Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Jolly old Ireland....not!

A beautiful spring walk the weekend before last. View from Shatton towards Hathersage.

I love it when the grass starts to green up.

Note Minty to my left and an apparently empty lane.

Aaah, not so empty - what will the former wanabee sheep chaser do when faced with one in a confined area??

Well, nothing actually! They stood nose to nose for ages but neither budged or did anything aggressive and then Minty got bored (or scared) and wandered off and the sheep looked very pleased with itself!

Well, excuse the long gap but we've just returned from an unscheduled long weekend in Ireland. We went back for a funeral, the father of D's closest childhood friend and a very close friend of D's parents. I know him reasonably well in that way you do - he's at all the major events, dancing at weddings, singing at parties etc. A real shame to think that he's gone now and so young (just 70) and so suddenly.

It was a monster funeral. I have never experienced anything like it. In the nearly 20 years I've known D, I've not been to an Irish funeral so had only my cliched ideas to fall back on. Well, it was nothing like that! For a start, there was no booze as Billy (who died) and Ita were Pioneers (ie. lifelong non-drinkers who took the pledge and stuck to it). And it was massive - the wake lasted 2 days and during that time I think half the County must have visited the house to pay their respects. A constant stream of people served by endless women with tea, sandwiches and cakes.

My mother-in-law was one of the troops and she said they had prepared 50 loaves of sandwiches and that doesn't count the endless tray of other stuff brought by everyone else.

Then there were the neighbourhood men standing outside in the biting cold and wind directing traffic and helping people to park. Not just for a hour or so but for a day and an evening. Amazing.

And then there was Billy himself. There, in the house, in a bed in the parlour to be exact with crowds of people around him praying and chatting in equal measures. The tradition of the deceased lying out in the house has died out over here for a long time (I think) but it's going strong in Ireland. It was a bit macabre to me but no-one else seemed to find it so so what do I know. Even the grandkids seemed happy enough with it.

And the sheer numbers! There were between 400 and 500 people to the "Removal" service on the Friday night which is when Billy was taken into the church the night before the funeral. And there must have been heading for 1000 at the funeral itself on the Saturday. Only 400 or so could cram into the church so the rest stood outseide in the yard in the cold wind and then crowded round the graveside and then crammed back into the village hall for a catered lunch.

It was truly awesome to be honest.

The service was beautiful with all his family taking part either in making music (they're very gifted that way) or reading or giving a eulogy. He was a prominent and solid sort of guy who owned a local shoe shop and who was into drama, local Gaelic sports and the church (especially volunteering to help pilgrims to Lourdes) so that is probably why so many came. The Lourdes thing also explains the number of priests! I counted over 20! Including the local Cannon and the Bishop.

Anyway, I don't know what point I'm making apart from getting it all down as it was quite an experience.

It made me think about what I leave behind me and what is important to me (not having 20 priest floating around at my funeral I can tell you!). It also made me think about my parents and vow to talk to them more and enjoy the fact that they're still with me even though they're both heading for 80 now.

I'll do a more coherent post later, I promise but, for now, that's all folks!!!


Peridot said...

Wow - that sounds like quite an experience. It's not like anything I've ever known.

Loved the sheep vs Minty encounter!

Btw - I'm a coward about cycling too! Eeek!

Peridot x

Mrs said...

What an experience. Sympathies to D for losing someone so special.

Glad you could take something positive from the experience.

How are things otherwise??

Let's have some news, Mrs D! Some news!

Big kiss.

Mrs Lxxxxxxxxxxx

Mrs said...

Where are you?!


Claire said...

You ok? Very quiet...

Claire x