I remember the cottage in Tuppercurry, County Sligo, Ireland. It belonged to my grandparents, where my family and I visited two or three times a year. This took place between 1970 to 1987.
It was big, but cold at night and sometimes spooky. We used to have a wash at the old kitchen sink, because there wasn’t a bath. Of course, there was a toilet downstairs. It was always so scary at night, when you crept quietly down each step and failing when both feet touched a creaking floor board.
There were two rooms downstairs. One bedroom and the kitchen/diner. The kitchen/diner overlooked the long garden, where my grandad would grow cabbages. Everyone seemed to gather there in the evenings. I remember the fun and games we all had in that room. Gran used to get the drought board out or the playing cards, and we would play for hours. If we weren’t playing games we were having a sing-song and dance, which was fun.
My cousins from Sligo would come to visit us and we would all have a laugh. Meal times were a fiasco. There was no such thing as having a cooker then. My mother would cook on the range. It was filled with coal and gave out warmth and comfort.
There were only two comfortable armchairs in the room. My grandad would sit in one and gran would sit in the other.
The long wooden table gave at least ten places at each meal time. I remember the hot mash, bacon and green cabbage that was served onto our plates. We sneered and turned up our noses. We would try our best to get away without eating, but my mother would never give in to our moans. Eventually, we would eat every last bit off our plates, if we wanted to go outside and play some more in the fields across the road. That’s where we could run and play with the other kids.
There was the time, when my grandad brought in some rabbits for dinner. He hunted them with dogs and then brought them home. He prepared them by skinning them and then he would give them to my mother to cook. That had been the most awful day of my life. I had refused to eat it, but my mother made me by saying I would not be allowed to go outside and play. My stomach had turned sick at the sight of it on my plate.
That was my last happy day there, because the next time we visited, was to attend my grandmother’s funeral, which I have never forgotten. I have not been back there for eighteen years. Of course, it would never be the same again, as this cottage has now been sold.
I remember the day my gran died, because they had a wake in the room she had passed away in that night. It was a horrible thing to do, but it was traditional and a kind of respect for the person that had passed on.
In a way it was a frightening experience for me and my brothers, because we hadn’t witnessed anything so sinister in our lives before.
The next day was the worst. Especially, for me. When I walked into the hallway passing the room where my gran had been laid to rest, I felt a strange feeling of lurking in the corridor. It was like a shiver that ran through my body. Something was there watching us. I knew who it was. It was my gran, watching over us as usual.
That night, when I had gotten into bed, I thought I was asleep but then I looked around me and there I saw my gran all lit up. She was like a bright illumination in white. To this day, I can still not tell whether it had been a dream or a real experience in seeing a ghost of someone very close that had recently passed away. The one thing I am certain about and that is the experience of seeing a ghost in Ireland, because I have been told that there are lots more in these Irish lands.