One would think that I would have spent the six weeks before Christmas preparing for and celebrating Thanksgiving, shopping, cleaning, baking and getting ready for the big holiday celebration.
Well, I did some of that, but I also became addicted to a page on Facebook called “Things I Miss About Carrick-on Suir”. Carrick is the little town of about 5000 souls that I come from in Co. Tipperary. I left that town in 1958, came to the US in 1968, and I try to visit my remaining family there every three or four years.
So until this past November 4, I really didn’t know much of what Carrick was all about these days. That’s the day when Father Richard Geoghegan, a local pastor, created the Facebook page that has taken the town by storm. I happened upon it by accident and now I visit that page several times a day. I have joined the group and so have over 3000 other people from all over the world.
I see postings from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada, Dubai, Morocco, Hong Kong, UK and the many other places where people from my town have settled over the years. They talk about how wonderful it is to be reconnected with friends and families with whom they have lost touch.
Today I counted 1725 photos that have been posted, some taken more than 70 years ago. There are old family photos, old maps of the town, old newspaper clippings, lots of old school photos, copies of programs of local theatre productions etc. It is not unusual to have someone say: “Oh, that’s a photo of my gran as a young girl, I’ve never seen this before.”
One contributor has posted lots of lore about the town: for example, the history of the Ormonde Castle, the Famine Wall outside the Church, the Old Bridge … all places that I grew up with but was never curious to learn about.
The songs we sang in school, who our favorite nuns were, what were the rhymes we sang as we skipped rope, lists of the little shops where we could buy a pennyworth of sweets, names of the ice cream parlors and the favorite ice creams, who were the best players on the GAA teams; these are all sub headings on the Carrick page.
The town has recently undergone some hard times. Many local industries have closed and Carrick has become a ‘dormitory’ town, supplying workers for businesses in nearby Clonmel and Waterford. One might think that this would dampen the spirits of the local people.
Far from it, I would say. There is a terrific sense of community among the Facebook contributors. They speak with pride of their town. There’s a willingness to share their memories, to laugh together at funny stories from the past, to reminisce about ‘the old days.’ I detect a resilience among the people that will pull this small town through to the other side of this recession.
My husband is from Cork city. He is jealous of the fun I am having on the Carrick page. He says this could never happen in a large community. Growing up, we used to say that everyone knew everyone else in the town. I certainly have learned more about my home town and its people since November 4, 2013.
I spend time poring over the old photographs, trying to see who I can recognize. My life in Carrick was during the time of the black and white photos. There are many colored photographs also, but I can tell that the ‘seniors’ my age have a lot to say and are active participants in social media.
Father Richard’s creation is the talk of the town, and if gathering his flock together is one of his pastoral goals, I would say to him “Mission Accomplished.”
Mary Donegan (nee Morrissey)
Columbia, Maryland 21044
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore