Absent Friends - Ursula"s
edited: Friday, April 13, 2007
By Paul Francis Mc Cann
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, April 13, 2007
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As an exile the further away from Ireland you go the more proud you are about being Irish .
During the time I was writing Absent friends it was encouraging how more and more people began to make contact with me wanting to be included in the series . One thing that united us was a love of the place that we had all left behind . Our country and our home . For most of us we had made a new life for ourselves in another country .
As I sat having breakfast one morning the phone rang . Picking up the receiver I heard this broad Belfast accent speaking . It was the voice of a woman who said ,
“Here, do you remember the Shamrock club ?
I replied ,
“I sure do ,but tell me what about Tobys ?
Right away we both knew we were ex- Ardoynians and she went on talking ,
“I remember Toby’s all right . Every Saturday night . My name is Ursula Bloomfield and I hear you’re doing some stories about people from Ardpyne .
I replied ,
“I am indeed Ursula . What about giving me your story then >”
“But I’m from the bone “
She said .
I answered right away ,
“So what . Absent friends is about people from all over who have left Ireland . Anyway the Bone is close enough to Ardoyne . You probably know heaps of people from the district .“
“Funny you should say that “
She said and she continued
“Dandy Close who has passed on now lived in Jamaica Street .Well he was my best friends husband . Marie Maguire was her maiden name .“
I cut in ,
“I knew a Eamonn Maguire from Ardoyne . Was she related to him ?”
She went on
“Yes he was her brother .In fact every year I go home to Ardoyne and purchase some of Eamonn’s Celtic Designs and drums for my shop in Victoria I get lots of interest in his artwork here in Australia . Many Americans walk into my shop . They think that my accent is the best thing they have heard and they love to listen to me rave on . I’m always glad to oblige then as the more I talk to them the more they are likely to buy in the shop .“
“What is the name of you shop ?”
I asked her .
“Celtic Connections .“
Came the reply .
“How long have you had it ?”
I asked .
“Not long enough .“
Came the quick reply .
“Is it doing good business then ?”
IO said .
“ The few years I’ve had the business I’ve done very well .“
She said .
I went on ..
“Tell me about where you are situated ?”
“”I am in this wee spot nestled in the green Ovens Valley of North East Victoria and immediately I saw it I felt right at home surrounded by the high peaks of Mount Buffalo and Mount Hotham not forgetting the highest peak at Mount Bogong . It reminds me so much of Ireland with shades of green everywhere . Even the main street is called Ireland Street . It got its name from Irish private secretary Major John Ovens who was passing through on his way from Sydney to Port Philip . It was originally known as Goldfields around this spot . Many Irish settlers came to this place and settled in places like Shamrock Creek , Shamrock Gully and Shamrock Mine . Some of the mines and reefs are called Ulster , Kildare , Liffey and Hibernia .“
I answered ,
“It’s sounds like you struck some gold there of your own .”
“Good things come to all those that wait .“
She said .
“Sure enough and the best is yet to come . Tell me a little about yourself and the early days growing up around Ardoyne .“
“Well I’ve been away since 1969 . Originally I came from Ardilea Street and was good friends with the Maguire family . I had another good friend called Marie Burns and we used to catch spricks in the Milley Dam behind Brompton Park . We loved going for walks through the swamp beside the Beltex Mill . I went to the Plaza ballroom with Marie as we got free passes from Maries bother who had the barbers shop on the Falls Road . I remember going to the forum on Saturday for Yo-Yo contests and then sit in front of John Wayne .“
“It was a magic time then wasn’t it Ursula ?”
“It certainly was . I remember the times in the Park Picture House, when hypnotist called Edwin Heath was there. He had everybody mesmerised in the pictures .“
“Have you kept in touch with your family since leaving ?””
“I have a sister Eilish who owns an Irish Pub in Toronto called the Darby O”Gill . My other sister Molly lives here in Australia . For a while we lived together . We do still keep in touch with one another .“
“Have you any favourite memories of growing up around Ardoyne ?”
I asked .
“Yes . Too many to mention . I had a very happy childhood . Looking back Fridays night’s at Ginny Harpers for a plate of fish and chips sharing a bottle of coke between the six of us . I often look back at those times and smile . I was always one for yodelling when I was young .”
I interrupted for a moment and asked her ,’
“Have you ever had any people from Ardoyne who walked in to your shop in Victoria ?”
“In fact I have . Recently Peter Mc Guigan from Jamaica Street was in . He’s a laugh a minute . His wife Kathleen was with him . We stood talking for hours . Pauline Kirkpatrick who is now Quinn walked in just last week . She had gone to school with me . Most of the people who come into my shop are tourists . I love hearing about the places where they come from as much as they like to hear about where I come from . I have never met one person who came into my shop and has been to Ireland and said they disliked it . I feel we must highlight Ireland and its history . Our culture and heritage and people are a precious thing indeed . Everybody tells me that they want to know more about Ireland . I enjoy doing what I’m doing and I’m doing very well .”
She said .
‘Well Ursula , keep it going “
I said and continued ,
“Thanks for your story and all the very best .“
Again another Absent Friend said farewell . She leaves with an important message . The Irish are a special race and we should be proud of the land we come from .
By Paul McCann
Web Site: Poems
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