Today is my Granny’s 99th birthday.
Like many emigre women that were born in British colonies, she lived through an anti colonial guerrilla struggle, a civil war, a decimated family, frequent moving around from country to country, the prospect of raising a family in an economically devastated country, coping alone due to an absent husband who lived where the work was and unremitting prejudice and racism. I have never faced a single one of those things, because of the struggle she went through, so that I would never had to.
She was only 5 when the war of independence broke out, and 10 when the civil war ended. She spent those five years cycling into the Mayo mountains with food, supplies and arms sewn into her dress to give to her brothers fighting in the republican army, surviving through regular raids on her home, where her father was put up against the wall at gunpoint and demanded information from, where her and her sisters pretended to be asleep and prayed they wouldn’t be noticed, where her mother was arrested at church from a tip off of their republican involvement, her beloved younger sister died of tuberculosis and two of her brothers attended the funeral in chains with British army officers, allowed only to leave the prison cell where they awaited execution to attend their sister’s funeral, where her brother died in agony from a wound from a grenade, for fear of calling the doctor and being reported as having partaken in the violence. All this, before she was even 10.
It took my Granny until she was in her 70s to openly talk about the trauma she had been through, and the damage it had done her.
There is far more tragedy and hardship that she and millions of other migrant women went through, and go through, and it is important that be remembered, and fought against, but today, because my Granny, and millions like her did the one thing they were never supposed to do, they survived, 6 children,12 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, 31 people, exist, and love and remember her fondly.
As Bobby Sand said, ‘our revenge will the laughter of our children.’ She really embodied that.
I post about badass republicans all the time, but never the most important of all. Thanks for always being so perfect, for surviving through hardship that I’ll never know, and for living to tell the tale. x