Wednesday 25 April 2018

In my father's house are many palaces

Catholics need to decide if they want to save the church as it is and donate to the abuse fund, writes Florence Horsman Hogan

As a child, due to my parents' inability to care for me, I was placed in an industrial school. When I was five, I was returned to my parents. Due to my father's alcoholism, we lived in relative poverty. Because of my mother being mentally ill, we didn't have such a great family life either. The sad part about this was my poor mother actually came from quite a well-off family. So well-off, in fact, that they were able to donate a beautiful house and land to the Catholic church.

The house, St Martin's, was situated in the square of the village of Eyrecourt in Co Galway. It was owned by my mother's aunts and uncles, two spinsters and two priests. Through the years growing up, my mother and her siblings used to come from Loughrea, where they lived, to spend their holidays there. She met my father who lived in Eyrecourt and they married against the wishes of both their families. The aunts, not having any children, left the house to the Catholic church for the priests to live in, and there ended our family connection with it. No self-respecting priest would let an insane woman and her child into their domain, now would they?

I remember my mother looking out the window of our dreary kitchen across the square to where St Martin's stood and carrying out her rapid-fire rants against the priests who lived there. In its day, the house was a magnificent structure with silver eagles on pillars out the front and frescoes on the two sitting rooms' ceilings. On the roof was a beautifully tended garden with apple trees, rose bushes and flowered trellises. I used to sneak up the long stone staircase that accessed the gardens with my friends from the village. Hiding from the priests, we spent so many happy hours climbing the trees and playing childish fantasy games there. Sometimes (ironically not knowing the family connection) I'd pretend that I was living in the house with 'normal' parents .

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