Ireland and Mental Health

walk-in-my-shoes

 

Over the past few months I have had to face the reality of a mental illness;
an illness I never thought I would have to confront but yet out of the blue I was struck down
with depression and stress. I have now ended up in this hospital to hopefully get well again.

When I decided to get help I told my family not to say anything about where I was or what was wrong with me for fear of the stigma which is applied to mental illness by members of the population who draw un-knowledgeable conclusions, I was one of that population, that made those assumptions. That is, until I came in here and saw the real problems that people who suffer from a mental illness have to face in their daily lives and it does not make healthy viewing. In fact it is horrific, hence, the picture / slogan ‘walk in my shoes’ because until you have walked in those shoes you will never understand the turmoil that people and families actually endure when a loved one has a mental illness. I know I didn’t and that is the reason I am writing this as I hope to bring some little understanding of the problem. So, over the next few weeks I hope to write a few words about my experience and the various treatments I receive while I recover from my own event/ illness.

When I arrived into hospital the first thing that struck me was the quietness and the welcome offered to me by the nursing staff  as they showed me to my bed in a four bed ward. As I settled into the ward one of things that shook me was the number of young people from their late teens and early twenties who were in my ward and the other wards and private rooms around me, these were not the type of people anyone would expect to meet in St Patrick’s as they are in most cases from good and caring homes who are upper working to middle class where health insurance would be the norm but where depression would be the exception ( that would be my perception ).

After a few days as I settled in and over a cup of tea got to speak to my fellow patients. I was to discover that these young people were all 3rd level students who are in their 1st or 2nd year of their courses at university and are in most cases plagued by the fear of failure which has led to serious bouts of depression leading to loss of confidence and self- esteem and in some cases drugs and suicidal thoughts, not at all what I expected!!!! 

What I did expect were people in their late 30s+ who might have an ongoing illness or following the banking crisis, financial problems or marriage breakup and yes there are people here suffering depression as a result of all of the above but not nearly as many as the young people and I have to say it came as major shock. 

Once I got over the shock of my first few days and following meeting my doctor and his team I learned about my illness and realized that I was suffering from an illness just like any other. But this time it was an illness of the mind which was brought on by life experience and early retirement at the age of 52 following major surgery in 2004 and last being in 2015.   

Over the years this led to feelings of uselessness, loss of self worth, and of being a burden on my family which in turn led to a deep depression.

I am now here 3 weeks and entering my 4th week , during this time I have got my own private room with its own bathroom which allows a tremendous amount freedom and privacy as the doctors assessed my progress and continue to  administer my medication to correct the chemical balance in my brain. I have also attended several workshops which have helped me to fully understand and come to terms with my illness. These workshops would include The Depression Recovery Service, which is a program of talks and lectures given by specially trained therapists in a group setting. This program lasts 3 weeks and has 8 sessions/lectures a week and is something I found really helpful and beneficial towards my ongoing recovery as I recover my confidence and self worth. The biggest part of this is the ability to share my story with others as well as listening to their stories and the reasons for their illnesses. It also explains in ordinary language the causes of depression and how the two parts of the brain communicate with each other, how to watch for triggers which may set off an episode of mild depression and if not treated could lead to a more serious bout of depression so that when I leave this hospital I will have the tools to look after my mental health.

The other treatment I will receive whilst I am here will be a course called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

This is a therapy which helps people overcome negative thoughts  and turn them into positives.

This therapy helps people who have serious difficulties with the past which may have been caused by a trauma or serious illness or even post traumatic stress disorder as it bores down into the possible reasons for your depression.

Up to the end of this week and 6 weeks of hospitalization I have now had 3 sessions of ( CBT  )  during which, in conjunction with The Depression Recovery Service, has given me a real deep insight into what caused my severe depression  but more important it has given me the tools on how to deal with it should it ever happen again

I have a further 3 weeks to go when my treatment will be completed and I return to living my life to the full, where I will be able understand the connections between physical health and mental health and to face  these challenges with the knowledge and confidence that yes I can, at 68 years of age still be of service and help to my family and community.

