When I was a girl, a long time ago, most people had very strict parents, and I remember so well, the feeling of being squashed and kept down – it was just how things were then. Every Summer, we went to an Irish College in Donegal. The first time I went, I was fourteen, I fell in love with everything about those holidays, and Donegal is still my favourite place.

Wet Sunday afternoons

Micheál Ó hEithir full-voiced

My father leaned to hear

Forbidding us to talk

We kept our heads down

Read our Enid Blytons

Visits to relations

Sit straight with ankles neat

Weak tea, not quite hot

Men who would be jolly

Women with their blouses

Buttoned to the nose

Restless, teenage years

Stultified, depressed

Hemmed in by the iron will

Of parents bent on purity

Chips at the harbour wall

A mortal sin

But ah – August in The Rosses

Let loose among na buachaillí*

Blood-red cheeks and sparkling eyes

Mascara thick and black

And lipstick for the céilí –

Bhí gaeilge fíor mhaith againn!**

     *the boys

**We were very good at Irish!


5 thoughts on “ÉALÚ BINN | SWEET ESCAPE from Minus One

  1. Elizabeth, you capture the sense of imprisonment brilliantly in your poem. I love the detail of the women’s blouses buttoned to the nose, how the men are jolly and my goodness, when chips by the wall was a mortal sin! Sounds incredible and no wonder you loved your liberty during the holidays. Such a different world now!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Elizabeth, I remember this poem from your book. It fascinated me then too. Although life was so strict and restricted for you [and for me as I also attended a Catholic Convent for many years], we seem to have gone to far in the opposite direction now. There just never seems to be a middle ground does there? It’s always so extreme.

    Liked by 1 person

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