Thursday, November 6, 2008

My love of all things Irish


Growing up, my mum told me a lot of stories about her mum and dad. My grandfather, John Duffy, was born in Glasgow, when his mother was taking a weekend trip from Derry, Northern Ireland while in the final stages of her pregnancy.

My grandfather was in the same room as me when he died. He was babysitting me when I was about 6 weeks old and I was in the bassinette next to his bed. My grandmother had died 5 months earlier and my mum thinks my grandfather died of a broken heart, he was lost without her. My grandmother organised everything in terms of money, the house, the five kids, his business. My grandfather's favourite pass time after Sunday morning church was to put on his suit, hat and go and visit everyone. He loved to talk and everyone loved him to pieces.

That night, my Auntie Dolly was taking care of both me and my grandfather and she came in to check on me. She noticed my grandfather had stopped breathing.

I've known from a young age, how much I love John and my grandmother Georgina. My mum's sisters tell me wonderful stories about them and their marriage. A lot went down in their life. Some of which they have chosen not to tell me, I don't know why. I figure they loved each other very much but maybe my grandmother tired of taking care of everything. I've always felt close to them though, and know they have guided me and protected me.

When I was a teenager, mum's side of the family used to organise a family reunion called Duff-Speak. All the Brodericks, Duffy's and McGuinnesses would gather to drink and eat and at the end of the night we'd sit in a big circle and tell stories of the past. I loved those nights. I always felt sad at the end though, as I had this yearning for John and Georgina to be there. But I think they were.

When I lived in London, at the first opportunity, I went to County Cork in Ireland to stay with my second cousin John McGuinness. We had a wonderful time and he helped fill me in on the past. He had an old cottage in a valley with a statue of Mary lit up on either side of the valley. It felt like a magical place.

When I met Richard, I was delighted to discover his parents were Irish. His mum is from Buncrana in Donegal and his dad is from Listowel in Kerry. I've been fortunate to go back to both these places with him. His mum's family home in Buncrana is my favourite. The home is now a farm where his Uncle Paddy and Auntie Mary lived and its set up on a huge hill overlooking a lake. I would give anything to live there one day. Richard's grandmother Martha birthed all five children in that home and you can literally hear stories as you walk down the long hallway.

I feel so lucky to have come back full circle with Richard and his family history. It makes me think John and Georgina had a hand in us meeting. I know they would love him.

We've decided that when the baby is born we'll be giving them the middle names of our grandparents. If its a boy its middle names will be John James and if its a girl, the middle names will be Georgina Martha.










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