Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Memories of Cobh

Although the time I spent in Cobh was short ( we moved when I was 6 1/2) my memories of it are very clear. I remember it as the time before I experienced pain or sadness ( that I remember ). I did have a memory from that time of the night my brother drowned but that came much later when I was in therapy. Prior to that experience, I only remember being happy in Cobh.

I was an adventurous child. There are photos of my twin and I in the pram with me strapped in because I was always trying to get out, while Agnes sits there, docile, not in the least bit interested in what was happening outside the confines of the pram. I remember the feeling of wanting to know what was going on and wanting to see it all. I also started to walk at 9 months, which is a nightmare for a mother with only one child to deal with, but with 5 so young and two older children, it must have been really hard to know what to do with me. I do know that my mother used to tether me on a string to the leg of the kitchen table, to stop me from wandering off and getting into trouble. I would imagine that having lost a son not long before to drowning made her even more cautious. I remember feeling constrained by this rope that held me there and it may have been what set me up for a lifetime of hating constraint of any kind. I can't bear to be pinned down or captured where I cannot move. It is my worst nightmare to be tied up or to feel like I cannot move. This also translates into mental freedom. I don't like to feel caged in a relationship and have ended many a new one due to feeling this constraint.

I loved living by the sea and I believe that if you are born by the sea you always long for it. I loved going down to the harbour with my older sister to buy fish on Fridays and going to Cuskinny, the local beach. It was there, when I was about three that I was tossed over by a wave when I was stuck in a rubber ring and inhaled a lot of sea water. To this day I have an aversion to getting water up my nose and a mortal terror of falling into water. It was not helped by my brother's drowning and the probably anxiety that I picked up from the other family members when we were close to water. In any case, despite the fact that I adore to be by water, love boats etc, I am terrified of falling in and have never dived into water. I am a terrible swimmer because of this fear and one of my dreams is to learn how to swim properly and to get over my phobia. I have to always tell people who don't know me well not to mess around with me near water as I might drown them in my panic.

I went back to Cobh recently and was amazed by how colourful it now is compared to when we were kids. See the video above for the brightly painted houses close to the harbour. When I was a child, the houses were unpainted and everything was greyish. The Celtic Tiger at least brought colour to the nation!

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