After writing my post the other day I couldn’t stop asking myself, why have I not encouraged my children to learn about the Ireland I grew up in? The one in which there were ‘The troubles’ in Northern Ireland? Why have I not spoken eloquently to them about the 800 years of English rule and the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for us, for them, so we could live in an independent country?
I wondered, as they smiled and nodded, before rushing out of the room every time I tried to interest them in the Easter Rising Centenary celebrations, had I made a big mistake? Then on facebook yesterday I got my answer. (Yes facebook is good for something other than wasting my time). I listened to two songs back to back, and they summed up my thoughts exactly, and why I’ve kept my republican feelings to myself.
The songs were, ‘The Town I Loved So Well’ and ‘The Island’.
The Town I Loved So Well is a most beautiful, haunting song of the Ireland I knew growing up. The Ireland torn apart by bombings and killings. It tells the story of a man growing up in Derry, living life and finding his wife, in the town he loved so well. For a time he leaves, but when he returns the Derry of his youth is gone.
“But when I returned, how my eyes have burned
To see how a town could be brought to it’s knees
By the armoured cars and the bombed-out bars
And the gas that hangs on to every breeze
Now the army’s installed by that old gas yard wall
And the damned barbed wire gets higher and higher
With their tanks and their guns, oh my god, what have they done
To the town I loved so well”
As I listened to that song the other day I remembered. So many wrongs, so many killings, on both sides and I felt so strongly my children should know about it.
However, moments later I heard another very different song. It was Paul Brady singing ‘The island’.
They’re showing pictures on the Television,
Women and children dying in the street,
And we’re still at it in our own place,
Still trying to reach the future through the past,
Still trying to carve tomorrow from a tombstone..
Those last two lines spoke to me in particular. Was that not what I wanted to do, reach the future through the past? Carve tomorrow from a tombstone?
And as I further listened
Up here we sacrifice our children,
To feed the worn out dreams of yesterday,
And teach them dying will lead us into glory…
I knew that no matter what my heart was telling me, my head was speaking sense. So I’ll continue to listen to it, albeit sometimes a little begrudgingly. M
And you never know, maybe I’ll get away with telling my grandchildren about it instead someday!
In case you have time and the inclination, here are the two songs I am referring to. They really are worth a listen and the videos tell the song perfectly.
The Town I Loved So Well. (Great photos with this one)
Written by Phil Coulter.
The Island,(also with wonderful photos which tell their own story)
photo credit: Dublin Bread Company via photopin (license)
photo credit: Republic of Ireland flag in Quarndon, Derbyshire via photopin (license)