Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Glenamaddy Workhouse

Hobnail Boots unknown

Back in January a friend of mine invited me to visit her home place of Glenamaddy.
 Delighted to get a tour by someone who loves the town, I leapt at the chance.
January's an interesting time to visit anywhere as there's a pensiveness in the air and all life is paired back to its skeletal state. You get the truth of things. 
A pretty little town, Glenamaddy's a fine example of a rural place that's still got the feeling of 'old Ireland' without the bling to tell you it does. Surrounded by lakes and trees, it's somewhere I'd like to return to now the summer's at an end to see what's shifted.

Little by little, over the course of the day as we visited all the lovely nooks and crannies of Glenamaddy, I found my life force diminishing bit by bit and the feeling of grief encapsulated the lens through which I was viewing things. On hilltops looking down at beautiful lakes, enjoying the lovely chat, I became more melancholy and a driving pain began penetrating my forehead. Trying to shake it off and be present with my host became difficult and by the time we finally reached the old workhouse, I was engulfed with sadness and quite faint. 
Standing at the edge of the lake nearby, I had to resist the temptation to jump in. I don't like to swim in cold waters, ever, yet I felt a tremendous pull from the water. Many 'inmates' probably ended their life there. Noticing I was uneasy, my friend suggested we leave and soon we were back at her house drinking sweet tea. 

Photo Sadie Cramer
I was quite ill for several days following that visit and have often wondered what it was all about. I get the experience of overwhelming grief creeping up from the ground into my body sometimes, so I know it's not my own. 

Photo Unknown
Last Sunday I got a call from my father who began to tell me for the first time, that my Grandmother whom I adored and her siblings were put into a workhouse when her widowed mother became destitute. One of my aunts died during her time there. 

Apart from the obvious reasons, I've finally found out why this subject matter has gripped me so forcibly for so long. The last few days have been shattering as I loved my nan deeply and often feel her comforting presence around me. 

Only time can tell what the TRUTH of this situation is. This is the bare bones of it as it is known now but as someone told me during the week: 
'We're all a collection of shattered hearts really.'

We are. 
But somehow by sharing our hurts and supporting each other, we can help heal the pain that separates us rather than unites us 💚

Please join us in Tuam on Sunday:

We are gathering at 2pm outside Tuam Town Hall, at 2:30pm we will walk unitedly down the 30min route to the former site of the Tuam Mother & Baby home. We will start proceedings at 3pm which will coincide with Pope Francis saying mass in Dublin. We will be asking volunteers to read the #796 names and ages individual. We respectfully invite supporters to bring baby and toddler shoes, which will be left at the site in remembrance of the children, After thanking visitors we will then peacefully disperse.  @AnnetteMckay15

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