Of the roles I assumed on marrying onto the farm, my role as country neighbour is cherished. Being a city girl and therefore a stranger, I was held at length for a short while until trust was gained and so I etched my way into favour with the local community. It wasn’t easy; I was unknown. I had not only come from the city but from enemy territory, Cork. Notwithstanding the Cork flag that now flies on my threshold on Munster Final day (lest said this year the better), I am honored to count my neighbours as friends.
It was with great sadness, alas, a few weeks ago, that I joined my neighbours to mourn the passing of one of our community. The news of this passing treacled through our village in the usual way; a telephone call, the postman passing, chatting with a morning stroller; each neighbour remembering the impression their friend and neighbour had left on them.
And so, in sadness, we neighbours gathered on a warm Thursday evening to offer some solace. Standing outside the local funeral home, locals chatted in line waiting to offer prayer and condolence to a family in mourning.
Later, the rosary rising amongst the neighbours was not unlike a bee’s song on a summer’s evening; a chorus raised up in offering to the heavans whilst bringing comfort to a dear neighbour on his wife’s passing. Afterwards, in slow procession to the church, the bereaved was accompanied closely behind by a group of neighbours, as if in correspondance, reassuring him that we were there to catch him and his family should they fall as we would be in the lonely days ahead. There is much I have learned from living in Kerry and being married to a lovely and (mostly) wise Kerryman but most treasured is the idea that after death, we must look after the living. It took me a while to understand it but in the slow march after our neighbour, I understood what comfort it must have brought to be surrounded by good intention and kindness. In death, look after the living.