That is why I will continue  to ask people, do not judge people who have suffered a severe depression, who have lost their self-worth or have lost their self esteem who in many cases have lost their  will to live   

SO I ASK YOU,

DO NOT JUDGE, DO NOT STIGMATIZE,  

AS ONE DAY YOU OR A LOVED ONE  MAY HAVE TO  WALK IN OUR SHOES  

{In conclusion I wish to thank the nursing staff the doctors the therapist’s and all the staff at Saint Patrick’s University hospital Dublin for their care in my recovery }

 

 

 

An Irish Republican Mother, Margaret McGuinness Kelly 4th january 1900 –3rd april 1983

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(above left my mother sitting and Winnie Carney standing this photo was taken after  my mothers wedding Winnie was her bridesmaid circa 1933)  right my mother )

This is my late mother, Margaret McGuinness Kelly, born 4th January 1900 to John McGuinness and Mary McClean who both were founding members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union along with her mother’s brother Alfie McClean who was to become the General Secretary of the Belfast branch of the union and James Connolly’s election agent  when he stood for election in 1907/1911 for the dock ward for Belfast corporation. It was at this time that my mother met with Winnie Carney and formed a friendship that was to last a lifetime, Winnie  was an assistant to James Connolly and  was later to become his secretary.

 As time progressed into the 1913 to 1926 period her mother joined Cumman Na mBan who rose as far as i know to Officer Commanding Belfast. This brought her into contact with Countess Markievicz, Sir John Lavery, Lady Gregory, and other.  In the mean time my mother was to meet Joe McKelvey around 1918  and they were to become as they say ‘good friends’. Joe was later to become leader of the IRA in Belfast during the war of independence which he survived. After the treaty Joe took the republican side and was later murdered by the Free State forces when he was taken from his cell in Mountjoy Jail and shot.  They also shot Rory O’Connor, Dick Barton and Liam Mellows as an act of revenge for the attack by republicans on Kevin O’Higgins who was Justice Minister of the Free State, who had a lot of republican blood on his hands. After the civil war and the murder of Joe McKelvey she continued her involvement in Sinn Fein.

In 1926 Eamon de Valera  stood as a Sinn Fein candidate and as Sinn Fein a party which was banned in Northern Ireland he was arrested charged and sentenced to 3 months in jail. It was my grandmother and mother who were designated to look after dev while he was in jail i.e. his washing and food requirements.  This was done pre the founding of Fianna Fail which was to become the final hammer blow to any chance of getting changes to the treaty. 

It was also in this period that she lost her father  who while leading a strike by low docks workers they were attacked by the RIC  and he was killed, leaving my grandmother with 3 sons William, James and John,plus my mother who was the youngest and was very close to her.

As my mother and grandmother got older and the demise of Sinn Fein took hold and as a small family needed to be reared, my mother made contact with her grandfather McGuinness who lived in Portaferry, Co Down  who in turn introduced her to farmers in the area providing the seed money, enabling herself and her mother set up a small wholesale /retail green grocery business in Belfast Market  (which she and my father continued to operate right up to 1970)  

 Around 1930 she met my father John Kelly. At that time he was working in the Irish News, they got married in 1933.  Her great friend Winnie Carney was her bridesmaid, they went on to have 9 children, whom they educated to the highest standards 2 teaching nuns, 2 engineers, a cost accountant, a solicitor, a nurse, my oldest sister and I both at separate times worked in the business, you can see from this that there was not much left at the end of the week for luxuries but we never went without anything. 

This continued right through my younger years up to 1956 when everything for me and my brothers and sisters  changed.  My oldest sister had emigrated to Canada where her husband got a job as a ships engineer working in the Arctic Circle,  My other two sisters had entered into the convent to become nuns which both of them did and became teachers. That left John, Billy, Rita , Jimmy, Oliver  and myself  at home.  But things were to change and change utterly, the hunger for justice,  equality and freedom was once again to raise its head in our house and once again it was to take precedence, once again my mother was to step up to the plate.  

It was a cold December 1956 and our home in Adela Street off the Antrim Road was raided by the B Specials and the RUC, John had been arrested in a place called Dunamanagh between Dungiven and Strabane along with 2 other members of his flying column John Madden from Cork City and David Lewsley from Lurgan Co Armagh. All three were charged with arms offences and membership of the IRA and sentenced to 8 years in prison.

