Sunday 17 June 2018

Swimming with ghosts to find home

The water is so calming and reflective, it's like climbing into the sky
The water is so calming and reflective, it's like climbing into the sky
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

It's nice to visit with the ghosts now and then. I had been determined for a while to swim with them. If you walk down past Poul Gorm in Glengarriff and head left along a beautiful woodland path you will come to what my mother calls the Point. And I like to think that the uncles, the mother's brothers who loom over us all, used to hang out there and swim on long, lazy summer days in different times. I guess I felt that by bathing in these same waters there would be some benediction or baptism, or maybe even absolution. Or maybe it would just be good to wade into the waters of the past. Then again, the brother tells me they never swam there. He says none of them could swim in these places, not even the boatmen. The mother, more indulgent of her soft son's magical thinking, says they did and she has pictures. She promises to show them to me. She probably never will.

I was shaky enough. We had been back exploring our roots in Kenmare and we had so many cousins that it had been a late night. But the view when you get past Bonane and the tunnels and then Bantry Bay spreads out in front of you would cure anything. I will never get to the bottom of all the names and the people and places.

We made a few calls first; into Casey's Hotel to look at old pictures, for my mother to catch up on who's dead or alive, and to hear who really killed Collins. Over to my aunt Joan in the old house. We look at old pictures with her too. Those pictures are all we have left of what we had, she says, but sure we had enough.

Please sign in or register with Independent.ie for free access to Opinions.

Sign In

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss