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.