Drawing of the book cover Water Under the Railway Bridge by Bill Gerty

20 Farewell Grannie



Ernest is now at the technical college in Bawnboy along with our cousin Edna so John and me have a lot more work to do when we come home from school bringing the animals in and feeding them and last thing at night I have to do the milking with the help of John holding the railway lamp. His mind is not on the job in hand sometimes he is far too busy picking up straws and lighting them from the lamp and smoking them like fags, and I have to bring him back to reality with a squirt of milk in the ear.
Poor old Grannie has not been well lately and the years of struggle and strife are beginning to show on her face, she has now got a very wrinkled face and her memory is not what it used to be. I often wish now that I could talk to her and find out where she came from and how she survived the great famine but we shall never know. As she is now in bed most of the time and getting progressively worse we have to sit up all night with her, Ernest and Louie do it one night and Eddie and me do it the next night. This continued for about two weeks and eventually Grannie departed this life one morning around seven o'clock.   Mrs. Graham came down and laid her out in the room downstairs where we could all see her, Uncle Eddie went out and got the customary drink, cigarettes, tobacco and clay pipes ready for the three nights wake. The house was full every night until seven in the morning when everyone was invited to come in and see Grannie. On the day of the funeral the coffin was brought out and placed on two chairs, at this time Gorby the funeral director arrived with the hearse drawn by two black horses with black head plumes, as the coffin was lifted onto the hearse the two chairs were placed down on to the floor and were not allowed to be lifted until after the funeral, for what reason I do not know. Everyone walked behind the hearse all the way to Templeport church, as we went along more and more people joined the procession, we were told later that there were people still near our house when the hearse was at the church such was the admiration that people had for Grannie both from Catholic's and Protestant's.
I was nearly fourteen when I had my first suit with long trousers, the material cost fifteen shillings from Cosgrove's and five shillings for the Maguire brothers to tailor it. All I wanted now was for the time to pass quickly when it would be time for me to leave school, at the age of fourteen as I was spending more and more time away from school working at home. Miss Stafford had left our school and we had a new teacher Miss Roundtree who thought it would be a good idea for me to go and sit an exam for the school leaving certificate as no one had ever got one at Killyran before. I hated this idea because I had extra work to do but she insisted
that I done it. I had left school some time and forgot all about the exam when one afternoon the teacher came running down the road to where I was working in the garden waving a piece of paper and shouting you did it, she was far more excited about the whole thing than I was.
It was around this time when one morning Willie Crawford came running up the platform as the early train was just approaching Killyran. "A ticket please for my Dad, he is just coming along behind me". By this time the train had arrived, his Dad was nowhere to be seen. It appeared that as the train was right across the main road he got up between two coal wagons to get across. At this time the train was pulling out so he went flying past us stuck between the wagons. There he was with his wellies on, a walking stick in one hand and a horses collar around this neck as he was on his way to have it mended. But the old man managed to get into one of the wagons and got out at the next station. I wrote a song about it at the time, I cannot remember it but my sister Maisie is often singing it.


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