By Bosco – Irish Sentinel Contributor –
On an acre of land, divided into four small fields lived the Kelly family. Mom and Dad, Susan and Tony, and their four children; Conor 19 years, Saoirse 17, Patrick 15 and little Victoria 11. The Kelly family had lived on these grounds for many years, centuries in fact. The residence was a refurbished farm house, the old home of Tony’s parents who had died two decades ago. The farmhouse before the costly restoration, had a quaint, albeit dilapidated, appearance. The stone walls that encircled the main building still betrayed the scars of past occupiers, one of which had forcibly removed the Kelly family from their own land. For a period, the Kelly family, during this time, had to live on a small holding just to survive, until a future generation, now long consigned to history themselves, restored proper ownership of the land to its rightful heirs.
Tony and Susan, upon the death of the patriarch of the Kelly family, moved into the home to care for old Mrs Kelly, and sadly the octogenarian didn’t last too long, consumed not by cancer but grief on the passing of her husband, causing in her an emptiness that could not be filled, even with the cries of laughter of grandchildren playing.
Tony and Susan then inherited the home and some mould that invaded the house during the winter months when the cold met the warmth of radiators where condensation was born causing mould to fester. Susan who had no real love for the authenticity of the home, insisted for change and her husband Tony, who was always considered a rather weak man, caved to his wife’s incessant demands. “Out with the old and in with the new” was the motto for the Kelly’s, or most of them at any rate. Little Victoria, technically the youngest and most immature, age wise, had harboured resistance but she was dismissed as an irritation at worst, an avenue to direct a chuckle at best.
The other children, they hated the house, the land, every wall, every door, every window pain. They hated their own home. They would have been content to dismantle or even knock down the entire edifice, to sell off the land and give it away for free. The children over time became more and more vocal, loud even during the renovations themselves, renovations funded from outside banks and credit unions. The children’s engaged in a constant battle of whinging and whining claiming that the land which the family had in their possession, land excavated of rocks and stones by the blood soaked hands of mere peasant people, could be used to house others, that the Kelly’s had no right to a land their ancestors had fought to retain. Many of those long dead Kelly’s having sacrificed themselves to preserve the realty for the benefit of generations to come.
The parents too saw opportunities. Land had become very expensive to buy and they now considered selling off the four fields to fund the several extravagant holidays they had begun to take. While the parents began to taste the addictive qualities of a new lifestyle of persistent shopping, the governance of the home began to be usurped by the children, especially the loudest, Saoirse. During one event when the parents had absented themselves on a weeks trip to Rome during the school term, the children left to their own devices, began to dismantle antiques, a very old grandfather clock which had chimed with stoicism even during the harshest of winters providing a constant reassurance to those dwelling in the house that time and their present suffering was mere fleeting. Gone and destroyed too were the sets of crockery, beloved by every generation. So beloved that they were contained in an ornate glass cabinet exhumed only on the arrival of a guest to impress. IN their place was cheap, mass-produced IKEA plates, cups and saucers, devoid of personality and effortlessly bland. A crippled rocking chair that had housed generations of Patriarchs was violently thrown into a skip alongside a brass bath faded of its sheen, discarded hours earlier with even more cruelty. Worst of all, sets of rosary beads that had been handed down from generation to generation, none baring any tangible value yet priceless for the circumstances within which they would have been held, held tightly during famine and persecution, now were cast aside, ripped apart prior to disposing.
When the parents returned, they didn’t even notice the priceless objects missing, they were too busy wheeling and dealing with auctioneers to sell one more portion of land to fund their next grand escape. The older children soon forgot their days destruction, their heads buried in the screens of their phones and Saoirse pouting and correcting, pouting and correcting one more time for one more image for her Instagram. The older boys were distracted by their favourite football gossip, a new transfer apparently was on the way.
Meanwhile, only one voice dared raise her voice, a child of 11, Victoria who wrote in her diary “This land, this house does not belong to my parents, it doesn’t belong to my siblings, it doesn’t even belong to me. Why do they give it away? The owner of the house and the land that surrounds it belongs to my family but a family whose members include those I visit in the graveyard, bodies six foot under but whose lives are still much alive, and those I will meet in the future, those yet to be even counted as alive. it includes those Kelly’s whose memories are hidden in past, and those Kelly’s whose imaginings are yet to be born in the future. And yet, yet, I am ignored, a child to be mocked and laughed at. Who will hear my small voice who wants to mind every heirloom, even the peeling wallpaper that speaks so many stories to me, but I am silence as the din about me cries for change”.
This is a story of Ireland where the adults have abandoned their duty to selfish narcissistic children. It describes absent neglectful parents who live in the moment like a spoilt teenager, caring little for the country they squander and failing to guide their children to preserve a priceless culture. One hope remains, little Victoria, a voice of sincerity but ridiculed. Victoria, just like nationalism, is growing, and like Victoria, her voice is soft and barely audible, for the time being. The child’s diary too records, as history will record, the reckless disregard of those who sold our heritage and destroyed it violently without a minute’s thought, so that, in time, when nationalism, like little Victoria, becomes of age, justice will be meted out for those who squandered the heirlooms of our nation.