What I’m trying to say is ‘I miss you’

There is an old cliché that goes ‘if  the walls could talk’ which, leads me to think of our relationship to the physical environment that surrounds us. We invest a lot in that in which we live,be it in our own house or our own town. We develop an emotional connection with the inanimate and bestow upon it an identity, so much so that buildings, possessions become like old friends. I mention all this because I was through my old hometown the other day, or I should say the little that is left of it. I am a Curragh man and by that I mean from the Curragh Camp not the surrounds, and soon enough there will come a time when there are no Curragh people left. Why? Well ever since the mid 1980s they have been slowly pulling down the place and with it removing the people that used to live on it. The actual physical places that I grew up in will be no more. All that will be left is that trick of the mind that we call memories. At this stage most of the buildings that held a special place in my heart are gone, the first house I ever lived in is gone, the first place I ever kissed a girl is gone and the first place I ever got drunk is gone. It wouldn’t hurt so much but it seems that few people really care but they should. These are places that meant something and in a funny way I think that buildings can hold some kind of energy, the energy of everyone that every lived there. My first home, and the place that my heart recognises most as home even though I only lived there for six years, is seared so much into the fabric of who I am that I can still see it in my minds eye as if I was only in it yesterday. It was an old red brick Victorian house which was part of a terrace, which was made up of three blocks. When it would rain heavily the red brick would become crimson and ever since I can remember I associate red-brick with the word home.

Mc Donagh Tce: After the rain

Home, the very word is intrinsic to being Irish-it signifies land, it signifies belonging, our history recalls the plantations, the land wars and the hope that one day we would be unified under that one word: home. My house was a rented home shared by six of us, this was before my brother was born and we had to move due to lack of space. I shared a room with my two older brothers; a box room out the back and out of which I would stare out the window and look at the phases of the moon. From that window you could see the rows and rows of washing lines, one for each family and on dry days the white sheets would flutter against the wind. We had a little backyard in which my mother and I would sit and she would tell me things about life, teaching me the things I would need as I grew older. I can remember my first Christmas there, the first time I encountered snow (1982)  and the first time I was introduced to my younger brother all of which, are connected to that house. Most of all I remember the families, the people I grew up with and the sense of belonging to a community. For all the happiness it brought there will forever be attached to it a great sadness. The day I heard my mother was going to die I went to the steps of that house and ate my heart out with grief-the type of grief that comes when you have no hope left. Not that long after my Ma went to that great gig in the sky they knocked down the old place and alas it is no more. And so it is for the Curragh Camp, most of it is gone and what remains is in tatters and as I said soon enough all the people will be gone…but what a people we were.

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  1. Very moving. We weave into our lives things we touch, smell, see and hear. These are the things that make us who we are. However, your memories of the people you ‘were’ only need to be re-membered to bring to life the people you ‘are.’

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