The Way It Was
By Paul Gannon
My Grand Uncle always sat directly in front of his beloved fire which he used to build so beautifully and with so much care. Tending to his fire was one of his greatest pleasures in life and I could watch him for an eternity because he took such a scientific approach to the whole task. Sometimes we would sit for ages just staring into the heart of it, both of us lost in our own thoughts yet glad of each other’s company. He was a great conversationalist and I was forever asking him about the old days. Football was always our favourite theme. He had a great memory and could recall events as if it were only yesterday. Sometimes he would afford himself a wry smile as he recalled certain matches and incidents.
His memories went back seventy years or more. He was the last of his generation of footballers and I knew it was incumbent upon me to write it all down for future generations. He was happy for me to write his story and when I read it back to him he listened with great pride and satisfaction. Two months later, he passed away peacefully. Shortly before he died, my son Luke was born but fate decreed that John and Luke would never meet. This was a cause of great sadness to me but I was also overcome with a great sense of relief that John’s story did not die with him and that one day, Luke would be able to read it for himself.
The Way It Was recalls my retrospective journey in 1999 with a wonderful group of senior citizens,my honorary representatives of all the various walks of life across the sociological spectrum of West Connemara. All the major themes that comprise the patchwork quilt of work and recreation are remembered, recorded, affirmed and acknowledged through a series of ghost written stories that encapsulate the life and times of their subjects.I have always loved history and if The Way It Was contributes in some small way to helping my local community understand the social and economic evolution of its part of rural Ireland, then I will be forever happy that I was called upon to produce it.