy of this freedom and living with character in this way.

Devilment

By all accounts Dad was a well liked young man in the locality, no saint either, got up to all the mischief and devilment that young boys get up to, simple stuff like grabbing apples from orchards or pulling pranks on neighbours. One of the stories I nevertheless find quite funny was a time when he and his older brother John, during nightfall tied a burning fir bush behind a bicycle and rode at speed past a neighbour on our very dark road. The neighbour ran as fast as he could, entered another neighbour’s house and recanted that he had just encountered Satan on the road outside and requested that they send for the priest and have the area blessed closest. Good old honest to God fun.

Dad’s Early Life

Dad worked hard from an early age, this meant getting up at six in the morning before going to school to help with the milking of cows and other farm chores, a three mile walk to school after that, where he got a basic education and then a three mile walk back, farm chores again, a bit of study and bed. No television, no electricity, no running water just good old story telling that sometimes would frighten you to high heavens. Then you would go asleep with one eye half open.

He intended to emigrate as did nearly all of his eight brothers and four sisters, but he just loved Ireland so much and the Irish way. Then in 1954 he met my darling mother Catherine Grehan. After a few years courtship they tied the knot on the 14th of February 1955 and over the years blessed me with four brothers and ten sisters. My brothers are Martin, Aidan, John, Francis (R.I.P) and my sisters are Margaret, Ann, Claire, Gabrielle, and Joan (R.I.P). Majella, Angela, Carmel, Frances, Mary. Many of us use the family crest rings displaying the family pride.

We have a sport in Ireland which is known as GAA Hurling, it is reckoned to be one of the fastest games in the world. The game is played with a Hurley stick, and the ball when hit at complete force travels at a speed of one hundred miles an hour. Playing this game or looking at other teams playing was our pastime on Sundays and I treasure every moment I spent with my Dad on these occasions. When I was very young I truly thought he invented the game because he knew so much about it and knew so many people involved. The culmination of the sporting year was when the final was played in Croke Park when family members from all over the world would return and attend. For close on forty years I attended those games with my Dad and I’m so glad I did, as now that he has passed on I sometimes dwell on those precious memories to lift my spirits when things get a little tough.

A little advice on Dads

You don’t always have to agree with what they say, but it’s no harm to listen because remember if your lucky enough to have a Dad around for the amount of time I had, they sure experience a lot, and a lot of what they experienced can certainly be helpful when analyzed and used correctly. Tolerance is a great attribute.

My Dad passed on to next part of his journey on the 3rd of July 2010, I miss him very much and I hope we will meet again. I loved him dearly.

Today I am a Dad with three sons, two daughters, three granddaughters and a two grandsons and I hope that one day, you too will be a Dad and get a passion for life and have great memories. Don’t ever be afraid to say sorry for mistakes that have been made and always have a sense of forgiveness, its healthy and rewarding.

My dad was a classy, proud, considerate and humble man that would assist anyone at any time. May he rest in peace.

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