A trip down memory lane

I was in Galway for a few hours today to see the moon…more about that in another post but while I was there I took a walk to my old stomping ground of Woodquay where my Nan lived.

It’s strange because the house looks the same from the front and although there’s now an extension at the back the landing window where the stray cats used to congregate still looks much the same.

The alleyway at the back looks smaller than I remember. I used to play ball down there and hop across the back wall to another girls house. I also used to visit a girl called Clare who lived at number 10 – until my Nan found out she wasn’t catholic and put a stop to our friendship.

As I walked down the road I could almost hear echoes of my Nan. She used to go round the house saying ‘Maw, Paw Kettle’ – and spit on the range. I’ve no idea why she did it. I could hear the drunken family gatherings where everyone would sing Spancil Hill and someone usually ended up crying – not me either. I could picture us hanging out of the bedroom window the day we lost my Nan, lost as in lost – not lost as in died, we were meant to be going out for the day and my Nan was going to Mass (as usual). Only she didn’t come home. Hours later we heard the religious procession coming down the road and there she was at the front leading it!

I could see my dad the day he fell through the scullery roof and landed in the sink as my Nan was washing up. He saved the Sacred Heart picture from smashing as he caught it on the way down. I don’t think she ever recovered.

I remember the many times Bishop Eamon Casey used to visit the house. He’d always be given a substantial amount of money or a whole salmon….random. My Nan thought the world of him.

Walking further down the road I walked past the B&B which used to belong to Grealish family. They were one of the first in the area with a telephone  and we used to have to phone them to talk to my Nan. I remember many a happy day in their house listening to music; Fade to Grey by Visage and Games without Frontiers by Peter Gabriel spring to mind.

I carried on walking and saw what used to be known as the ‘huckster’ shop. It was owned by a man called Danny and his son. They were lovely people and I’d often be down there getting the ‘messages’ (shopping).

I walked around Nuns’ Island. I had no idea it was right in the city.  I used to spend time with the family who looked after the nuns, I remember watching hurling and GAA with them. The Poor Clare convent is there, I remember watching the sisters behind a gate in the church, I was told they weren’t allowed to speak and I thought it was very sad. My mother used to contact the Poor Clares for everything; exams coming up, illness in the family, good intentions – you name it the Poor Clares were asked to pray for it.

I remember my dad driving down the Headford Road singing Buffalo Solider. I remember taking long trips to Connemara to see various cousins and wondering why they only had a one-roomed cottage. We used to go to a hotel with Brother David – for years I thought he was actually my brother. He always used to bring me gigantic boxes of chocolates with pretty pictures on the front.

It’s strange the things that you remember when you walk back down memory lane.

 

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In the shadow of a giant

Quite a few weeks ago I was up at some daft hour due to insomnia and decided to go off walking. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was beginning to rise and I drove to the Isle of Innisfree.

From there I walked from Innisfree to Slish Wood and back again. This is part of the Sligo Way Walk which runs from Lough Talt just outside Tubbercurry and finishes in Dromahair, Co. Leitrim.  The whole walk is 80km and I don’t think I’d ever consider attempting it but I like the fact that you can break it up into sections.

At Innisfree you follow the signs with the little yellow walking men/women. I had to cross a couple of styles and walk through some farm land at the start, I had a welcoming committee!

Just a short way into the walk there are the boardwalks and I always wondered why they were there and why people couldn’t just walk on the land. After stepping off the wood I quickly realised why they are there as my foot went sinking into the marsh! I lost my shoe for a while and ended up knee deep in mud! I did get my shoe back after some tugging!

The scenery up there is just stunning. The purple rhododendrons and the blue of Lough Gill with the Sleeping Giant providing a backdrop. It’s so easy to see why the poet WB Yeats was so inspired by this beautiful landscape. The photo above was featured by Discover Ireland on Twitter 🙂

The dew was sparkling in the morning sun and when the camera caught the light and the water droplets I was treated to a display of rainbows. It was just so peaceful and breathtaking.

