I have so much to blog about not least the journey to our current home in Donegal, Ireland (such a nightmare, but also funny if you have a sense of humour). But first I want to write about my dad, who was a big factor in how we ended up living in Ireland.
It’s taken me a while to write this because I wanted to pay homage to my dad, and every time I thought about what I was going to write my eyes would fill with tears; they are now, but here goes.
My Dad was Patrick Joseph Walsh, you couldn’t get a more Irish name than that! He was a Tipperary man, the youngest of a large Irish family. He lost his mother early when she was sent away due to a sanatorium for mental health issues.
My dad Paddy was a clever man, but education was not an automatic right in the forties in Ireland, and further education was not available to everyone. But despite that my dad won a scholarship to go on to further education, it was a huge prestigious opportunity. Sadly whilst the education was free the uniform and the books needed were not. Despite going cap in hand and asking for help nobody would fund my dad, so terribly disillusioned he left Ireland and set sail for England where he boarded in my nan’s boarding house, met my mum, and the rest they say is history.
When my Irish grandmother (who I never met) was sent away to a sanatorium it was my Auntie Maureen who became my dad’s surrogate mother and so whenever we visited Ireland it was Auntie Maureen that we went to. I still remember today her breakfasts of Irish herby sausages, eggs with the brightest yellow yolks, and her homemade soda bread. Of how she would listen to me (a small gobby child) with a half smile on her face, but she would always listen, a little bemused. Looking back now I realise that perhaps she could see my dad in me, and that is why she always listened. I was always full of ideas, the difference with my dad was that I was more confident than my dad and have always had the ability to not show that I cared what people thought. As I’ve got older I now just don’t care.
Sadly my dad never returned to live in Ireland. My mum wouldn’t go, she wanted to stay with people she knew, no matter how vile some of her family were to her and my dad.
One of my awful, ignorant arrogant uncles would call my dad stupid (let’s not forget he was a ‘Paddy’ after all!) you can probably tell I am not a fan of my mum’s family (with the exception of one aunt). I know now that was insecurity on the uncle’s part, because my dad could see through him, and knew he had more intelligence than the arrogant uncle would ever understand. Ever the ‘quiet man’ my dad said nothing, because he also knew that was the only way to deal with insecure idiots.
Looking back now there was my dad, highly intelligent having to put up with those arseholes, how he must have longed for ‘home’.
So on New Years Eve as the boat was docking in Ireland all those travelling with their dogs were asked to wait on the dog deck, and there we stood with the Welshies, watching as Ireland became a reality. As I stood with RD I could feel a lump rise in my throat and my eyes brimmed with tears, I felt such an overwhelming feeling that I had finally come home. RD looked at me and just got hold of my had, he knew.
It’s hard to explain that feeling, it was so totally unexpected. The last time I visited Ireland was in 1985, when my dad brought us all over for a family holiday. I knew it was beautiful, but I was too young to appreciate just how beautiful it really is.
As I stood on deck I found myself hoping that my dad was standing beside me, with a smile on his face, approving because finally a little piece of him had come home, in me.
This one’s for you Paddy.