I watch my boys run along a ditch outside and while the mother in me has her heart in mouth for fear that they might fall, the city come country girl in me is acutely aware that these little boys are creating their own story. The last children to run the ditch, were my husband and his sisters while their own mother held her breath at the thought of their falling and I become aware, yet again, that these indeed are hallowed grounds.
Walking onto ‘the land’, on marrying into the country, you come to know that you are indeed walking into another person’s story. Sometimes as an unwanted tagline in a family’s history as it readjusts, begrudgingly at times, to fit you into it’s storyline. For families are exactly that, once actors but now bearers and collectors of a generation or more of stories; stories of love, happiness, disappointment, hilarity, joy, mourning, tragedy. I too, carry my own stories, mostly cherished but at times difficult to bear.
The truth is being a Cork city girl, I owned the banks, streets and bad paving of my beautiful city. It was all mine. The ground most trodden was mine in the way that we claim ownership over something we know and love. I own the street where I walked home from school with my sister, the pavement where my parents met for their first date, the no.3 bus route, the chimneys of the local brewery, the path to my Nana’s house. At times, now I too begrudge, the friends and family who get to walk in my hallowed home, acting out their lives on my territory.
While not so easy to begin with, it is easier for me to see now how marrying into a farm was difficult for the last generation. How frustrating it must be for the past generation to watch a new story unfold, in it’s own way, over a treasured childhood playground. As a young newly wed, I had no idea, and I wince at the memory of awkward encounters with this family treasure trove of stories and land. But I too, am just passing through Hearthill, granted and please God, for a long life, and I am one of the newest generation of family storytellers. Loving this place, bringing new actors onto it’s stage as my family take on their own roles watching our new drama unfold. With respect, there is room for everyone to be written in, newest generation and old.