Thursday 8 December 2016

A family always on song

No 68 was home to arias and Ali Baba, Ave Maria and Aladdin, says Miriam O'Callaghan. And now it's gone

Published 27/06/2016 | 02:30

Miriam O'Callaghan: 'if you didn't sing a bit of casual opera on your way to work, sure, you were nobody'.
Miriam O'Callaghan: 'if you didn't sing a bit of casual opera on your way to work, sure, you were nobody'.

I never spoke about what happened in our family. It didn't go on in the homes of my friends. Or, not that I knew. But, in retrospect and it being Cork, it was probably widespread: The Singing.

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Not your respectable Dean Martin, Perry Como or Sinatra, though they featured. My father did a phonetically perfect Tristesse, a la Tino Rossi. I'm talking actual arias. Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, Balfe. On the big liturgical feasts, or around a death or anniversary, there'd be Panis Angelicus; Ave Maria.

On my father's side, The Singing happened in the old O'Callaghan kitchen at "68", his childhood family home, an elegant, double-fronted distillery house on Blarney Street. One bedroom had a view to the harbour. Good for the soul. It also had a view of a father returning from work. Good for the body: a brilliant, handsome man, my grandfather had a short fuse, a long reach.

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