About  two weeks later my other brother Billy was also arrested and interned for 4 years.

This was to be the start of a 8 yr period of providing care to the republican prisoners from the country and the Free State of which there was quite few.  This involved providing them with their fruit parcel every week plus she would have made up a salad every Saturday consisting of either salmon or beef which would have been cooked on the Friday night with the scallions and other greens made ready on the Saturday morning along with a large block of cheese  i don’t know how many it catered for but  she was always assured that it was the highlight of the week for the prisoners. At this time our house was an open door to all relatives who where visiting their sons and brothers and many of those coming from Dublin, Cork, Kerry would have stayed at our home, some of them for a week at a time, all of this was done in my mothers quiet way  and very few outside our home would have known about it

This work continued right up to 1964 when John was released, as i think he and John Madden were the last to be released  

A kind of normal returned our house but that was not to last too long as 1969 bore down on us, once again she had to step up to the plate 

As John was the leader of the Citizens Defence Committees in Belfast our home once again became the nerve centre  with all of the worlds press descending on us  along with the various Fianna Fail politicians right up to Paddy Hillary who was at that time Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Based on the information provided to us at that time we all felt that as the world’s press was watching the British and the Unionist  by exposing the various types of victimisation being imposed on the nationalist community that things were going to change and that Lynch and his government were going to help by providing the guns and training for nationalists to enable us to defend our community from further attacks as the talks process was to take place between the British and the Irish governments which would lead to the end of the Orange state of Northern Ireland  and pave the way to a united Ireland 

While all this was going on my father and mother tried to keep our business on the go but even that was to be destroyed in may 1970 when out of the blue Lynch and his free state government ordered the arrest of john, Charles Haughey( MINISTER OF FINANCE IN HIS GOVERNMENT) Capt  James Kelly Irish Army intelligence, Neil Blaney also  a minister in his government along with a Irish/Belgian  business man who was a close friend of Blaneys.  All were charged with trying to import guns and ammunition for the north and brought to trial but found not guilty by a jury of 12 people and all charges dismissed.

The result of this on our family was devastating, our business was destroyed and in November of that year my father was found dead in the yard of our home after he suffered a fatal heart attack which we all felt was brought on by the actions of Jack Lynch and the Free State.  Once again the person she loved was taken from her by the actions of the free state government, first Joe McKelvey and now her husband for whom she bore 9 children

As time  went on and the provisional IRA was formed by John and Billy along with others lots of members of what was to become the IRA were frequent visitors to our home  at which time she would drown them in holy water and the rosary as they left the house it became a standing joke around the place .

Then came internment and the war really got hot.  Oliver ( a qualified solicitor) was interned and the rest of us were on the run or helping in any way we could but she kept helping out in anyway she could, it was in the blood and her hunger for justice and an end of the orange state was ever strong.

The first attempt on her life was in 1975.  I had just been arrested in her home and was charged, 3 weeks after that while i was on remand the Unionist murder gang supported by the UDR /RUC/ British Army blew up our home in an attempt to murder her.  It failed as they left the front door of the house open and the bomb blew away from her out onto the road instead of into the house but enough damage was done to the house that it had to be knocked down. Luckily my older sister had just returned from the US and had bought a house near by and she was able to quickly get back into another house.

As interment was over and things started to settle down for her and as she was at this time a woman of age she became less involved but then came the hunger strikes. It was at this time that the UVF/British struck again as  she was walking to Mass she stopped to speak to her son my brother Billy as he was manning a hunger strike cadge they pulled up in a motorbike and they where attempting to murder Billy she got in front of them they  shot her 5 times  but she survived for a further 2 years, one of the bullets they could not remove,  shifted and entered her pancreas which ruptured, she died in the Mater hospital Belfast on the 3rd of April 1983  surrounded by all her children.

Due to her relationship with the Belfast Mater Hospital, the nuns requested that we lay her out in state in the hospital chapel overlooked by the nuns. It was a great honour for our family, and we will always be grateful to the Mercy Order of nuns. For me, a true mother of Ireland — strong, quiet, loyal. No talk, just get on with it; and she did until the day she died.

