Oh end this day, show me the ocean. When shall I see the sea. May this day set me in motion. I ought to be on my way. Burn off the haze around the shore. Turn off the crazy way I feel. I’ll stay away from you no more. I’ve come home to stop yearning………..James Taylor
Top o’ the morning to you all! Yes it’s that day of the year.. St Patrick’s Day.. The day when we all happily claim a little Irish Heritage whether or not we really have any. I feel quite superior claiming my Irish roots as my beloved grandmother Gargie was born in the mother country. A proud, feisty, strong, courageous woman who came to Australia as a WW1 bride and never returned.
She wanted to go home to visit, although Australia became her home and she loved it. While her loyalty certainly lay with her adopted country, her heart still lived in Ireland. She yearned to once more dip her feet in the Liffey river. She would have given her soul to hug her 12 brothers and sisters once more before they all went to meet St Patrick. She was the oldest of the siblings and outlived them all. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that overwhelming sadness in her eyes when she got news that the last of her siblings had passed away. The night before she left us to join them, I believe she astral travelled back to her beloved Limerick and said goodbye to the country that held her heart.
I grew up with so many stories of Ireland that I always felt every bit as Irish as I do Australian. I know we do have other heritage as well, yet I definitely identify only with the Irish and Australian. When I was about 4 years old, someone gave Gargie a vinyl album…. Irish and Proud of it.. by Ruby Murray. Oh, that just cemented my love of all things Irish. I’m surprised it survived as I played it over and over and over. I still own that very copy of the album and have since purchased the same album on CD as it was a must have. Cockles and Mussels, Ruby Murray style, was, in fact, the very first song I ever sang publicly. It was my first year of Primary school and we had a junior grade assembly. All of grade prep, grade one, grade two and grade three. My teacher Miss Stewart chose me out of the grade to sing in front of the assembly. You’d think a 5 year old would find that daunting.. but not me.. Up I got, and belted out the song I knew as Alive Alive-O, even managing to put an echoey effect on the end like she did.
I used to love to sit on Gargie’s bed with her (she was crippled with Arthritis so often bed bound) and listen to her sing Danny Boy. I still cannot hear that song without hearing her voice. I’ve heard hundreds of beautiful versions of it, but none compares with the beautiful, rich, deep dulcet tones of Gargie singing it to me. She made sure I knew both verses and could sing it perfectly. There was no mucking it up.. I had to do it justice. While I can sing a reasonable version of it, I am but a mere amateur when compared with her exquisiteness.
She described the walks along the streets of Ireland, and I could close my eyes and easily imagine walking with her hand in hand, so vivid was the telling. When she described dipping her feet in the Liffey River in Dublin, I could feel the cold water lapping at my feet. As she described the green, patchwork fields, I was sitting on a hill with her, overlooking them. I walked the cobbled paths with her as she described the thatched cottages. I saw photos her family sent over through the years and they were so like our family to look at that I felt like I knew them already.
She made me promise to go home for her. She wanted me to walk O’Connell Street and drink in my surroundings. She wanted me to dip my feet in the Liffey River. She even wanted me to kiss the Blarney Stone although she said I didn’t need any help in the “gab” department. She wanted me to see the Mountains of Mourne. I yearn to sit in an Irish Pub and listen to the music. I want to hear the stories told in the strong Irish brogue that I grew up listening to and so sorely miss. I want to be part of the Craic. I want to retrace her steps and imagine life as it was for her when she walked that path. I have to see Molly Malone’s statue and thank her for her song. I would dearly love to see Finbar Furey in concert in Ireland, and hear him sing “The first leaves of Autumn”, the song played at my daughter Aimee’s funeral.
I am so determined to get there. But it’s much more than a want.. It’s a need. I absolutely yearn to go. I feel I will never be completely whole until I go there. I know there is something there that I need to experience to understand myself fully. I know it sounds crazy, but to me, it’s my spiritual home. I don’t know what it is, but deep in my soul, I just know it’s there. I’ve always known. Ireland holds a secret for me, I just don’t know exactly what it is. Until I go, I will never be complete.
I think she wove a magic spell over me that made me incomplete until I get there. I know there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for me… I just don’t exactly know what form it will take. I do know, the end of the rainbow is in Eire though. Australia is, and always will be home to me. I love this country with an indescribable passion and am so very proud to be an Aussie but Ireland is part of me and I need to visit. I need to learn the secret she has hidden there for me to find. And there is no doubt, the woman was a spell weaver…. spreading gold dust along the cobbled paths, luring me to walk them. She wove the magic of Eire so well, it is part of my psyche. I know when I do go, she will be skipping along the path beside me, welcoming me home and helping me find that missing piece of me.
I also know that now it’s my time.. I have spent many years looking after other people. My choice completely but now I’m free of those responsibilities. Gargie lived with us from when I was just a kid, so I spent a lot of time fetching for her. I never minded at all. I helped Mum nurse her and she died when I was in my early teens. Mum and Dad came to live with me when I was only 26 and I helped Mum nurse Dad till he died a few years later. Again, I nursed Mum and held her in my arms as she passed away. Of course, I also raised my own kids in that time, through some of the hardest times imaginable. And I wouldn’t change it. It was a privilege to look after them all. They are the great loves of my life. They ARE my life. But now, it’s time to find the other part of me… the missing piece.
I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I know it’s so necessary that the universe will provide the means for me to go. My heart is yearning to go home to a place I’ve never been….. Ireland. My spiritual home.
Happy St Patrick’s Day… Livvy 🙂
These two woman are responsible for my love of music!