Saturday, March 17, 2012

"When I die Dublin will be written in my heart." ~ James Joyce

I'm not sure what music other families were listening to in the early 60's, but in my home it was  The Clancy Brothers.  My father is a retired English professor with a specialty in Irish literature - we listened, and sang, and danced to the music of the Clancy Brothers - all over the living-room.  I still know most (well, many) of their songs by heart. My family will not be in the least bit surprised to see the clip that I have chosen to share with you!

When I was 9, our family lived in Ireland, outside of Dublin, for many, many months while my father was on sabbatical from his teaching position.  I was just old enough that I remember a lot of our time there.  We did go back when I was 16 - that's a whole other story - and I went back again as a young adult with a former college roommate - that too is another story!

Boarding the plane in Syracuse in 1965 to head to NYC and then on to Ireland.
They are the childhood memories that I share today.

~ 17 Callary Road, Mount Merrion - our address and the home where we lived.  Coal fire places - which we used.  The coal room was off of the kitchen, and was also where my mother deposited shillings in a little slot in order to get the gas running for the stove.  We all had hot water bottles and I remember occasionally going to sleep with the glow of softly burning coals in the fireplace in my bedroom.  

~ Neighbors and lifelong family friends.  The Grant family lived across the street from us.  Parents, children (lots of girls - yay for us) and Granny Grant.  Over the decades the Grants have remained close friends - who knew that 47 years later that would be the case?  Felicity was (is) closest in age to me, and we spent many hours back and forth between our two homes. Various members of the Grant and Rhodes families have travelled across the Atlantic over the years to enjoy each other's company and reminisce about those early days.

Felicity in the center with her parents, Hilda and Harry Grant
And then -  the Burgess family right next-door to the Grants.  I remember that we all gathered there to watch the final episode of "The Fugitive".  Mairead Burgess was friends with my younger sisters, Alison and Robin.  Robin declared early on that if she ever had a girl, she would name her Mairead.  Robin's Mairead will be married in September.

~ Our backyard - we discovered stone steps going up the small back hill of the garden which were covered in moss - I was pretty obsessed with "fairies" (there were "fairy rings" in the woods not far from us) and I loved the whole "secret garden" feel of those moss covered steps.

~ TV - didn't come on till around 5:00 in the afternoon - I remember watching F- Troop and Julia Child, whom we girls referred to as the "Pitza Lady" because of her pronunciation of "pizza".

~ Tinkers - Yes, I really do remember Tinkers camping at the base of the hill at the end of our street, and I remember seeing their colorful wagons as we traveled about the country.

~ Going to school at Muckross, where I was in Third Form (as opposed to 4th grade).  Muckross was a convent school and my classroom was in a small, single-roomed  building set in a garden.  We had a coal burning stove for heat.  All of my teachers were nuns, and I had to memorize a poem every night (at least that's how I remember it).  Older students had to go to school on Saturday mornings - I could hardly believe it!  I wore a uniform, and caught hell if I forgot to wear my beret.  If I had any truly unhappy moments there - I don't remember them.  Happy memories ~ ~  but I do remember having to memorize a lot of stuff - like -  really memorize!   And how many 9 year-olds can say that they rode a double-decker bus home from school everyday!

There are many other memories, of course, but these are the ones that stick clearly in my mind, without having to ask my parents to fill in the blanks.  They are wonderful memories, and I'm so grateful to have them.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


  1. Wow, you lucky girl (well except the memorizing part. I would never have made it). What a dream to live in Ireland and to still have those friendships. You are blessed. Clarice

    1. Thank you Clarice - I think that I'm beginning to realize just how lucky I have been!

  2. You are full of surprises Tracy! I soaked up every word of this beautiful post. I second Clarice - you really are blessed. xo