On the way back to Innisfree I wandered through the forest and thought I’d be clever and take a short cut. Big mistake when I came up against a barbed wire fence but I was more or less back so I paddled through Lough Gill – it got rid of most of the mud anyway – although I was squelching when I reached dry land. I took a moment to look at the lake and dry off a bit and I saw what I thought was a lump of wood until I saw it jump into the water. It was an otter! The first one I’ve seen one in the wild, it moved too quickly for me to get a photo of it.

If you get a chance and are looking for a beautiful walk, I’d really recommend this one. Just stick to the path though.

 

My earliest childhood memory

I was listening to Paula MacSweeney on Today FM this morning (worth getting up early for) and she was talking about her earliest childhood memory and listeners were texting in theirs. Anyway it got me thinking.

My earliest memory is very clear. I was in my cot and got frightened by a sound outside (which I now know was an electric milk truck). I could see my window and there was some light coming in and I could make out a silhouette of a giant bear. I remember crying because I was so scared and my mum came in and picked up the bear and put it in the cot with me – it was bigger than I was! She didn’t pick me up or speak, she just gave me the bear. It’s so vivid it’s almost like a movie. The bars of the cot, the net curtains, the bear and my mum – all in the early light of the morning.

What’s your first memory?

 

The difference a year makes

This photo was taken last year. I look happy and well but it’s amazing how a smile hides the pain. I wasn’t in a good place when this was taken. I was depressed and very anxious, suffering from panic attacks and struggling to fix myself. Physically I was in good shape, as in I was a size 10, I wasn’t eating much though. I was on medication including antidepressants and sleeping tablets and I was very low in B12.

Fast forward to this year:

I’m off the meds, I’m relaxed, I’m not depressed, I still get a bit anxious occasionally but nothing like before. I’ve discovered what a lot of my triggers are so I choose not to subject myself to them. I’m still learning. I realised this week that a late night in a noisy pub isn’t a good place for me. I also realised I’m really not good at all in crowds sometimes and that’s OK. I’m not happy with the weight but I’m unable to lose it even though I’m trying. It’s a small price to pay though. I’d rather be happy and heavy than thin and miserable.

I suppose the aim of this post is to reach out to those who might not be in a good place. If someone told me last year that things would get better I wouldn’t have believed them. It can and does get better though. Look after yourself if you aren’t in a good place. Do what works for you. You can’t mind others until you mind yourself first.

Thanks for reading.

Wheely Great News

Happy days as Jono got a wheelchair today. That’s going to make life so much easier for him and we are delighted. He also got an out- patient appointment through for Dublin for the beginning of next month. It’s great that things are finally moving forward and thank you all so much for your lovely words and support.

Everything else is grand, I got such a great response to the Galway memories post so I’ll probably do another few similar posts. It’s interesting looking back, I’ve had a varied life and haven’t written about most of it so that might be the direction I do down with the blog now. It’s much easier now that most of the Sligo topics are covered by Sligo Hub – which is doing so well and I’m delighted about that too.

So happy days all round. I hope you are all keeping well.

 

Holy Dog!

There I was walking the dogs this morning and minding my own business when Puggly slipped his lead and ran off. I legged it after him until I lost sight of him. It wasn’t until I realised that Mass was in full swing and a feeling of horror came over me. He hadn’t had he????

As I stood for a moment in the church porch I heard the priest telling the congregation about a special visitor they had and how he was very welcome. Oh no, he really had! I poked my head in the door and a lady nodded at me and pointed in the direction of the altar.

I did my best mission impossible attempt at flying down the aisle and I couldn’t look at anyone. I followed the sounds of giggles and Puggly ‘purring! I grabbed him and we moved as quickly as we could. I’m completely mortified and would like to apologise to the church goers.

Puggly, on the other hand, is oblivious and I think he quite liked his morning out. There’s never a dull moment.