The Shame of Ireland

The Shame of Ireland

From the day I left Artane in October 1947 I've been running from my past. As I was known as Charlie from the being of my 'stay' in State custody from the age of two, it helped to learn on my release…

From the day I left Artane in October 1947 I've been running from my past. As I was known as Charlie from the being of my 'stay' in State custody from the age of two, it helped to learn on my release that my first name was in fact Patrick. It was therefore easy to forget about Charlie and leave him locked behind.

My race began in earnest when I fell in love with an eighteen year old clothing factory girl They started work at fourteen in those days. I had joined the RAF at the age of seventeen; just scraped in as a messing orderly, as I could just about read and write. With no home to go to on weekends off and leave periods I travelled the length and breath of the UK and stayed in bed and breakfast places, plus the YMCA. In those days there were signs a plenty of "No dogs or Irish allowed".

It was on one of those leave trips that I landed up in a small coal mining town in Co. Durham where I met the girl who became my wife. She came from a very materially poor family home of a two up two down terrace house. She had two brothers and two sisters. Her home contained a rich loving environment that no money could buy.

At first, she refused my proposal of marriage as she was too young, but then accepted me when she turned twenty. All I had to offer was a dream and with her love and inspiration I achieved what many would consider an impossible dream. There are so many things I've accomplished I now find it hard to believe I was capable of.

As if my earlier life had not been challenging enough, I was presented with much heartache to overcome along the way. Now that it's all over and I'm all alone, death can't come soon enough. Sorry I'll have to break off here as the pain has gotten too much. 

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Comment by jack colleton on April 28, 2014 at 23:02
Comment by Patrick Rice on April 29, 2014 at 14:41

There is so very much I could write about, and yet I'm no sure who I am. When people state; "Your Irish" when they hear me speak, my standard answer is "I left there as a seventeen year old." There was no point trying to explain my accent. Only those who have been through something like me will understand. Being a social miss-fit you keep to yourself for fear of letting slip your lack of knowledge on social behaviour. There is a tendency to be hurtful without intention, to tell it how it is.

When I reflect on my time in Artane there were incidents where some of us must have appeared cruel. There were two other kids I hung out with, each of us were 'nobodies'; no family that we knew of. We use to howl with laughter to hear other kids crying: "Mammy, Daddy" when they were receiving a good beating. They didn't know 'boys don't cry.' The lack of nurture left us rely on our natural instincts with the use of cold logic.

A good example was when my late wife first asked about my family background I replied: "Never knew a family." She though that very very sad to which I replied: "No it's not. What is sad, is to have a family and know that one day, your Father or Mother will die. The pain and suffering that you will have to endure some day when they die, I can't begin to imagine."

What is plain to see is that my time in custody left me emotionally barren.

By a cruel twist of faith I was suddenly confronted with the worst kind of emotional pain and joined the ranks of mortals. It was to have been a joyous and wonderful occasion. I had completed a contract of employment in the Middle East with BAC, , had returned home and was looking forward to a two weeks holiday I promised your youngest daughter. Every thing was arranged flights booked etc., and I promised her no expense would be spared. The evening before departure I hugged and kissed her: "We'll have a great time together" . My wife and I then went for a stroll. On our return there was no one in the house, the phone rang, I answered. There had been an accident a short distance away. We hopped in the car and arrived at the scene, our daughter lay lifeless by the roadside. Suffice to say she was dead by the time we reached the hospital; just 15 yrs old.

I was help to our older daughter who was married by then and our son had left home. There was I, the strong man, a complete wreck no use to my wife or family. During my years in the Industrial Schools I had witnessed deaths that were avoidable. At St. Patrick's one child's foraging for food ate the pea like pods hanging fro a low lying tree.They proved fatal. Not until the 1970s was I to learn the name of the tree; Laburnum.

The death of Charlie McGregor in Artane I witnessed though violent, I was happy for him because I believed he was in a better place. Death was better than Artane in the 1940s and I prayed I'd not wake up each morn.

I encountered many more challenges in life and in all, I can in all honesty say I've had a full and exciting life because I'm a fighter and a survivor. There is an interesting story about the family I never knew, while I was 'serving time'. It's now unfolding and proves that I was totally innocent, but more of that later.    

