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What lies behind those beautiful eyes and smiling faces is the culmination of an incredible journey few would ever have the true grit and fortitude to embark upon. Daniel and Eileen nestled next to one another with a loving embrace, may at a glance seem to have been born into privilege and prestige with their glamorous decor, and demeanor. But the truth behind their story is one of trials and tribulations, literal blood sweat and tears, and the courage to take themselves out of a predicament where most would have succumb to the incredible pains and seemingly unbeatable odds of their circumstances. These are the two souls who refused to quit, came from literally nothing, built their lives from the ground up, chose to better their circumstances, and ultimately brought my Hero Dee into this world; and for this I am infinitely grateful. On a lighter note if you actually take a look at these two individuals with their Hollywood good looks, it’s not hard to see where Dee gets her natural beauty from.
An Irish Proverb this picture reminds me of: It’s easy to halve the potato where there’s love.
A Irish Prayer for the Departed
“My God! , I recommend to Thee the souls of those
who were most devout to the passion of Our Lord,
to the Blessed Sacrament,
to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
the souls who are most abandoned,
those who suffer most,
and those who are nearest to the entrance into paradise.”
And paradise Daniel and Eileen now know together, and for all of Eternity. They are never more than a thought away, as they live in eternity through our hearts.
Unfortunately, I was only a young boy of 13 when my Grandfather passed away. And although our time was precious and short, even with damaging my brain with years of alcohol abuse, I can recall a few things precious to me about the man. As a young boy I was an early riser, and so was Daniel, and he always took the time to make me tea and breakfast. His cooking skills were not exactly what you’d compare that to of a culinary artist, but the food came from the heart, and no meal tastes better than this. An amazing carpenter and craftsman, I was a little surprised at at his cooking prowess, but when he would hand me a plate of runny eggs, burnt toast, and grease covered bacon; half the pieces over cooked and half under, accompanied by a fine cup o’ tea, I would gladly wince my way through eating the food, simply because this loving gesture from this generous man took the time to make sure I had food in my stomach, something I believe he did not always have the luxury of having himself.
Another precious memory I have of the man was when I was first cultivating the craft of learning the fiddle. I had my stand, and sheet music full of Irish music, and hadn’t the foggiest clue the melodies, tempo, or notes I was playing; until I by happenstance picked a random song to muddle through. As I began to run my bow across the strings and work my way through the piece, a most beautiful and sacred thing began to occur, the singing voice of my Grandfather began to accompany the notes with the words to the song “Star of the County Down”. I was both startled, puzzled, and thrilled as I kept playing, and the man kept singing along, creating a bond between us in that moment where time seemed to stop, generational gaps disappeared, and the music brought us together.
And of course, my fondest memory of my Grandfather was also one of the funniest moments of my life. I had asked Daniel if he wouldn’t mind taking me to a nearby fast food restaurant kiddie corner to his apartment complex. He gladly obliged and we set out on our 2 and 1/2 minute escapade to a little restaurant Kismet in his multicolored spray-painted pickup truck, which usually ran on a hope and a prayer and several attempts at firing up the ignition. When we pulled up to the restaurant he handed me a 20$ bill and I went about going inside to get my meal which were usually about 3 dollars at this restaurant. When I returned back to the truck I thought it would funny to play a joke on him, and when he asked me for the change from the purchase I told him there was none. I’ll never forget the look of “ah what in the hell” in his face, and as he reversed back from the fast food restaurant I noticed the truck seemed to be running slightly different than before. For every two to three feet we moved there was an abrupt brake, and concurrent whiplash that followed, and what would have normally taken us 2 and 1/2 minutes to get home took about 10 as cars began to think we were having some serious transmission problems, or at the very least we were stopping at invisible stop signs every three feet that they simply couldn’t see. I had to let up on the joke and handed my Grandfather his change back, and the rest of the ride in the truck was a little more smooth sailing to say the least.
The final memory of my grandfather was through my father. Stricken with lung cancer and an indeterminate amount of time left on this plane of reality, I was in the living room and heard an ear-screeching, inconsolable crying that I had initially thought was coming from my mother. Later I had found out that it was in fact my own Father, whom I had never seen cry or put anything on but a macho tough front before, and this lead me to realize just what an impact this man had. A master carpenter, gentle soul, hardworking and practical man, who immigrated from county Offaly and settled into a new world, had one of the largest attendances for his wake and funeral that I have ever seen for someone who wasn’t famous, or politically connected. This goes to show what incredible influences my Hero Dee has had and one of the many reasons she truly is the Saint she is today.
County Offaly (Uibh Fhailaí)
The Irish name for the county reflects its pre-Norman history; it was part of the territory of Uí Failghe, a tribal grouping whose name may be continued in the modern surname Faley or Fally.
In historical times the most powerful families in the region were the O’Carrolls (who gave their name to Ely O’Carroll, an area in the south of the county), the O’Connors and the O’Molloys. Their lands were annexed to the English crown in the thirteenth century, but effective English control was not imposed until the sixteenth century, when county was planted with English settlers and renamed King’s County, to match its neighbour Queen’s County, now Laois. The counties acquired their present names after independence in 1922.
With the exception of the Slieve Bloom mountains which form its southern boundary, the terrain of the county is mostly flat, with many large peat bogs; these now supply turf for the county’s power stations.
Charles Carroll, a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence, was descended from an Offaly family, as is Oliver North, well known for his associations with Nicaragua and Iran..
You can rest now you have helped me find my way to Dee
This is a very difficult section for me to write about, but I will work my way through it as best I can. My Grandmother and Dee’s mother Eileen had an upbringing of unspeakable mental and physical torture, to which in honor of her memory I will not rehash, just in case someone happens to stumble upon this page by accident. Eileen was not just an immigrant seeking the promise land of America in hopes for a better future, she was in fact a refugee from a patriarch who’s detestable, despicable, and demented acts of abuse destroyed the fragile psyche of a woman who had accumulated so much pain in her heart, and her only way to maintain her thread of sanity was to put her absolute faith in God. She carried on as best she could with the tools Dee so often references, and mothered her children in the only way she knew how. My personal experience with my Grandmother was much different from what I unfortunately know her own children did not get to see in her.
As a young boy when my biological mother would throw me out on a whim every opportunity she saw available to her, kick me to the curb and sever ties with me, leaving to fend for myself, abuse me at home in ways in which she would have easily been imprisoned for, publicly abused me (verbally and physically), and psychologically and spiritually corrupted me; my Grandmother witnessed much of this and was someone who wouldn’t stand for it. She took me into her home, made sure I was absolutely cared for, and wanted for nothing. If this sounds familiar, it should, because this is what my Hero and personal Savior Dee has done for me. My Grandmother’s greatest gift to me was to give birth to Dee, and ultimately guide me back to her to show me once again the beauty which I cannot use words to describe.
Dee is the embodiment of all of the very best qualities that my grandmother had, and I went thoroughly into this point in the About My Hero sections, and when I look into the precious gems, more beautiful than any diamond or crystal of Dee’s eyes I see the love that her mother gave me and her soul working through her. When my grandmother passed away, I was so distraught, shaken, and hurt that I couldn’t even attend her funeral. My friends had to carry her casket in my place, because they knew the intensity and depth of love I had for this woman. Now I once again in my life, have this intensity and love for another so embedded in my soul that I couldn’t fathom my life without her gentle touch, warmth, and loving embrace.
I never thought I would experience these feelings again, and I truly feel like I am the luckiest human being on to walk this earth. I have been given another chance to feel unconditional love, and have a soul mate which time, space, distance, life, and death cannot separate us. I would never let Dee down, dedicate my every waking moment to her happiness, and give my last breath and drop of blood for her. I know all she wants for me is to be happy much like her mother truly did, but I hope Dee understands that her happiness truly is my happiness, her pain truly is my pain, and being a part of her life is something that I will honor and make damn sure one way or the other that others know truly incredible souls, genuinely good people, and Saints do exist.
