It is 1934, Alec now 65, has returned to Boggaun after the death of his wife Margaret six years previous. He has spent the ten years of his married life at Corballis, Donore in Co Meath farming beside his brother John. Mary Jane, his older sister is 70 years old. At Boggaun his brother Richard, aged 52, and Annie have eight children (Herbie, Reco, Ena, Cecil, Phyliss, Wallace, Alf and Jack, ages ranging from 19 to 2 years) The collapse of the cattle business some ten years ago still impacts on the family. Richard continues to pay off the debts as the bank attempts to sell the farm. This is part Alec’s imagined story, in two parts.
When I got back here it was almost settled between them – Mary Jane and Annie – they would sit side by side in the trap going off to church of a Sunday morning, like they were the best of friends. I’d been back a good few times and I knew what was going on between them. I tried to talk to Mary Jane, but it did no good. If ye ask me, the both of them, too serious, nera laugh or soft smile between them.
One of the McGoeys on the Rock was working here one summer. He told me that Mary Jane in the heat of a row would hurl her worst at Annie – Twas my mistake to let ye in atall! I had to put my head down and clear off manys a time, he said to me.
But if Mary Jane could be a bit rough, she was a rock here over the years. She helped rear many of our younger ones including Richard, had some of them reading before they went to school. As Mammy got older, she took over the running of the house. When Mammy died and then Daddy all of a sudden, well, it was hers. Until almost ten years later Annie arrives.
I had a new start in Meath, one I never thought I would have. Not long after I married Margaret, we discovered that she had some sort of sickness. We were extending the house then and farming all the while, and with John’s help we were going along fairly well. Margaret was a fighter, but no one could tell us what was the matter, and she struggled on for a few more years. The poor cratur went very quick in the end. Her sister living beside us was a great comfort to her. We had a few good years together at Corballis and travelled to places I only read about, Dublin and down as far as Arklow in Wicklow.
But when I look back on it, I didn’t quite find my place there. Maybe I was too old when I got married, as many joked to me. Oh, Margaret and I were happy, we were comfortable enough. But I missed Boggaun, the welcoming neighbours and hills around me. I didn’t travel so much about the unfamiliar townlands in Meath. I never said anything to Margaret, but her sister Maria knew. She said to me one time that I was too set in my ways when I came to Corballis. We buried poor Margaret with her mother beyond in Duleek. Meath seems another life to me now.
Arragh what are we at all? Different lives in different places and we all end in the graveyard. And if not in the same graveyard, we’re facing the same way. God only knows the reason for it all. I’m sure I don’t.
Well I knew it was a bad situation here at Boggaun and when my affairs were tidied up at Corballis, I came back, left what I could to John and Maria, they were very good to us.
Poor Richard and Boggaun, ruined by the blaggard, took all we had worked for, our own kind too, God blast him. Put us back fifty year. Arragh, in spite of it all, I was glad to be back and helpin out, among the small army of childer around me. And I was soon back in my old ways. The friends and neighbours hadn’t changed too much, I got a great welcome home.
Continues in Part 2
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