For breakfast this morning I took a roll and sausage with the eldest of the sons. He explained his anguish after a recent chance meeting in a bar with a young fella by the name of McDonough who had asked him the history of our own family name. The son was both saddened yet indignant as we sat and drank the breakfast tea as he began to tell me of the mans questions about me and the story of his own oul fella and his McDonough name. It stirred a momentary glow of bitter hatred within me, of which I have long since tried to put aside. I no longer look in the mirror and see a resentful man. These days I prefer peace to fragmented bone. But auld wounds still run as deep as the scars that forever line my face to remind me of what I once was. I reminded him of the blog entry below I revealed some years ago, of which some of you may remember.
McDonough was his name, but he also masqueraded under the name of Flanagan to be
associated with the heroes of an earlier time. A big man he was, both in name
and of stature. He had the most determined of walks, and would make a show of
the defiance by way of his stride. No working man on the docks of Glasgow
had time for Flanagan. Not even when he was in the company of money and the
drink was about him. A protestant man he was, and loud with it, although his chest bore
no symbols of Ulster or the red hand. When he took to striding down the dock at
the back of two, many a man would tremble behind his piece and cheese and tremble the jar
of the warm Barry tea.
“Move that feckin jay-ket, can you’se no see that
ah’m an important man in need of a seat?” he would cry.
If the owner of
the coat was slow to move, Flanagan would reach down and toss it into the waters
murky depths out of sheer spite.
“You’ll no need to be telt the twice
again!” he would proclaim to all those before him.
Many eyes would flash
with the anger of it all, but Flanagan was a union man and no to be crossed by
those who relied on the Friday shilling to keep their families warm. It
was the Saturday after the funeral of the first born son, which saw my faither
sitting alone on the bitterly cold dock with his auld mash of tea by his side. A
small space had been cleared by the men, who although they could not utter the
soft words of comfort to a bereaved man of Glasgow, could muster a show of
respect by leaving him be. It was then that Flanagan chose to make his
imposing entrance. He stood in front of the faither and pointed at the
small brown keepsake of a shoe fae the boy who had been lost to the terrible
cough. It was his only remembrance of such a wee life taken so young.
or fish it back oot” came Flanagan’s harrying cry. “Whit is it, a wee dolly
shoe eh?” said the man who had little thought for anyone but his self.
faither rose, the great bull of a man that he was, the look of the divil
came about his face as he stood square before him, a great blackness reaching out fae his eyes as
he gripped the protestant man firmly by his coat.
“I pity you
Flanagan” said the faither. "The very inside of you is cold, and you will never
feel the love or the warmth of childer. My first born is only just laid to rest,
and yet the love he leaves inside of my soul will always stay with
me. You have no one, and will always remain an empty shell of a man to
the end. Turn away and be gone, take this heed and wear it well, for I cannae
guarantee what the rage will do to a dog such as you.”
But McDonough who
was also Flanagan, did not heed the warning of my faither and was brutally
pitched over the side by the very same men who could no find the words for a
bereaved man of the docks. Let no talk of religion, nor the softness of
words stand between men born of poverty and Glasgow’s proud men of the
shipyards. No a word was said between the two for more than the passing of
ten years, until the morning Flanagan was cold and present at his own
wake. It was a sparse congregation that stood and watched my faither
enter the protestant kirk and approach the man who could find no happiness even under two
“Now I can finally forgive you” said the faither, as he placed a
blackened and torn welder’s glove atop the casket lid. “Now you fully understand
the pain of loss, but sadly it is your own. Pray that no man will ever ask you
to move this glove.”
His words were vague to those few who stood before the
casket, but some eyes smiled. There were those in attendance who remembered back
to that bitterly cold day on the dock.
No recipes this day from masel. Instead, I journey spiritually to the place where my oul fella now lays. I like to believe that he made me and the sons the men we are this day. For you da, the very words you used to sing when we were all feart back when men died of the poverty, drink and the blackness of their own sin.
Dreaming in the night,
I saw a land where no-one had to fight,
Waking in your dawn,
I saw you crying in the morning light,
sleeping where the falcons fly,
They twist and turn all in your air-blue sky,
Living on your western shore,
Saw summer sunsets, I asked for more,
I stood by your Atlantic sea,
And I sang a song for Ireland