Today is not Father’s Day, but I always think of my father at Easter. He hated Father’s Day with a particularly venomous passion anyway, just like he hated any crap Hallmark holiday manufactured to make people buy stupid cards and pretend we’re all happy as Larry. My father was not Larry. He was an artist, and a flawed romantic. He could make really excellent case for being a witty, boozy, happy go lucky raconteur, and a lot of the time that’s what he was, too.
He was a deeply sentimental man at times as well, who loved dogs and cats and old movies – and he was madly and utterly in love with my mother all his life. But it was the spaces in between, sometimes pretty dark, that made him both interesting, heart breaking and a man who ended up that figure that Joni Mitchell described so well when she wrote, “all romantics meet the same fate … “
I think of him at Easter because potentially, it’s an opportunity to have one of those “Happy Family” occasions, although in our house certainly not much to do with Jesus, whom my father had interesting respect for, despite hating the Catholic church. Easter 2003 I was studying in NUIG, and instead of joining my parents for Sunday dinner, I chose to stay down in Galway and study. Whatever. Eight days later my father was dead, and so while we probably wouldn’t have had a Hallmark Easter holiday, we might have shared a drink for the road … (more…)
The Irish 1916 Rising, with its centenary coming up next year, is all over the place today, Easter Monday, anniversary of the rebellion in Easter, 1916 the consequences of which (to cut a long story short) resulted in the end of British Colonial rule in the majority of the country, and the establishment of the Republic of Ireland. I’ll be heading into the centre of town,where they have re-created Dublin in 1915 for the day – should prove interesting.
My own family’s Rebellion hero – although not a great national hero like many – is an interesting man by all accounts – one JJ or Jimmie Mulkerns. He was a strolling player and aspiring actor at the time of the rising, and who also worked on the Great Western Railway. Family lore has it that he stopped the train he was driving from the West in the middle of Athlone bridge in order to stop troops being transported to Dublin to quash the event, subsequently hopping in a vehicle that was going to Dublin so he could participate in the rebellion.
That may well be third-generation family legend, perhaps, so I’m standing by for various family members – or anybody else – to correct me on this, if you have facts. But there is one fantastic story you won’t read anywhere else, originally published in 1997 in “The Irish Echo” – around the time that Neil Jordan’s film, “Michael Collins” was released. Family lore or not, a lot of it seems to add up – it solves an old Hollywood mystery, and it certainly makes a great yarn.
To read, What Did you do in the War, Grandpa? which first appeared in New York’s Irish Echo newspaper, click on the image at the right, or here. A downloadable PDF of the piece’s full text, for easier reading, will be available later today.