By Frank Conry
17th October, 2002
Life is a library of memories with an index of faces and places. These memories are recorded on the vellum of time and are illuminated by the passing years.

Following the "great migrations from the blue bed to the brown" are my memories of the the great "adventures from the kitchen to the local graveyard"

Before church or school, the visits to this sacred place formed my rite of passage into the outside world. All the visits melted into one and I was left with the following memories.

Inside the graveyard's pedestrian gate was a man wearing dark clothes with a white shirt. On his shoulder hung a scythe and he was looking for conversation. A pheasant crew in the shadow of a headstone. As the living approached he deserted his vigil and rose like the mythical phoenix, or was he a coloured bird from Paradise? He flew over the graveyard wall and sought sanctuary in another meadow.

At that time the reality of the graveyard was just a shadow on the horizon of life, always threatening, but fantasy had time on its side.

An artificial white dove of peace was perched precariously on a wreath beneath a broken dome of glass. Here and there the occasional grave was like a manicured flower bed. The potholed avenue, which led to the High Cross, was darned with grass and was mocked by the tarred highway which was as smooth as glass and as black as marble. Tall headstones, weather beaten and grey from age, towered over the secret stories of faith, hope and love. Overall, that sacred place was almost a forgotten wilderness and yet, old men knew the grave boundaries as well as they knew the boundaries of their own fields. Rockets and lupins fought a loosing battle with the tall grass and the polyanthus had surrendered the ritualised dignity of leaving this world.

These memories remained with me until FAS arrived. Through hard work these good people reclaimed the graveyard from the grip of nature and transformed it into a garden of remembrance. And then, on a sunny Sunday in August, Mass was said in this sacred place.

Nobody had a monopoly on grief that day. It was a religious ritual through which we remembered our dead but we also shared with each other an unspoken awareness of our own mortality. Once more, we read from the Bible of the Heart as we listened to the music of the kind word in the prayerful celebration of life and death. There was no outward grief for ourselves or for others, just thanks for the memories, our tears had already been shed. It was a new and special memory...