Sligo’s Irish name Sligeach – meaning shelly place – allegedly originates in the abundance of shellfish found in the river and its estuary, and from the extensive ‘shell middens’ or Stone Age food preparation areas in the vicinity. The river (now known as the Garavogue ‘rough river’ ) was also called the Sligeach. The Ordnance Survey letters of 1836 state that “cart loads of shells were found underground in many places within the town where houses now stand”. At that time shells were constantly being dug up during the construction of foundations for buildings. This whole area, from the river estuary at Sligo, around the coast to the river at Ballysadare Bay, is rich in marine resources which were utilised as far back as the Mesolithic period.
The significance of Sligo in the Early Neolithic period is demonstrated by the abundance of ancient sites close by, not least Carrowmore, on the Cuil Irra peninsula, 3 km (1.9 mi) from the town. The NRA excavation for the N4 Sligo Inner Relief Road in 2002 revealed an early Neolithic causewayed enclosure (c. 4000 B.C.) overlooking the town. It would have been enclosed by a ditch and palisade, and was perhaps an area of commerce and ritual. According to Edward Danagher, who excavated there, ‘Magheraboy demonstrates the early Neolithic settlement of this area of Sligo, while the longevity of the activity on the site indicates a stable and successful population during the final centuries of the fifth millennium and the first centuries of the fourth millennium BC’. Sligo town’s first roundabout was constructed around a megalithic tomb (Abbeyquarter North, in Garavogue Villas). Maurice Fitzgerald, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, is generally credited with the establishment of the mediaeval town of Sligo, building the Castle of Sligo in 1245.
Sligo was burned several times during the medieval period. In 1257, Geoffry O’Donnell, chief of Tirconnell, marched on Sligo and burned the town. The annalists refer to this Sligo as a sradbhaile (‘street settlement’): a village or town not defended by an enclosure or wall, and consisting of one street. By the mid 15th century the town and port had grown in importance. Amongst the earliest preserved specimens of written English in Connacht is a receipt for 20 marks, dated August 1430, paid by Saunder Lynche and Davy Botyller, to Henry Blake and Walter Blake, customers of “ye King and John Rede, controller of ye porte of Galvy and of Slego”.
Over a century later an order was sent by the Elizabethan Government to Sir Nicholas Malby, Knight, willing him to establish “apt and safe” places for the keeping of the Assizes & Sessions, with walls of lime & stone, in each county of Connacht, “judging that the aptest place be in Sligo, for the County of Sligo… Sligo Abbey, the Dominican Friary, is the only medieval building left standing in the town (BRAM STOKER, WHOSE MOTHER CAME FROM SLIGO, HAS CITED GHOST STORIES ABOUT THE ABBEY AS PART OF THE INSPIRATION FOR HIS INFAMOUS NOVEL, DRACULA). The abbey was founded by Fitzgerald in 1253 but was accidentally destroyed by fire in 1414, and was rebuilt in its present form. When Frederick Hamilton’s soldiers sacked Sligo Town in 1642, the Abbey was burned and everything valuable in it was destroyed. Much of the structure, including the choir, carved altar and cloisters remains.
Between 1847 and 1851 over 30,000 people emigrated through the port of Sligo.On the Quays, overlooking the Garavogue River, is a sculpted memorial to the emigrants. This is one of a suite of three sculptures commissioned by the Sligo Famine Commemoration Committee to honour the victims of the Great Famine. A plaque in the background, headed ‘Letter to America, January 2, 1850’ tells one family’s sad story: “I am now, I may say, alone in the world. All my brothers and sisters are dead and children but yourself… We are all ejected out of Mr. Enright’s ground… The times was so bad and all Ireland in such a state of poverty that no person could pay rent. My only hope now rests with you, as I am without one shilling and as I said before I must either beg or go to the poorhouse… I remain your affectionate father, Owen Larkin. Be sure answer this by return of post.”
The Lady Erin monument was erected in 1899 to mark the centenary of the 1789 insurrection.