THIS PHOTO OF MY MOTHER IS SO LIKE MY DAUGHTER, EVIE—AT A COMPARABLE AGE—IT IS REMARKABLE
My much loved sister Lucy keeps on pulling family photos out her mysterious horde—which begs the question as to where they are coming from. I thought I had the main repository—and mine are all in store. Yet Lucy keeps on issuing such photos on Facebook. Time for me to ask, I suspect. Either way, I’m delighted. I had thought some of these were lost.
My mother—an only child—was brought up in Newtown House, Termonfeckin, Co. Loth, Ireland—a place large enough to be an institution. It now is one—and has been so for many decades. It is the headquarters of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, and seems to be mainly used as a training center. It is now called An Grianan.
An Grianan Adult Education Center (Termonfeckin (Tearmann Feichín))
The ICA purchased what was then known as Newtown House, in trust for the benefit of the people of Ireland. In October 1954 An Grianán was officially opened by the then President of Ireland, Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly. It is now open all year for a wide range of Adult education classes. Open to pubic for visitors. Garden center open.
My mother was educated by French governesses up to her mid teens. My much loved grandmother meant well—such an upbringing was the norm in her privileged world—but the results were disastrous. My mother felt oppressed by the governesses, missed the companionship of other children, and eventually rebelled completely.
When she was old enough, and WW II broke out, she took off for London and enlisted in the WAAF as a radar operator—and otherwise had what they call “a good war.” Men and women lived as if there was no tomorrow, because all too often, there wasn’t. Civilians died in their tens of thousands in the Blitz. Soldiers, sailors and airman died wherever they were sent. It wasn’t called a World War for nothing. They died throughout the globe. Meanwhile, when on leave, they did what young and frightened people do. They threw caution to the winds and sought comfort in each other’s arms.
I was one of the results. I, too, rebelled. It seems to be something of a family tradition. Children are one of life’s greatest pleasures—and worth every second of dedication—but difficult. And they don’t remain children. Such is the nature of the human condition. I don’t expect it to change.