The darkness of an Irish morning

March 17, 2013

John Patrick Shanley’s superb column in the New York Times about meeting his Irish relations (see below) reminded me of my grandfather, Bill Martin. A tradesman painter at Moera’s railway workshops, Bill was the son of a piano-playing Irishman from Co Tipperary, and an Irishwoman from Co Armagh.

He practised his storytelling skills in Lower Hutt’s Bellevue Hotel, a handy bike ride from the workshops. Today the pub is a smart establishment but back in the 1930s and 40s, its public bar had a sawdust floor and Bill would spin his yarns to the men standing about with their beer perched on wooden barrels.

Today is March 17 and people of Irish descent all over the world are celebrating their heritage. Shanley brilliantly captures a sense of that heritage and why we remember stories about our grandparents.

The Darkness of an Irish Morning

By JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY

MY father came from Ireland and he had the gift of the gab. Part of the reason the Irish developed the gift of the gab was simple. They lived on an island. They had to get along. Not that they did get along. But they had to try. So a style of speaking developed that allowed them to say awful things. With charm. Read more >

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First game of their lives

April 23, 2012

I was up at 6.30am last Saturday for one of the year’s big sporting events. My two grandchildren were having their debut games for the Naenae soccer club in the under-6s and under-7s.

My daughter teased me that I was more excited than her kids. Well, I did buy their new red and lime green soccer boots. And I’ve been searching the web for how to teach kids soccer because although I coached rugby for 10 years, I don’t know much about the technicalities of the round-ball game.

The first game of the season at Naenae Park and the tradition continues

I was at Naenae Park by 8.45am with three grandchildren, my daughter and her partner. The two debutantes looked smart in their black, red and white uniforms, like mini-Manchester United players. Grandchild number three, who is two, loved being part of the action so long as he had a ball too.

It was a scene being repeated all over New Zealand in soccer, rugby, league, hockey, netball and other codes: sun shining, kids everywhere, friendly and sociable parents on the sideline who become anxious, amused or proud as the game starts and their offspring tear about the field. Read the rest of this entry »


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