Comment by jack colleton on April 29, 2014 at 16:14

hello  Patrick.  I often say that I ask not who am I but instead who was I before I was intercepted? indeed people appear to expect an accent.  as if there is a standard!  the old stereotypes! survival has people all sorts of ways. each survivor finds a way to cope.

Comment by james moy on April 29, 2014 at 18:08

Hello lads, Jack and Patrick, regarding accents, there are a few things I have used over the years as a means of therapy, my love of nature, animals and gardening, I get great pleasure in all of them, its the nearest I can get spiritually to God, and I have a great belief in that, its not man made, but so powerful we cant live without them, I also find it in the sea, trees, shrubs, mountains and snow, they are all pure magic, none a threat if treated with respect,  and were all there long before man made stuff, like Religion, Theology, the Vatican, The Bent Irish Government, and concrete !

I am almost 40 years living in the UK, I come from Monks town Farm , Jack, and wish I had a quid for every time I passed the places you refer to, Birds Nest, on my way to and from  the CBS in Dun Laoghaire, and for the life of me, never thought I would experience time committed to a Gulag , although it was only for 2 years, it gave me more than an insight into what life was like for those of us under the so called divine care of the Religious, such hypocrites, and amongst them the worst types of Abusers the Children were exposed to.

Yes Patrick, rightfully, many of us had varied experiences, and different paths through life, but for most of us, we learned the art of survival, and how to live with it, it has not been easy, but like you guys, we survive. And yes , there is without doubt, a book within all our grasps !

I find having a budgie as a companion is great therapy, my Daughter is amazed that not only does Joey have a great repertoire, everything I taught him, he does it all with my accent, and  Yvonne, swears if She was standing listening to him outside the door of his room, She would think it was me. !                Still in a strong Dublin accent !

Keep strong .



Comment by jack colleton on April 29, 2014 at 23:13

so true Jimmy.  although in my case it has taken years to appreciate all you mentioned at the start of your post. it can be hard to appreciate outside of you when it is so hard inside you. I know Monkstown Farm well!  like most areas there are changes over time. more people. more houses. more cars. more businesses. the Bird's Nest is still there! it is now "private apartments".  there would be ghosts in there still.  yeh some survivors keep their accent regardless how many years out of the country that did them wrong and harm. southside accents can be softer.

Comment by jack colleton on April 29, 2014 at 23:14
Comment by jack colleton on April 29, 2014 at 23:17
Comment by jack colleton on April 29, 2014 at 23:21

guess reason for sale is the residents in the private apartments could not bear the ghosts

Comment by james moy on April 30, 2014 at 6:04

Jack, why I mention therapy , is because for many,  it does not work, and I mean the type that is given out by a therapist , or councillor, for example, many years ago, my Dublin Solicitor, arranged for me to go and see a Therapist, I had to drive 25 miles to his address, and after entering his office, he invited me to sit down opposite him , and he set this tick tock machine going , and started the ball rolling by asking me  a few questions, about my time in the Gulag, and some of my background history, and effectively he got me doing most of the talking, relating my different experiences, and bringing bad memories to my mind,

After an hour, this bloody machine went off, with a loud ringing noise,  he leaped up and hit it with his hand, stopping it. He said that's it, your hour is up and I will see you in a month. He got over 2 grand for that bit of hard work ! I was cool ,calm and collected when I went into his office, when I came out , I was well traumatised, and it took a few a fags in a layby, to compose myself and come back down to earth. That was the once and only time I ever accepted an invite to see one of those head shrinkers.

Comment by jack colleton on April 30, 2014 at 10:30

wow. I felt that!  I was there! I well see it! imagine it!  maybe at best they can only really facilitate .. provide time and space for the client to do the talking! I saw a counsellor for a time and if asked if I benefited from seeing them I hesitate. I really can not say that I did. i can not be sure. they were having affair. seeking funds to leave home after decades of being married. they did that ok but then had a near fatal car accident. then they were diagnosed with cancer. next thing dead. i never was found another counsellor after that!

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