In conclusion as I reflect on my mother and her life I realise just how lucky I am to be her son and to have inherited her commitment to helping others less well off and to have an inherent love of Ireland and its people .

As I enter my own twilight years  I think of my own mortality , the one thing I know for sure is that when its my time to leave this world it will be her standing at the door as she did when I was a child calling me home 

thank you mother for your guidance and your protection in my life 

Rest in peace your loving son 

philip  

    

IAN PAISLEY A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

The DUP’s Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson during an election campaign in the 1970s.

 

Over the past days  I have read , heard , and seen , people all excusing the Paisley of old and praising the Paisley of recent times and his efforts for peace, the only person who I heard today who gave any sort of balanced view on Paisley was Dr Ferriter from UCD , but I would like to give a first hand view of Dr Paisley from the point of view of a nationalist living in Belfast  in the 50s,60s,70s,  a man who at every turn destroyed every move at reconciliation to nationalist or any move to equality for the catholic people , he was someone who always played to the lowest common dominator of fear and bigotry, I will explain how , he terrorised and brutalised people of both communities.

To my memory it all started back in 1964 with the westminster election and the entry of sinn fein into politics this was long before any campaign  for civil rights but the right of a nationalist / republican to stand in election for the west belfast westminster seat, the candidate was Liam Mcmillan.This event was to be the start of the end of  armed struggle and the entry into a political path.I explained in other blogs,  all of the men who came out of the jails after the border campaign from 1956 to 1960 had seen the futility of armed struggle and went on their way or got involved in the political struggle.

This was to be a normal rational election , sinn fein as a political party, standing up for their people , we opened an election office in the lower falls at the corner of dover street just across the road from st comgalls school ,as this was our headquarters the national flag of ireland ( the tricolor) was put up in the window, no one took any notice and that included the RUC but not Paisley he demanded that this flag be taken down and out of the window or he would led a demonstration of loyalist  and create civil disorder, the RUC as usal secummed and they then moved on the office smashed the window and removed the flag ,this in turn led to 3 days of riots and civil disturbance including the use of shortland armoured cars by the B Specials and heavy machine guns. 

This in turn led to the murder of Peter Ward a catholic barman of which Gusty Spence was found guilty, the various explosions around north County  Antrim committed by his loyalist followers in an effort to stir up fear and to create the impression that there was an IRA campaign starting,

This was all in an effort to stop and undermine the changes being pursued  by the then Northern Ireland Prime  Minister Capt Terence  O’Neill who was trying to improve  relations with the Republic, of which he was up to  a point  successful,

His opposition to and his determined hate of nationalists and Catholics  led to the destruction of the peaceful civil rights movement  as nationalist’s walked the roads and by roads of the north  for justice, equality in jobs, homes,justice and culture, his on going preaching of hate towards the catholic and nationalist community was the spark for the programs off 1969 , and the burning out of 3000 catholic homes and families including the murder of innocent Catholics across Belfast which led to the 30 year war .

During this time off conflict Paisley found every way to oppose any form of comprise with the nationalist community, which cost the lives of in excess of 3600 lives including nationalist, unionist and British

So I don’t believe that paisley  was a peacemaker the only reason he accepted the Good Friday Agreement  Which he never signed but instead negotiated a add on which was the St Andrew agreement which Incorporated the Good Friday Agreement was because Tony Blair stood up to him with a choice power shearing or joint authority.  

 Paisley was never going to allow that to happen on his watch !!

The question now is has anything  changed in 2017?  ? It would seem not as the bigots of unionism have not gone away you know , but then again neither have the nationalist / republicans as we continue our fight for equality,  justice, and recognition  of our culture and language

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first posted 2014 updated Oct 2017

A DAY OF PILGRIMAGE, A LOOK BACK

Philip Kelly Ireland.com

TO DAY I WENT TO ONE OF IRELAND’S HOLY PLACES OF PILGRIMAGE, THE HOLY SHRINE OF KNOCK WHERE ITS SAID THAT IN 1879 OUR HOLY MOTHER MARY APPEARED TO 15 PEOPLE ON THE GABLE WALL OF THE LOCAL STONE BUILT CHURCH IN THE MIDDLE OF MAYO .

