Where Old Ghosts Meet

Growing up in the poverty of 1940s Dublin 10 Year old Danny Flynn relates the roller coaster events of his childhood as his mother tries to hold her family of 6 children together in the face of overwhelming odds.


1. The Wake


       The city of Derry lay sleeping under a blanket of hard frost. On its north side a few hundred yards from the river, the residents of Daisymount Park took their rest, warm against the cruel night outside. Under the street lamps frost sparkled yellow in pools of light, complimenting the magical shimmer of the few Christmas trees still alight in the quiet cul de sac.                  

On the panelled door of number 30, a black wreath, its edges crusted white, was swinging in the gathering breeze. From a small window to the left of the door, a dim light, almost indiscernible in the star filled night, shone through a chink in the drawn curtains. The larger window to the right was ablaze with light and streaming condensation. Inside, Vincent Flynn stood alone in the small wake room looking down at the mortal remains of his mother.  His eyes travelled from her marble white face, down the length of her satin shroud.

Around her feet Mass cards had been neatly arranged like a child’s birthday cards.  He squinted in the dimness of the room to read the scrawled signatures and tried to match each with a face. His eyes returned to the white features, searching their every detail as though in the hope there had been some terrible mistake and she might blink her eyes open to see him standing there. Vincent touched the forehead, tracing a sign of the cross over the icy cold skin. A long forgotten childhood fear of the dead came back sending a shiver racing down his spine.            

    The room was stillness save for the lament of the rising wind and the deep flickering shadows being cast from a blessed candle on the small table next to the coffin. A photograph of his brother Anthony and his wife, taken in happier times, smiled down at him from the wall.  Vincent looked across the room at the polished coffin lid waiting against the wall and read the inscription on the brass plate 


  SARAH FLYNN                                                                                            


  AGED 70   R. I. P. 


 He listened to the muted babble of voices floating across the hall from the living room.  It had been many years since the Flynn’s had been all together.  Josephine had flown in from America earlier in the day, her first time back in Derry in over 20 years, and Bosco and Teresa had taken the ferry across from England. Only Vincent, Anthony and Columba still lived in Derry. It was such a pity, he thought to himself, that their reunion was to say goodbye to the women who had devoted her life in trying to protect them through difficult and turbulent times. 

There were several more hours till daylight broke and Vincent walked across the narrow hall to join his family before the undertakers arrived to take Sarah from them and to her final resting-place. The room was packed to overflowing with chattering mourners but Vincent managed to find a corner and was thankful to be able to sit down. Anthony’s wife came in from the kitchen carrying yet another tray full of rattling tea cups and began to pass them around the mourners. Through tired red eyes Vincent looked at each of his brothers and sisters in turn and thought how they had changed from the family they had once been. While they were now all reasonably well off it had not always been like that.  



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