Sunday, 14 December 2014

Ireland 2014: Family Lore

When my aunt Mary was born there was serious concern that she would not make it and it was decided that she needed to be baptised as soon as possible so she wouldn't die with original sin on her. Priorities!

Someone was sent to collect my granddad from the pub - this was 1933 rural Ireland after all, men didn't stick around for the birth - and told him to collect the priest and a godfather. He asked his drinking buddy at the pub if he'd be willing to be the godfather, his drinking buddy said 'sure', and that is how Patrick Kavanagh became my aunt's godfather.

At least, that's how my dad tells the story.

I'm sure this is a shock to none of you, but the Irish do have a habit of improving stories. In fact, some might accuse them of making up half the stories they tell. Which is why I don't know exactly what is and isn't true about this story. Patrick Kavanagh being Mary's godfather, however, is true. (Mary being on death's door is also true. Her ability to cheat death is renowned in the family.)

Still, it has always left my dad with a soft spot for Patrick Kavanagh. Not only is Patrick Kavanagh a well-known (in Ireland) poet, but he's from Co. Monaghan! Patrick Kavanagh later settled permanently in Dublin to help his writing career where, as the story goes, he met a young up-and-coming folk group called the Dubliners and they discussed putting his poem Dark Haired Mariam Ran Away to music. One of the members of the band, a fabulous balladeer called Luke Kelly, suggest instead that it be set to an old Irish tune, Fáinne Geal an Lae (Dawning of the Day in English).

What does all this have to do with  my trip to Ireland?

Well, On Raglan Road is one of those songs that I always find myself humming. If we ever drink together, there is a good chance I will sing it for you. It's not my only party piece, but it's my most consistent party piece.

I knew that Conor's place was close to Raglan Road, but I didn't realise how close it was until we were walking home from town after Croke Park. We turned south too soon and had to cut across to get on the correct road when I saw the sign for Raglan Road. I squealed and did my happy dance as I pointed at the sign to Katie. And then I made her take a picture.

I know I've already shared this picture but I was just that excited about this. This moment was almost better than the rainbow at Slieve League.


  1. From now on I want to read all your Ireland posts with this song as a background - it made this particular post all the more lovely!

    Feliz Navidad, Andrea! And all the best to you and yours!

    1. It does help that it's also a pretty song :)

      Nollaig Shona to you and yours! Obviously, I didn't make it over to Van before Christmas but hopefully I'll be over some time in the new year.

  2. I have a similar family story about my grandmother! No amazingly talented godfather though. What a great history to share and I'm sure every word of it is true. Gods honest truth. ;)

    1. I've always enjoyed the family stories, true or not, I just wish I had thought to write them down when grandparents were still around to share and confirm them!

      Thanks for stopping by :)