AS A CHILD OF 6 YRS MY MOTHER AND FATHER  DECIDED IT WAS TIME I ALSO CAME ALONG, WHICH CAME AS A SURPRISE TO ME AS I WAS TOLD THE YEAR BEFORE ‘YOU ARE TOO YOUNG’, BUT THIS YEAR 1954 I COULD JOIN THE REST OF THE KELLY FAMILY AND UNDERTAKE THE GREAT ADVENTURE TO KNOCK SHRINE IN MAYO ON THE 3RD SUNDAY OF AUGUST!

THE NIGHT BEFORE, PREPARATION WOULD BEGIN. AT 7PM, AS ON ALL OTHER NIGHTS IN OUR HOUSE, DADDY GOT TO HIS KNEES AND STARTED THE FAMILY ROSARY. NO ONE LEFT THE HOUSE UNTIL AFTER THE ROSARY, BUT ON THIS SATURDAY…

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A DAY OF PILGRIMAGE, A LOOK BACK

I first posted this article in 2014.  Its a true description of a yearly trip my family would make for 10 years or more this is a memory of my first trip 1954

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TO DAY I WENT TO ONE OF IRELAND’S HOLY PLACES OF PILGRIMAGE, THE HOLY SHRINE OF KNOCK WHERE ITS SAID THAT IN 1879 OUR HOLY MOTHER MARY APPEARED TO 15 PEOPLE ON THE GABLE WALL OF THE LOCAL STONE BUILT CHURCH IN THE MIDDLE OF MAYO .

AS A CHILD OF 6 YRS MY MOTHER AND FATHER  DECIDED IT WAS TIME I ALSO CAME ALONG, WHICH CAME AS A SURPRISE TO ME AS I WAS TOLD THE YEAR BEFORE ‘YOU ARE TOO YOUNG’, BUT THIS YEAR 1954 I COULD JOIN THE REST OF THE KELLY FAMILY AND UNDERTAKE THE GREAT ADVENTURE TO KNOCK SHRINE IN MAYO ON THE 3RD SUNDAY OF AUGUST!

THE NIGHT BEFORE, PREPARATION WOULD BEGIN. AT 7PM, AS ON ALL OTHER NIGHTS IN OUR HOUSE, DADDY GOT TO HIS KNEES AND STARTED THE FAMILY ROSARY. NO ONE LEFT THE HOUSE UNTIL AFTER THE ROSARY, BUT ON THIS SATURDAY NO ONE LEFT AT ALL AS WE HAD AN EARLY START ON SUNDAY MORNING. SO IT WAS BATH TIME AND, YES, WE HAD AN INDOOR BATHROOM SO EVERYONE TOOK THEIR TURN. THE YOUNGEST FIRST, SO THAT WAS ME. WASHED, DRIED, CLEAN UNDERWEAR, AND MAM SHOUTING “MAKE SURE YOU CLEAN BEHIND THOSE EARS AND DRY YOUR HAIR!”. ONCE ALL THIS WAS DONE, IT WAS OFF TO BED. IT WAS LIKE WAITING FOR SANTA AT CHRISTMAS WITH ALL THE EXCITEMENT AND NO SLEEP, FOR TOMORROW I WOULD BE GOING ON THE GREAT BIG STEAM TRAIN TO KNOCK! BUT AS IN ALL THESES THINGS, I DID DRIFT OFF TO SLEEP.

