Jun 27 2011

A day out to the graveyard

Published by at 1:17 pm under News

(Click on the image to enlarge)

When we were all small the Ma’ used to always take us for real long walks everywhere. One of her favourites walks was up to Glasnevin Cemetery. Sometimes she’d bring a lemonade bottle filled with water for us to drink and she’s always pack a few sandwiches as well. She called them ‘Dagwood Sandwiches’ because each sandwich had three slices of bread. Sometimes there might be some home-made jam in them or just margarine if it was during the summer. As you can see from this photograph taken in 1967 my mother rarely went anywhere on her own. We were like little baby ducks tagging along behind her.

We’d always head up over Broombridge Road and call in to her sister to see if she wanted to come with us. Well she had a gang of kids as well and together we all looked like something out of an orphanage. We’d head over the Royal Canal at Broombridge and turn right down along the canal bank towards Phibsborough direction. This was a magic land for us kids as we’d toss and throw stones in the canal water trying to splash each other.  The Ma’ and her sister would walk miles ahead of us. But do your know, the strange this is that my mother always claimed to have eyes in the back of her head. Without turning around she’d shout out ‘Stop trying to push your sister into the water’. The Ma’ missed nothing that was going on behind her back.

When we finally got to the bridge at the far end we’d turn left and head up towards the cemetery. In next to no time we’d be at the row of little cottages on our left-hand side and across the road was the big wall surrounding the cemetery. The Ma’ would tell us stories about grave robbers digging up the dead in the black of night. Soon we’d arrive at the gate of the grave yard on the canal side of the main cemetery where my Granny was buried. The Ma’ and her sister would stand beside Granny’s grave in quiet contemplation saying a silent prayer for the repose of her soul as we ran wild amongst the surrounding headstones and graves. Then we’d head over to the main cemetery to visit all the Ma’s school pals who had died. Just inside the main gate we’d all sit on a strip of grass near the holy graves of all the catholic bishops and have our picnic. By the time I got to have a drink of water out of the lemonade bottle there’d be lots of spits and bits of bread floating on the top.

We’d then be taken on a tour of all the old graves belonging to the men who fought and died in 1916. We were always taken to see the resting place of Countess Markievics because my Granny knew her well. Very few of the people the Ma’ knew had a headstone over their grave. She must have attended all of their funerals because she knew exactly where each one was buried, what they died from and the year that they died. The Ma’ and her sister would spend ages talking about each one and who they went out with and eventually married, were they lived and how many children they each had. What a great store of information these two sisters had between them. Then we’d head home along the Ballyboggan Road back to Broombridge.

As children we had no fear of grave yards because they were just second nature to us. Even today when I go away on holiday I’m looking for the local grave yard. Well now when I visit Glasnevin Cemetery I always stroll over the railway bridge on the other side of the road and visit not only my Granny but also my mother and her sister. They are all together in the one grave. And that’s how it was always meant to be. In life the three of them were inseparable. Isn’t it a strange thing to think that now, we are the older generation. Over the years I very often took my own children into grave yards for picnics and made up all sorts of stories for them. What great memories to have of spending time with the Ma’…God bless her.


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