Looking forward, with a glimpse to the past

I may seem a bit obsessed with the dead this week, but I think its so important to remember all those we have loved and lost – they have impacted on our lives and many have shaped the people we are today.  Recently at the annual “blessing of the graves” in my home town it was lovely to see so many people there standing by their tidied family graves, honouring and remembering generations of parents, grandparents and so sadly many  young children and babies.  Despite all the controversy in the church these days this was a dignified understated ceremony and felt very like a real community celebration of remembrance.

My young 8year old son Milo never met either of his grandfathers, and is desperate to know all about them and what they were like.  They would both have been so proud of him – its a shame they’re not around to see this enthusiastic, sporty, intelligent, playful and quite fluent irish speaking boy!  We show him photos of our fathers but it takes more to describe their personalities – Milo is fascinated with the fact that he shares my dad’s passion for lego and making things – so he figures they would have definitely got on well and his other grandfather was a gaelgóir so he’s pleased to know that they could have chatted in irish.  He often wonders if the grandads get to meet in heaven and have discussions about him and his sisters progress in life!  One of his sisters wondered recently what accent my dad had – was it a strong Cavan one like my brother and I found my self saddened realising that we have no video or sound recordings of him – wish I had.  My challenge is to bring a wonderful man to life in my son’s mind so that he knows where he comes from and what characteristics he shares with his grandads.  We regularly visit my dad’s grave and occasionally my father in law’s (because its more difficult to get to) and Milo was moved to tears visiting them – seeing their graves and headstones as his most tangible connection to them.  Unlike his experience we will be able to leave a record of speech, movement and colour – one of the many advantages of our digital age.

In the meantime, we can light a candle of remembrance, shining a light on our past, illuminating our future!

Remembering the Dead

About 8 years ago I was asked to engrave and paint the names of the soldiers who died in the Lebanon on a memorial candle.  The candle was especially made by Larry Kinsella of Moth to a Flame Candles.  It was made in 4 sections to make up an entire sized candle of approx 6ft.  Sadly such a large candle was needed to allow space for the names of the 47 soldierswho died while on UNIFIL duty between 1978 and 2000

I never had the opportunity to see the candle in the Cedar Room of Arbour Hill Church of the Sacred Heart (church of the Defence Forces) until today.  The church always seemed to be closed until by chance when passing I noticed the gate was opened so I had to have a look inside.  I was delighted to finally get to see the candle memorial in place together with other mementos of the Lebanon UNIFIL mission which include a book of photographs and details of all the soldiers.  It is such a peaceful and dignified room that fittingly remembers these men and according to Betty, one of the ladies who look after this room and the church, this is a room that is often visited and very recently the church held the marriage of a son of one of the fallen men and poignantly a bouquet was placed on the open memorial book in his memory on his son’s wedding day.

Army Memorial Candle.     

I was honoured have created part of this fitting memorial and so pleased to finally see it in place.

May they Rest in Peace