It’s hard to believe that the school holidays are drawing to a close. The days seemed to roll into weeks and the weeks just disappeared and didn’t even have the manners to leave behind memories of sun soaked hours!
This has been my busiest summer since the arrival of my first-born almost 14 years ago. I was fortunate enough to have work during the summer months for the first time since I started working in adult and community education. It has been a learning curve but an enjoyable one.
We have worked together as a family unit and managed to keep everything ticking over and have lots of fun during the not so sunny summer holidays.
My trips to Croke Park, I managed two, for two very different occasions, are on my list of highlights of summer 2015.
The first trip to Croke Park was to attend The Script concert on the 20th June, a concert I had been eagerly anticipating since receiving the tickets in December of last year. It was all the more exciting as we were attending as a family and it was our youngest childs first concert.
Father’s day was the following day so we decided to squash in a visit to Glasnevin Cemetery . Darren had been saying he’d love to do the tour and I never refuse a chance to visit the final resting place of my own dear Dad.
I have always found Glasnevin to be a peaceful, calm and tranquil place. Time has changed it and now when you enter the gates it feels like you are being embraced…by past generations, ancestors from long ago…I’m not entirely sure.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the fleeting thought ‘how many are resting here and how many more will’ as my gaze lands on the familiar and the new.
I watched One Million Dubliners with interest and pride. Glasnevin Cemetery is steeped in Irish history and there resting among it are my kin. The love and pride that Shane Mac Thomáis conveyed for the cemetery, the city and the country throughout the film was incredible to watch.
So on June 20th when I wandered through the entrance with my family I saw Glasnevin through new eyes. During my school holidays I would walk from Phibsboro to Glasnevin Cemetery to have a chat with my Dad. The funny thing was I never really needed to make the journey as I spoke to him randomly throughout the day.
I would stop at the flower shop down past Des Kelly Carpets and buy a single rose, this I would stick to Dad’s name in the garden of remembrance before strolling along the path by the boundary wall until I came to a tall mature tree that shades the spot where my Granny and Granddad Ryan were laid to rest. I would stop a while and remember stories my Mum had told us of her Mum and Dad and her young siblings who had left this world far too soon.
From here I’d walk deeper into the cemetery taking in the different styles of headstones some so old I couldn’t even begin to imagine what kind of life those who rested beneath had led.
On June 20th we entered the museum and got our tickets for the tour and took our place with the rest of the group and so began my formal introduction to Glasnevin Cemetery.
We walked among the graves of Ireland’s past leaders, activists, poets and writers. Some quite ornate and others so very plain. As I walked I recalled the opening chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses and was secretly delighted when I realised my Dad is not a stone’s throw away from Joyce’s Father’s grave.
When we were ready to leave my youngest asked if he could be buried there, among the great and the ordinary and most importantly his Granddad!
We left Glasnevin loaded down with books and I realised anew what an empty experience visiting a grave is. As I sat in the car heading into the city I thought about Dad’s wish to be cremated, his wish that his family, my mum, my sister and I would not stand around an open grave. His belief that you hold those you love in your heart and mind, easily visited at anytime of the day or night.
He was right. I feel nearer to my Dad in my kitchen as I cook or bake. These are things I loved to watch him do. I feel closer to him on a windy beach or on an open road with the radio blaring…because I am reminded of our round trips and our camping expeditions and singing loudly as we travelled the highways and byways of this lovely country. I am so grateful that I had such a wise young man as my father and thankful that in his wisdom he never placed any guilt on our young shoulders to maintain and keep a grave. A monument to the past.
We never got to look around the museum properly as we were concious that the time for the concert was drawing near. Another day.
And then we were there! We were sitting in Croke Park. The excitement was palpable and while our eldest was way to cool to show it, myself and the youngest were absolutely dying for The Script to get out onto the stage and sing their hearts out.
We were definitely not disappointed. They rocked Croke Park, from beginning to end. The set was a mix of old and new. We danced, sang our hearts out, had sore hands from clapping along and yes I cried. I know, my poor kids!
I had a lump in my throat as the first few bars of If You Could See Me Now floated out over the crowd, the tears where making steady paths down my face as the song came to a close. I could feel two small hands pat me gently on the back and knew I’d been rumbled.
We don’t remember the walk back to the car, we were still on a high. We sang, laughed and spoke about what a great show the lads put on. We debated the merits of the support acts, if we really liked them or not and why. We made lovely memories.
Trip two to the hallowed ground of Croke Park was on August 15th to watch my youngest play hurling at half time during the Waterford v Kilkenny hurling semi final. He was fortunate enough to be part of the Cumann na mBunscol/I.N.T.O Respect Exhibition Go Games. What a fantastic day that was. If you have followed the blog for a while you may know that I am not in the slight bit interested in sport, especially anything GAA related!
However I have a very different view of the game after seeing the skill and effort the players put into it. I have the utmost respect for all involved in making the day special for the kids who took part in the exhibition game, it was so organised and ran without a hitch. It’s not everyday that you get to play on Croke Park. Another fantastic day out and the conversation in the car on the journey home flowed. More memories made.
A snap shot of some of the highlights of summer 2015, granted you got a glimpse of two of the most exciting days of the summer and the sun shone on both.
What about your exploration into stoicism I hear you ask. After a bit of a wobble I’m back on track. Acceptance, self control are back in use. I’m feeling much better for it however I am not as productive as I had hoped to be. Maybe it’s the mad back to school rush, I was beginning to panic but decided panic was futile! I’ll enjoy the last full week of the holidays and take each day as I find it.
I’ve had to include a vegetarian option in the menu here at Crabtree Cottage and it’s much easier than I had anticipated. We’re all benefiting from fresh produce cooked in exciting and tastey new ways. I had always hated the idea of a vegetarian getting a plate of spuds and whatever veg was going when they sat down to dinner. We’re eating a variety of beans and pulses and sure the herb and spices drawer is seeing more action than ever before.
I hope you are all enjoying what’s left of summer, it won’t be long until we’ve the curtains drawn and the fires lit.
What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. ~John Steinbeck
Thanks for stopping by and reading,
Slán agus beannacht,