Fridays were ‘Something Nice Day’ in my house when I was a kid…that was the day my Dad came home from Belfast. We lived in Dublin..he worked in Belfast. Something Nice Day meant he would bring us chocolate we couldn’t get in Dublin. Cadbury’s Freddy the Frog was my favourite…
On Monday mornings we dropped Dad to Glenageary train station….for years I thought Glenageary train Station was Belfast. Because that’s where we left him…on a Monday morning early.
My Mum must have struggled in those days…some weekends he would be very delayed returning home because there was a bomb on the trainline…but there were no mobile phones and no guarantee he was safe until he put the key in the lock of our home..
I remember visiting him up there and I remember being told to keep quiet at the border as we drove back. I always thought that was because of the chocolate I bought in Woolworths, but I think really it was the flour my mum bought up North for her amazing soda bread :)
My older brother was born in Belfast. I nearly grew up there.
Dad got a job in Dublin and I grew up in Dublin instead.
I grew up with the North as much a part of my life as the South even though I was raised in Dublin. When I went to university all of my best friends came from the North of Ireland (all from the Protestant tradition despite me being a Southern Gaelgeoir). We all knew that none of it mattered and we all were grateful for the Good Friday Agreement and peace.
My friend Claire’s Dad, Roy, died on Monday in County Tyrone. A farmer, and a member of the Orange Order, one would think him and I would have little to chat about, what with an Irish difficult name and my vegetarianism..what could we have in common? It is true that we didn’t have much in common but his family buried him today and I was there with them…to them I am simply Cuives (as Claire has always spelled it), I am a friend of the family. Neither my birth place , nor my birth religion was ever of any importance.
That’s friendship, that’s family, and that’s Ireland. Brexit has no right to jeopardise this.