On Friday afternoon last, Good Friday, I left my house to go to Tramore and on a whim, an impulse, I took a detour to visit the old graveyard at Mothel in Co. Waterford.
It was an afternoon of sunshine and clear blue sky and the air in this old country graveyard was full to bursting with birdsong – the music of songbirds punctuated by the caw of crows and the coo-coo of pigeons. The only other sound I could hear was that of a tractor from the farm beside the graveyard. From here you can look across to Cruachán to the left and the Comeraghs to the right. On this April afternoon the mountains were hazy in the sunshine. As I walked around I could smell freshly mown grass and the opening lines of Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Cut Grass’ seemed especially appropriate in this place –
Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death
I prefer nowadays to find my spiritual sustenance through art, through people or at times being alone in nature. A church that has fallen open to the sky tells me something about the beauty in old stone and also prompts me to slow down, gain some perspective, take a longer view.
And here is the burial place of the Houlihan Family, my husband’s people. Because they were blacksmiths the grave is marked with an iron cross with a lance and staff, very likely made in their own forge in Tinhalla.
But I think my impulse to take this detour on Good Friday was to get a sense of my own great-grandmother, Mary Cullinane, of Old Grange. Mary is also buried here but her grave remained unmarked except for an annual showing of daffodils in the spring. However a path was recently created by the Office of Public Works that now obliterates her resting place. But I’m discovering that Mary was quite a remarkable woman and there is a story to be told.