Sunday, 17 August 2014
My blog name was chosen to reflect subtly my own personal interests, taste and sense of place. The 'linnet' part was taken from a character in one of my favourite children's book series, Linnet Oldknowe. Linnet in 'The Children of Green Knowe (by L.M. Boston) is both the Great-Grandmother, a woman full of vitality despite or perhaps because of her age and little mischievous Linnet, the ghostly child that plays with and teases Tolly, the great-grandson that comes to live in his ancient magical ancestral home.
Linnet also refers back to the line 'she sang each note like an Irish linnet' in the traditional Irish song 'The Galway Shawl'. This song has followed me around most of my adult life and has an association with wonderful memories of listening to Irish music in my Grandmothers house in Co Antrim; also in the beautiful Tomney's bar in Moy Co Tyrone where my Grandfather hailed from and also from when myself and Mr S took our first real holiday together traveling around Co Galway.
The Oriel part originated from a tribute I wanted to pay to my adopted county and a place where I have been content to lay my hat and bring up my children. I had many posts planned, bringing to you the gorgeous scenery, the charming people of and the amazing history of the 'wee' county, Co Louth. My adopted town, Drogheda was founded originally as two separate towns 'Drogheda-in-Meath' on the south bank of the river Boyne (charter granted in 1194) and 'Drogheda-in-Oriel' (charter granted in 1229) on the northern Louth side of the river.
Last Friday however brought events to my own front door that have been profoundly shocking and laid bare our vulnerability. Here can be seen the raw violence of strangers and the darkness of humanity that lingers in every place, at the periphery of life ready to engulf and shatter ordinary lives without regard for all that is precious. Yet it has to be recorded that even here, we experience the brave heroism and little acts of kindness that imprint life with joy and hope. However, last Friday night, some one attacked my neighbours home and maliciously set fire to the house in which a wheelchair dependant woman was asleep alone.
Cosy and warm in my bed, I initially thought the bang and shouts were the antics of Friday night revellers but awaked by the cries of Fire, I rushed to grab my sleeping children and ran from my home. You know those questions that ask what would you save? What book? What treasured photograph? Which sentimental attachment? It doesn't matter. You would let it all go in those first minutes of flight. Once the kids and Mr S. were safe I did go back for my dog, the golden girl who firmly believes that all humanity is good and requires her closeness of dogged love.
As my neighbour fights for her life in the hospital, I want to close down and retreat back into my home. To hold my children close and to keep them closer, I want to warn them of the darkness of the shadows, the dangers, the weirdoes, the bastards. What if? What if no one had seen the flames until it was too late? What if the smoke had travelled through the gaps in the terrace, the gaps that our surveyor noticed six years ago and we have not acted on? I won't shut down though. I will teach my children that life is a celebration, to rush at it with joy and openness. To embrace everyone they meet with sincere honesty and integrity, peppered with a healthy dose of street-wise cynicism. To attack every challenge with energetic vitality and intelligence. To be a parent is to know what real visceral fear is, yet to hold that fear for them and let them go bravely and freely out into the world.
Thank-you to the as yet un-identified man who rushed into the burning house and pulled Mrs B free.
Thank-you to my neighbour N whose kindness alleviated much of the trauma that my kids could have experienced that night.
Thank-you to my friend L. whose simple telephone call meant so much.