29 January 2017
Such wonderful stories I read! Anyone have an ancestor named James Duffey b.1723 with a son Michael Duffey b. 1753 More > (0 comments)
29 January 2017
First Published in The Dundalk Democrat in 2009
An open letter to the villagers of Carlingford.
Forty six years ago on October 8th 1963 my mother held me in her arms as I took my first breath and came into this world. Last Thursday on October the 8th 2009 I held my mother in my arms as she took her last breath and left this world. It was a birthday I will never forget.
Johanna McCartney’s funeral was held last Saturday October 10th in Carlingford and as I walked through the ancient streets with my mother’s coffin on my shoulder, my aunt from America said to me, “when I die, I want to die in Ireland.”
With the Cooley mountains to my right and Carlingford Lough to my left, we walked past Saint John’s castle. I couldn’t help but wonder how many times since the Norman knight John De Courcy established Carlingford in 1184, had this scene been repeated. It felt good to walk in the footsteps of ancient Irish history. Comforting.
We stopped for a moment of pause outside the restaurant and bed and breakfast business my mother built and still owns. Originally called Captain Corelli’s and now known as The Baytree, it was a big achievement for her.
Johanna McCartney first came to Carlingford from Belfast in the early 1990’s. At the time she was a grieving widow getting over the death of my father Valentine who died from asbestosis. She was looking for a new life and a new start.
We knew the area well as we had holidayed for years in an old stone cottage at the River’s Foot in Gyles Quay. The Cooley Peninsula always held a special place for our family and it was fitting that my mom moved there to start afresh.
It’s often said that Irish villages treat newcomers with reserve and call them ‘blow-ins.’ In Carlingford this was not the case. The villagers treated my mom as one of their own and the feeling was mutual.
Seven years ago my mother suffered a stroke that robbed her of some of her independence. Not to be beaten, she relied on the telephone to communicate with the world. It was common for me to take ten phone calls a day from her.
My mother’s wake lasted for two days. A steady stream of villagers came to the house and I wish I had a Euro for every time I heard them say, “she was quite a character.”
I only found out during the wake that her friends and neighbours in Carlingford were also being telephoned ten times a day. They took her calls with a big heart and with no complaint. The villagers of Carlingford give more than they take. She’s gone now and I wish the phone would ring. Telecom Eireann will miss her.
I want to thank everyone in Carlingford for the love and support they showed my mom and my family. It’s a beautiful village with a community that should be proud of their ability to offer friendship to others.
My mom was glamorous. A go getter. A good listener who made you feel you were the only person in the room. She didn’t hide in the shadows. She was proud of Carlingford and did all she could to make the village blossom. They have lost a rose but gained a memory of a wonderful person.
May she rest in peace. She was a class act.
From her loving son Michael.
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