KNOCK, KNOCK. “PHILIP, JIMMY, OLIVER, GET UP! ITS TIME TO GO FOR THE TRAIN!” I SIT UP IN MY BED, WIPE MY EYES AND LOOK AROUND THE OTHER TWO STILL LYING STILL AND HALF ASLEEP. KNOCK KNOCK AGAIN. “WILL YOU GET UP? WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!” SUDDENLY THEY STIR. “WHAT TIME IS IT?” OLIVER ASKS. “ITS 3.30,” SAYS DADDY. “GET READY.” I LOOK AT MY CLEAN CLOTHES ALL LAID OUT BY MAMMY THE NIGHT BEFORE. MY SCHOOL UNIFORM, WHICH I WILL PROUDLY WEAR ON THIS GREAT JOURNEY – MY BLAZER WITH THE CBS ST PATRICK’S PRIMARY SCHOOL  CREST, WHITE SHIRT, SCHOOL TIE, AND MY SHORT TROUSERS. ALL THREE OF US WORE THE SAME OUTFIT, EXCEPT ME. THE OLDER BROTHERS HAD LONG TROUSERS, AND RITA HAD HER DOMINICAN FORTWILLIAM GRAMMAR SCHOOL UNIFORM. AS USUAL, BOTH MAM AND DAD WERE TURNED OUT IN ALL THEIR FINERY. WE HAD A CUP OF TEA AND THE TAXI WAS AT THE DOOR. IT WAS TIME TO GO TO THE GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY STATION IN GREAT VICTORIA STREET TO MEET UP WITH ALL THE OTHER PILGRIMS ABOUT TO MAKE THIS GREAT JOURNEY TO KNOCK.

WHEN WE ARRIVE THERE IT’S A HIVE OF ACTIVITY WITH HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE QUEUING UP TO BOARD THEIR TRAINS WHICH WILL CARRY US AWAY. AS I WALK DOWN PAST THE TRAINS, I SEE ALL THE SICK PILGRIMS COMING OUT OF THE KNIGHTS OF MALTA AMBULANCES, SOME ON STRETCHERS AND WHEELCHAIRS. THEY WERE AIDED BY NURSES AND DOCTORS WHO I LATER FOUND OUT WERE ALL FROM THE MATER HOSPITAL ON THE CRUMLIN ROAD. THEY WERE SUPPORTED BY MEMBERS OF THE KNIGHTS IN THEIR WELL PRESENTED GREY UNIFORMS  WHO WOULD ACCOMPANY THEM ON THE JOURNEY. BUT AS A 6’YR OLD, MY MIND WAS ON OTHER THINGS LIKE THIS BIG STEAM ENGINE THAT WILL PULL US ALL THE WAY TO MAYO.

“ALL ABOARD! ALL ABOARD!” THE STATION MASTER SHOUTS. SO ON I GET WITH MY DAD HOLDING MY HAND. WE MOVE DOWN THE CARRIAGE LOOKING FOR OUR SEATS, AND I NOTICE THAT ALL THE TABLES ARE SET WITH CUPS AND SAUCERS AND CUTLERY. WE FIND OUR NAMES AND OUR SEATS AND WE ALL MOVE IN AND SETTLE DOWN FOR THE JOURNEY,

SOON THE TRAIN HOOTER SOUNDS AND WE ARE ON OUR WAY, PUFFING OUT OF THE STATION. I HAVE A WINDOW SEAT SO I CAN GET A LOOK AT THE VARIOUS SMALL STATIONS WE PASS, FROM DUNMURRY TO LURGAN, ALL THE WAY TO PORTADOWN, WHERE THE TRAIN IS STOPPED FOR CUSTOMS INSPECTION. YOU CAN FEEL THE TENSION AND THE HOSTILITY FROM THE CUSTOMS MEN , BUT WE STAYED QUIET AND LET THEM GET ON WITH THEIR JOB. AFTER WE RESTART, WE FEEL A SENSE OF RELIEF AND BREAKFAST IS SERVED. A FULL FRY AND BREAD AND BUTTER WITH TEA, AND WE ALL TUCK IN, BUT NOT BEFORE GRACE AND A DECADE OF THE ROSARY. AS MY DAD SAID “YOU’RE ON PILGRIMAGE!”

SOON WE ARE ACROSS THE BORDER AND HEADING FOR THE BIG VIADUCT ACROSS THE BOYNE RIVER IN DROGHEDA. WHAT A SIGHT FOR A CHILD! ON TO CONNOLLY STATION IN DUBLIN  WHERE WE STOP TO CHANGE ENGINES AND DRIVERS. WE ARE IN THE HANDS OF C.I.E AND A SENSE OF PEACE COMES OVER THE TRAIN AS PEOPLE RELAX AND LAUGH. WE ARE IN THE FREE STATE. WE ARE NOT ALLOWED OFF THE TRAIN AT THIS TIME AS THERE IS A LOT OF SHUNTING  BUT SOON AS WE GET TO HUSTON STATION, WE JUMP OFF TO STRETCH OUR LEGS. THE SMOKERS GET OFF TOO TO GET A FIX,  AS MY DAD DID. THERE HE BOUGHT THE IRISH PAPERS TO READ UP ON THE SPORTS AND THE NEWS, WHICH HE SHARED WITH OLIVER AND JIMMY,  AND THE JOURNEY CONTINUED. MORE PRAYERS, MORE TEA AND BISCUITS, AND MORE PRAYERS, BUT SOON WE ARRIVE IN CLAREMORRIS STATION IN COUNTY MAYO. THE TRAIN JOURNEY IS OVER.

