Kahlil Gibran famously describes parents as archers and children as the arrows in his book “The Prophet”. Parents provide the stablility, the bow, the platform from which children can launch into the future to pursue their dreams.
Aja Monet describes it in a different way here. I live in the bloodline. We are all a product of our heritage. We are all a product of the blood, the genes that we receive from our ancestors. But more than that we are a product of the achievements and choices of our forebears. I was the road you took here. I am la Camina. I was the way.
I too am the Grandchild of a revolutionary. In Ireland we can now search the Census online for 1901 and 1911. My Grandfather, Jeremiah Clancy, was living in Nicholas Street in St Mary’s Parish in Limerick City, aged 6 in the first census. His mother Ellen, was head of the household because my Great Grandfather Paddy passed away in 1896. Grandad was living with his sisters Delia and Annie and his brother Paddy. I remember them all very well. We used to visit my Clancy relatives in Limerick and Kilbane each year on the way to holidays in Kilkee. The aunts never married. They were spinster aunts to my father. Paddy married our Great Aunt Hannah and they had a house in Grace Park Road, Drumcondra. Paddy and Hannah separated in an Ireland where such things seldom happened and he returned to Limerick to end his days in Kilbane as the postmaster. I grew up thinking of him as a bachelor.
By 1911 Ellen had passed away, not reaching her 58th year. Paddy, Annie and Delia moved down the street to live with their older sister Lissie and her husband Francis McNamara. They had four boys of their own, two boarders and a servant. Busy house. My Granddad was elsewhere. In 1911 he is to be found in Smyth’s, Ballygar where he was a 16 year old apprentice in the Hotel business.
Sometime during World War 1 he was photographed in his Volunteer uniform firing a graveside volley (front row right hand side).
He also pops up in this photo, the dashing chap in the back row sporting the dicky bow, probably his hotel uniform shirt and tie.:
They are all wearing lilies, suggesting a commemoration of the Easter 1916 rising so it may be 1917 or 1918 putting him at around 22 years of age, which looks about right. So these photos are the earliest evidence we have of his road to revolution. He was later arrested for leading a military parade in 1918. His defense in court was that it was a religious procession. My brother Jerry thinks the second photo was the first taken, on the basis that he is wearing only a partial uniform in the second photo, but is fully kitted out in the kneeling shot.
He never left the military life and following the overthrow of British rule in Ireland 1922 he became a professional soldier. He joined the Free State Army in Tipperary, served a time in Limerick before being posted first to Kilbride, Wicklow and later to GHQ in Dublin, housed in McKee Barracks in Dublin, where my Father grew up. My parents were raised in a new Ireland. It was the world described by William Butler Yeats as “No Country for Old Men” (Sailing to Byzantium). A land where those who fought for our freedom rose to become the new political class. It was a social democracy, a meritocracy where class and past heritage were more of a hindrance than a help. It was an evolving society of potential and possibility where a hungry person could define their destiny.
This is the path that was mapped for me and my siblings. You make your future, you define your success, everything is possible through hard work, dedication and desire. I wonder if we have lost something of this attitude in Ireland today? Where are next years revolutionaries?
What my Grandmother meant to say was; by Aja Monet Bacquie
I taste of salt. My fingers cannot sit still. I smuggled
tears from smile to smile. When I became too tired
to run, I swam. What love does not reach beyond
borders? I swam. I rose. I flew. I dreamed. I fell in
love with litte to no food. I belonged to no where,
no one, no thing. I fell in love with everywhere, every
one, everything. I was hungry and cold. I hated hunger
and cold. I hated everywhere with no food. I hated
everyone with everything. It was different. I was
a woman. I was stupid. I was waiting to become
more than what happened, more than a bird fleeing
it’s country, to bathe in being afar, more than a land
scape or an image to cast a shadow on, the flip
of a tricky coin, seductress of men, visions aching
for a new story to tell you. My children, riding on
the dragonflies of sacrifice, I left them. I turned back
many times, I almost became the devil they wanted
but I left. A devil, nonetheless. I was a woman ahead
of her time. I shimmered in the scars. I live in
the bloodline. I imagine more than broken families.
I come from the laughter of aspiring lovers, the lure
of trembling in anothere’s arms. What about what
I wanted? What of the loss – of culture, of dreams,
of home? There were many secrets. We fled from
the revolution. I could not protect my children from
everywhere. I made offerings. I cleansed. I repented.
I am their mother. I am not God. I was a Candela.
I glowed. I was luminous. I lit up the room. I was
the light gleaming in the Sierra Maestra at night. I was
the mountains. I swayed the sunrise, yearning. I danced.
I was a witch they could not burn. I was la Fuega. I am
their mother. I am not God. I made choices. I made peace
with them. I was a woman ahead of her time. I was
the road you took here. I am la Camina. I was the way.