My father’s birthday – fitting day to write about my love for Ireland
As I write this, it is September 5 2012. It is my late father’s birthday. If he were here he would be turning 96 today.
It seems fitting that I begin to pen this piece about my love for Ireland today and as I do, I am oh so aware that my father’s invisible hand guides my every word.
If I asked my dad where he thought he would go when he left this life he would say with his wicked smile “ Oh I am not so sure that St Peter will let me through those Pearly Gates, but I know one thing for certain; a little bit of me will go straight back to Ireland when I die, and I think that’s the only way I’m ever going to get there”. I made a promise to my dad, that I would go to Ireland for him (and for myself) come hell or high water. “How about I meet you there, Jack?” I remember joking.
Tonight, there is a full September moon. It has been a beautiful Australian spring day. The bright yellow wattle is in bloom outside my window and its heavy scent reminds me that summer is not so far away. My father John Maurice Roache (Roche; de Roiste) used to laugh in his lilting way and say, ”Whenever you see that old moon just remember, that is my lucky time”.
I saw that old moon so big and full as it hung in the sky like a lantern above Glenstal Abbey in County Cork in the September of 2011, and I knew without a doubt that twelve months after he had passed on, my Dad was there in Ireland too.
We went to the Abbey to visit the grave of our distant cousin Father James Roche OSB who had written to me for many years before his death during the nineties.
James had lived and worked at Glenstal Abbey as a monk since a young man. We stayed at the Abbey for two nights and the monks were extremely welcoming and hospitable to us all.
This a poem written by my father Jack Roche, for our distant Irish cousin Larry Roche who had visited us in Australia.
Just a small token
To Larry Roche & Josephine
To remind you of Australia
And the places you have been
And when back home you pause
To think of our wide brown land
We hope you’ll spare a thought for us
And the new friends you have found
You brought a breath of Ireland
That lingers in our hearts
And caused our thoughts to follow you
Now time has come to part
Now parting’s not forever
And surely you’ll agree
There’s a lot of old Ireland in you Larry
And a little bit in me
If we tramped this whole world over
In search of a better place to be
Only old Ireland or Australia would suffice
For the likes of Larry & me
(J. M. Roache 2000)