The scene yesterday outside a farm at Assolas, Castlemagner near Kanturk, County Cork, where three members of a family lost their lives in a suspected murder suicide early on Monday

Slightly Bemused writes:

One thing that struck me when reading and listening to interviews about the tragedy in Cork is with this lockdown the community cannot rally around the bereaved wife and mother, and their families, cannot show sympathy in the way Irish normally do. They are limited in how many households, and household members may interact. And how many may attend the sending off of the loved ones. But the whole country empathises.

October last, my family said goodbye to one of my brothers. He was struck by a car along with two others in 1978, and at that time my town would have been about similar in size, population, and occupation to the community of Castlemanger (although I think we may have had more horses). In many ways, this was the third of the deaths from that event, I guess the closing act of that day.

Pretty close to the entire town who were around at the time of my brother’s accident turned up last year to celebrate his life when he finally left. Many who would not have known them, but were in school with us younger ones still turned up a year ago. The community rallied round us then, and rallied around us again.

I am sure they all know each other in Castlemanger, and would want to all be there for that family. I know the mother is the only one left in that immediate family, but there are the extended familiesĀ of sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles. And the entire community wants to help them.

But cannot.

One year on from the strength we were offered by our community is not available to this one in the same way.

Or so it seems. It is not the public outpourings of grief or support on the day that matters, for all that it is vital at the time. It is the other little things that help. The things that continue beyond that first day and week.

I went out for my shopping today, and was surprised only when I got home to think about it that I realised how much support was still there. From the lady at the counter who was a school buddy and wished my family well, to the wonderful hairdresser who cannot now but gave my mother all the gossip, to waving at my geography teacher (who taught all of us in a cold prefab in a field that is now an Aldi) even today as we passed a healthy social distance away. Just a few of the community I live in that still supports us.

Coming from a community that still rallies around a family that was in grief, I know that the community of Castlemanger will rally around this family. And it will not end once the headlines go away.

Such communities are there, always. They may not be able to embrace, but they will find ways. While I wish my deepest sympathies to the families affected in Cork and beyond, the real support that will keep them going is their community

They say time heals all wounds. I disagree, but the communities help you bear them, help you face another day.

One more PM to be completed following Kanturk deaths (C103)

Kanturk unites around bereaved as garda investigation into triple killing continues (Irish Examiner)

Pic: C103

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19 thoughts on “How Community Heals

    1. Vanessanelle

      We’re not

      and I sincerely hope this one part of what it really means to be Irish
      how we send off our deceased
      doesn’t go the way of the slow set in this new Normal

  1. Redundant Proofreaders Society

    Very touching, Slightly Bemused, and condolences to you. However, you make assumptions. Not everyone suffering a bereavement wants their neighbours to ‘rally’ around them. The long line to the door of uninvited housewives bearing apple pies and telling you ‘time heals’ is an Irish tradition that many would like to see firmly in the past.

    1. Janet, dreams of warm feet

      I know to my folks it’s a big point of conversation, the turnout after you’re gone, it pains them to see only a handful, a poor turnout

          1. Janet, dreams of warm feet

            current favorite is the wildest waviest most isolated spot facing the atlantic off the north west coast

          2. Janet, dreams of warm feet

            and yourself ?
            ( may be up for revision of I retire in Kerala or South of France ;) )

          3. Slightly Bemused

            My plan was to be flushed down the toilet but a friend talked me out of it. Apart from the ‘you will clog up the drains’ argument, it was pointed out that I would not eventually get to the sea. Most likely a water treatment plant. And however good a friend they were, drinking my remains did not factor in at all!

          4. Slightly Bemused

            Yeah. The whole vampire thing of ‘I vant to drink your blood’ sort of did not vibe with morning cups of tea, somehow :-)

    2. ian-oh

      I felt that way (about the neighbours rallying around) until I lost my mother. I was blown away by the steady stream of people who called not just to say their condolences but to tell me little tales of how she had done good by them over the years.

      My cynicism just evaporated and now I think its a great thing and one that people need no matter what they might think. True its not for everyone but if an old cynic like me can have his mind changed?

      Anyway, powerful, heartfelt piece there Slightly Bemused, thanks for sharing, you brought a little light in with the sadness, so thank you. Its good to remember our humanity in this way.

  2. Bebe

    Beautifully written SB – recalling my mums passing over a year ago and the outpouring of support from our community which continues today with phone calls etc. You are never alone in a small community such as ours and members provide the strength we need at times of loss. This is such a tragedy. RIP

  3. Vanessanelle

    Beautifully written Slightly, condolences to you and all yours, the measure of your brother’s place in your family and your community, is all there to be seen in that send off. It was my own Mother’s anniversary over the weekend, and oddly enough I had more people reach out to me with sincere thoughts and intentions, than I had when she died two years ago.

    I hope you don’t mind me plugging this in here under your thread, but I can never remind people of this enough,

    one aspect of this tragedy in Cork that I am very familiar with, and see it regularly,
    and can speak of with some significant experience, is Money,
    The money that is in your own pocket

    When it comes to money folks,
    Behind closed doors, and in the privacy of a home, or HR/ Payroll office, people you think you know better than yourself, can very different
    So different, they would be unrecognisable, people you have known all your life, the stories I could tell you would make you shudder

    Aggression, Betrayal, Greed, and loads more ugly human vices, they’re all there

    Money at all levels will corrupt even the kindest soul

  4. Slightly Bemused

    Thank you all for your kind words.

    My sincere condolences to you, Vanessanelle and ian-oh, the loss of a mother is not something that is easy. I still talk to mine, including in the shopping aisle as I am trying to decide what to buy for dinner, and I can hear her voice telling me to take the healthy option. Just as I was as a child, I do not always listen.

    I must have missed the oceans of apple pies (just kidding) but it truly was the attitude of my community that helped me. It was more the quiet support that helped, which did occasionally mean leaving me totally alone, with just a nod as they passed. They made it clear they did not want to intrude, but they are there if needed.

    Someone who read this today made a comment which I share with their permission: your community supports you when times are tough because you support your community when times are tough. The good times are easy.
    Pithy, but does not really roll off the tongue.

    God, I miss pubs! That is where so many of these issues are discussed, examined, and resolutions provided, over a sacrifice to the God of Yeast and Barley, who gains the essence of the drink, leaving behind a mere shell that as a supplicant you must finish before going home for dinner.

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