August 01-02 1992
by Mary Tennant

Second Leaving

A welcome sign, a straight road stretching as far as the eye could see and each homestead lovingly marked. Fields of flowers while Rose Bushes, Lilacs and Tigar Lilies guard foundations made with hands of hope over one hundred and fifty years ago. As it must have been then, the rich soil shows us a promise to provide bounty as well as beauty. It has been said this place reminds one of Ireland.

At the enterance of our meeting place -- a lovely green field high on a hill over looking a huge valley -- three flags stand proud while whipped by a warm, wet wind. Over three seasons of planning and much work, we are here. Some said "let it be, forget the separation, the broken hearts and the sadness of leaving". Then, a familiar face, the band playing happy music and memories go back forty years. We speak of times of birth and death and occassions inbetween.

We gather as many as can in the big tent. A native son greets us. A Bishop from the next village remembers our families and greets his high school mate. She too followed the religious life -- the only native daughter to do so. A politician claims roots. A Brigadier-General tells of his military career beginning on these fields. Blessings are offered by a familiar looking priest.

There are so many pictures to look at, so many friends and neighbors to greet. Tears of joy appear as we recognize each other. After the Brass Band finishes our own take up their instruments and once again the Irish music flows over the hills and vails. Let us not forget those who never knew our times as we do. We make them welcome to the place of our birth and to friends of our youth. We hear todays music -- Achey Breaky Heart -- and we remember we stand in the present even though feelings of the past surround us. Five sisters once again sing, dance and pick wild flowers from the field of their family farm. Iri rememberance, a Plaque is unvailed in a place of honor in our Cemetary by the last to leave his home.

We take time'to worship. A make-shift altar is erected. Three priest share the offering of the Mass. Two never knew us as we were. The other, a member of our parish and who has travelled to far away Missions, relates tales of his youth among us. He gives a short history of our homeland.: A choir sings of peace and love. Prayers are offered for unity, peace and rememberance of those who have gone from these lands. The server today celebrates her fourteenth birthday.

The inspiration of a few became a reality and with the help of many hands, a short time of tremendous enjoyment for hundreds. There was the one who can claim his birth to be among the last in this place, who gave light to modernize the secluded area. This also enabled another to share her favorite past-time -- Bingo -- with us.

Family members came from far to renew their friendships as well as be together at home once more. For forty years we kept memories in our hearts never dreaming it was possible to gather here again. So many deserve thanks for making that wonderful gathering possible. To the military for stepping aside and opening their gates for us to allow free access for that marvellous week-end.

As it was the first time -- when it came time to leave -- we quietly slipped away from the crowd, got into our vehicles and drove down the dark lonely road. A hugh silver moon high in a star studded sky shone down on the hills and valleys. With total darkness surrounding us in a silent night, we were gently transported from the past back into our present day lives. Memories were tucked once again back in our hearts. We will keep in touch! We will gather again!