dedalus Posted February 4, 2014 Share Posted February 4, 2014 Fierce rain lashes hard against the windows and so we pull across the curtains, letting the evening draw in, add a few more sods of turf to the warming fire, nurse our generous drams of single malt. Then we listen to, for no human soul can ignore the half-human shrieks of the wild Atlantic winds. I stand there silent, pensive, a visitor. How I loathe this godawful place! And I don't really know, says Uncle Liam, how much of it you understand. Upstairs, follow me, here in this whitewashed cottage, planted, perversely, on the edge of nearly nowhere, sits a four-poster bed with sagging springs in a room no longer used nor visited, occupied now by dust and sepia photographs, wherein the procreative urge unleashed five generations. The pounding rain, the heartless wind, now as in all times past and in all the coming times to be, derides aspirations, mocks any faltering sense of connection. On the bedroom wall housed in an ancient frame is a faded stitching sampler: "God Bless Our Happy Home", piously, and it would seem, uncertainly accomplished, but by her own hand, by Emily May MacCarthy on October 20, 1843. She was the fifth of eleven children and one of the six who starved. In later photographs, dapper gentlemen with large moustaches stare into the unforgiving lens with set expressions of puzzled defiance; they pose quite stiffly, among rather tasteful studio backdrops: a small side table, a pillar or two, some potted palms. James Boyle Roche. Photographer. 15 Bridge Street. Ennis is stamped within an oval in the corner: the building still exists, the ground floor is now a fast-food restaurant. Wedding couples, equally unrelaxed, stare sightlessly from the past; their eyes view mine across a canyon of mutual incomprehension: I could not even begin to understand these people. He sits, she stands, and she places a tentative pleading hand upon his rigid manly shoulder. There is another strangely out-of-place picture of my great-great-uncle Marteen, shot dead in the civil war. A cocky 24-year-old with a cheeky grin: he is brandishing an enormous revolver and smoking a jaunty cigarette. I can tell from the look of him we could have had a drink, could have easily cut through the damp lace-curtain piety, the respectability, the fear. But the rain will have none of it: it comes down in buckets, cascades: you will never never never be free, it says: not in this country, you will never be free. Liam is uncharacteristically subdued, even embarrassed: he shifts from foot to foot, in front of the warm and blazing fire. Upstairs. no need to return, there are so many old photographs here and there on the dresser, even more on the sideboards: cloche hats on smiling elegant women, baggy suits on the gents, all caps and hats; they grin and squint into the harsh sunlight of long forgotten days, sporting fashionable, very shortened neckties: my unknown, my all but unknowable dead ancestors. A flicker of sympathy if not recognition, slips through: a slim threnody of regret. Listen, I think I'm going to bed, it's been a really long day, I say. Liam frowns. An awkward silence ensues: Emmmm ... Listen to me. There's something I really need to tell you. It's about the family .... Don't. It will keep for another hundred years Quote Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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