Wallace and Rita

Rita Mulvey (nee Keher) was left with two children, Eleanor and Jim and two stepchildren when her husband Garda William Mulvey died in 1952. They lived in Garda accommodation on Boley Hill in Manorhamilton. Rita, from Manulla in Mayo met Wallace and they fell in love, and shortly afterwards decided to get married.

Wallace and Rita circa 1954

Wallace was about to strike out on his own path again, but this time there would be a life-changing collision with his parents.  

Rita and Wallace were married by Fr. Young in a small church beside the Creevelea parochial house. This was originally a Protestant church built in the 1850s by the Scottish operators of the local ironworks. All the requirements of the Ne Temere decree were met, solemn promises willingly given as Wallace converted and became a Catholic. There were few present, any of Wallace’s siblings would have attended under severe threat.  

Maybe the split with his family had been coming for years or perhaps it was his mother’s opposition to the marriage, seemingly absolute and final. I have little sense of their leaving Manorhamilton: the turmoil, the anxiety of moving the young family to a strange city, Rita leaving a stepson and daughter behind. Who saw them off? Who wished them well? Who would missed them?

In my Grandmother’s old bible there was a Happy Birthday Card from Wallace, Rita and his family in Stockport, kept perhaps as a connection to her son, a hope of reconciliation.

Eleanor and Jim Mulvey with Julie, Margaret and Sean circa 1965

One summer years later Wallace was back in Leitrim with his family, they stopped into a local hostelry in Manorhamilton for some sustenance. Discovering who the party was a musician in the bar at the time, took up guitar and sang a song for them which included the lyrics:

“The night was so windy,

the road was so far,

sure we’ll call Wally Davis,

for he has a new car.”

I met Wallace about 1995 when he had bought an end of terrace house in Tobercurry in Co Sligo. He lived a bachelor-life there and was well known around the town. At a family event shortly afterwards it was suggested to him that he might have been a bit of a wild lad in his youth.  He drew himself up to his full height and with a devilish smile replied

“In my youth?”

ENDS

Notes

Leitrim’s Republican Story 1900-2000, by Cormac O Suilleabhain, 2014. A definitive well researched publication on the republican campaign in Leitrim including the impact on and involvement of the Protestant community. See Page 173 for reference to Michael Sheridan’s internment.

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