This was a line I heard very often growing up. My sister and I were reduced to tears while poring over old photos of our childhood the other day. Tears of laughter that was! Our children stood by as we dissolved into hysterical laughter at our mothers’ choice of clothes, hairstyles, shoes. Mammy Byrne gleefully informing us that someday soon our own ungrateful kids would do the same! Out came a photo of me and my big sis standing at the front door on her communion day. Not one for dresses, my big sis was trussed up in a fab embroidered anglaise number with a gorgeous popes hat veil ensemble. I loved it! So much so that my lovely Godmother made me a replica, without the veil of course. So, there we stood on the doorstep, big sis beaming even though she had to wear the dress and veil, me with a face like “a pan of worms” another line I heard quite a bit!
I wasn’t allowed wear my specially made white dress on the day of the communion, it was for the following day so big sis could have all the glory on her special day. Only fair really. And so begins my career in “only being happy when causing trouble”! It all started of sedately enough. Grumpy head on me at front door before we left for the church but I’d get over not being allowed wear the dress, well that’s what they thought.
Of we set for St Peters Church in Phibsboro. In we went and took our places. Big sis went off to join her class and I got comfortable with my Mum and Dad and my lovely Godmother. I don’t recall how the conversation started but eventually I got round to telling my Mum in a loud clear voice (in the silence that only exists in churches) that she had a beard. When told by my Godmother that that wasn’t a nice thing to say I promptly told her she had too! I hasten to add neither lady had a beard; my Mum may sport the odd madwomans hair now and then. Anyway, I was causing trouble and obviously was a little happier than when we left the house. My lovely Godmother was instructed to “get her out”.
Much happier to be outside I started wandering up and down the steps of the house next to the Church. Of course this soon became a little boring and don’t ask me why but I thought sticking my head through the bars on the railings would be great gas. Believe me it was! Well ok, it really wasn’t. I got stuck. My lovely Godmother tried her best to get me out before the rest of our gang got out of the Church and rounded the corner to go into the garden for biscuits and lemonade. She didn’t. The main memory of my sister’s big day for all our family is me getting my head stuck in the railing, robbing her moment (and everyone in her class really). She has never really forgiven me for this.
Mammy Byrne was not impressed. Not even slightly. Nor as the story goes was she really too worried. I think her words were “leave her there; she won’t do it again in a hurry”. My Dad, and uncles and lovely Godmother knew she didn’t mean it (well that’s what I tell myself) and tried to calm three year old me down, yes I caused all this trouble at three. They eventually freed my head and Mammy Byrne and big sis where kind enough to allow me join them for biscuits and lemonade. Of course I was now famous, as everyone in the garden had had to pass me on the way in!
Old photos are great, each one tells a story, who would have thought that the grumpy young madam in the lovely red dress standing beside her beautiful big sister on her first communion morning could cause such mayhem! Well Mammy Byrne of course!! Sure wasn’t she always telling me I was never happy unless I was causing trouble? Self fulfilling prophecy, I blame my wonderful Mum!