WE ALL EXIT THE SMALL STATION AND MAKE OUR WAY UP THROUGH THE TOWN TO THE SQUARE WHERE WE MEET THE BUSES THAT WILL TAKE US TO KNOCK. THEY WERE SINGLE DECK LEYLAND BUSES WITH THE DRIVERS CAB SEPARATE FROM THE BODY OF PASSENGERS , LIKE THE OLD LONDON BUSES. MY LASTING MEMORY OF THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY WAS SEEING ALL THE WHITEWASHED COTTAGES AS WE MADE OUR WAY ALONG THIS COUNTRY ROAD. THE BEAUTY OF THAT SCENE HAS ALWAYS REMAINED WITH ME.

SOON WE ARRIVE AT THE CHURCH. THE BUS IS MARKED ‘ST PATRICKS BELFAST, NO’2’ AND WE MAKE OUR WAY TO THE CHURCH. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WALKING AROUND THE CHURCH SAYING THE ROSARY AND OTHER PRAYERS. WE SOON JOIN IN WALKING, MY FATHER HOLDING MY HAND IN CASE I WANDER OFF AND GET LOST IN THE HUGE CROWD OF PEOPLE. AFTER WE GO AROUND THE CHURCH THREE TIMES, WE GO OFF TO BUY SOME HOLY PICTURES, STATUES AND MEDALS, AS WELL AS HOLY WATER, AND ROSARY BEADS ALL TO BE BLESSED AT THE MASS FOR THE SICK LATER IN THE DAY. IT WAS ALSO A CHANCE TO GET SOME REFRESHMENTS OF TEA AND LEMONADE AND SANDWICHES BEFORE THE PARADE

AFTER WE HAVE DONE ALL THIS, WE LINE UP BEHIND OUR BANNER OF THE DIOCESES OF DOWN AND CONOR, WHERE WE MEET OTHER PILGRIMS FROM THE OTHER DIOCESES AROUND THE COUNTRY .

THE PARADE STARTS AROUND THE CHURCH AND WE DO THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS BEFORE HEADING BACK TO OUR AREA WHERE WE AWAIT THE MASS OF THE SICK. THE SICK ARRIVE WITH THEIR HELPERS AND ARE PLACED AT THE FRONT OF THE CHURCH WALL WHERE THEY ARE ANOINTED WITH HOLY OILS. I HEAR SOME OF THEM CRY AND AND OTHERS PRAY FOR THE GRACE TO CARRY THEIR CROSS, WHICH WAS EXPLAINED TO ME BY MY MOTHER. THIS WAS MY FIRST ENCOUNTER  WITH THE REAL SUFFERING OF THE SICK .

SOON IT WAS ALL OVER AND BY 5,PM WE WERE ALL BACK ON THE BUS, HEADING FOR THE TRAIN AND OUR LONG JOURNEY BACK TO BELFAST

The knock shrine off the past  knock church in my young daysour lady of knock

The knock shrine off today

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Who I am.

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My name is Philip Kelly, originally of Belfast, Ireland, but now of Mayo, Ireland. This blog will be concerned with politics both North and South of the Irish border.

It will also reflect my own and a history of  my family’s experiences of living in Northern Ireland  from 1907 to the present time. 

 I am now writing about  mental health and the lack of investment by the Irish  state into  helping and supporting the most vulnerable in our society

I hope you find my writings informative and they give you some insight into Ireland post 1922 right up to the present day 

Show the world how you treat your young , your old and your most vulnerable  and the world  will judge your greatness or failure

thank you