West of the Old River Shannon

West of the Old River Shannon

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West of the Old River Shannon

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‘So come all together now sing with me,

The glory and fame of the West Country.

And all together again may we be,

West of the old River Shannon’.

For an insight into my roots I will begin with a little personal history. It is hard to believe that Martin and I were neighbours, living only about 100 yards from each other, but we hardly knew of each other’s existence during our childhood. I knew his sister Mary a little, we played the occasional game, but I was not aware of the rest of the family, and this great brother she had. It was a mutual friend living between our two homes who introduced us. This unawareness could never happen here in the country where everybody knows everybody else for miles.

Martin’s parents were also neighbours living in Cluide, Corrandulla and they moved to Dublin after their marriage. My parents came from Frenchpark / Ballaghadereen, Co. Roscommon and they also moved to Dublin after their marriage. As you can see, we are both from a similar background but Martin always claims he is from Galway. He spent all his school holidays in Galway and so feels entitled to claim Galway heritage. I, on the other hand, after being born and reared in Dublin feel I am a “Dub”.

It is almost eight years since I left “the town I loved so well”. After living for a period of three years in a little village called Kilsheelan in Clonmel, I had a little insight into country life. As both parents are from the West, I think it was inevitable that if we were to settle outside Dublin, it had to be West of the Shannon.

As a parent my whole life centres around my children and they are very happy here in Cahertymore. They enjoy the space the country affords them, and of course nature is very close, with the animals and all the chores associated with farming—hay making, turf saving, potato picking etc.

As I write this it is the lambing season, and there is great excitement going to and from school. Our neighbours Gills, Rabbitts and Coens all have beautiful new arrivals, and the children monitor their progress daily.

Paddy Fahy’s geese have given my children great joy. They were our first visitors, it is such a change to wake up and find geese in your back garden. Looking out our front window we can see Gill’s sheep. This replaces the rows of houses, cars, buses etc. of city life.

The only drawback I feel at the moment, is the relationship I would have wished between the children and their grannies, grandads, aunts, uncles and cousins, in other words the blood connection. It’s harder to develop this bond because of living so far apart, but we try to visit each other as often as possible. I feel very strong about this, as family is so important, and if there is one big thing missing for me it certainly is my family and the security of having them around. It’s easy to fly away, but it’s hard to really leave the nest. Martin has some aunts, uncles and a sister and her family living here in Galway but most of our relations are living in Dublin.

I must say that I have found the Galway people very helpful and friendly and always willing to make me feel at home. The children were not living here long when they were invited to birthday parties and that made them feel accepted and welcomed and it certainly played a part in helping them to integrate.

My children would not move back to Dublin now. Martin has his life long wish and I am very happy and contented in my new surroundings. Well, there are still some things I miss, like public transport, street lights, footpaths etc. but one can survive without them.

Weighing up the pros and cons it is my opinion that we made a good decision coming here to Cahertymore and it’s a really great place for rearing children.

I must finish by thanking the editor for giving me the opportunity to air my views and also for the warm reception that he and his amicable staff gave us on our arrival at Carnaun National School. Also, the neighbours who have shown such kindness and consideration on the wet cold days for bringing our children to school. It is much appreciated.

Here’s wishing everybody a happy Centenary celebration.

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Written by Rita Burke

Published here 05 Feb 2021

Page 225 of The Carnaun Centenary Book

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