I wrote yesterday:
Joan thanks for this remarkable story, yes I am sure former Palmarians will receive great comfort and succour from reading it. You have not only used your mind but the meaning and emotion comes through. Keep writing more and it might bring out in others what they experienced. I will publish it now.
Many thanks for your comment. Just to make one more last comment that might help someone out there. Sorry it’s a long one again!
I suppose there was a number of reasons why I left. None of them were due to any theological analysis! Purely practical and for family reasons. Firstly, as I said my brother was getting married and for me it was just to much to be told that I could not go.
But also as I got older, nearing 14, I could see there would be mounting pressure, as I got into my late teens to either, become a nun or get married within Palmar.
The situation at home was difficult, as because of my parents relationship there was very little money spent on the children, even just the basics like food and clothes. I can’t say it wasn’t available, the family wasn’t my fathers priority, and my mother was so nervous when she got some money from him, that it might be the last, she hoarded it in the bank.
My plan was to work hard at school get a good education and get out.
So the Palmar plan for me did not quite fit.
The expectation was that I should be praying not studying and I could see it was going to get really difficult – practically – time wise even.
So I started working at 16 in any spare time I had – holidays and weekends later on, and saved up enough to for University.
All of my siblings left home as early as possible and went as far away as possible. I stayed in Ireland but got a good job.
You can imagine that because of Palmar I made very few friends in my school years because to be honest, they couldn’t call to the house, I dressed a bit weird for the time i.e below the knee skirts no trousers till I left at 14. But even after this because of 8 years of sneaking around and not being open about my life, and of course my parents relationship did not help, I became fiercely independent – and a bit of a loner.
This gradually changed when I left Dublin.
So we settled into a life of me coming home at weekends and Ma going to her mass and saying her rosary every night and doing her thing.
The new rules did come in but there was only so much my mother would discuss. She must have struggled with family versus her religion.
All my siblings kept connected with my mother constantly. As she got older we drove her to mass every Sunday – her mass. Because in our growing up and helping her, we were her allies when times were tough in her relationship with my Dad, that bond was too hard to forsake for her or us.
She started to talk about leaving once the rule came in about burning your books – well, my Ma was a great reader, and reading was her escapism all the years, so this for her, would have been awful.
As soon as she mentioned leaving. My brother and I discussed the best option. He was now home from abroad. What my mother really liked was the Latin mass, so we found an option in a Dublin church – Latin mass with no strings attached. It was perfect for her.
That very first Sunday my brother brought her there instead of Haddon Road – he became ‘ an every Sunday’ mass goer with her ( it wouldn’t come naturally to him ! ) . I was out of Dublin a long time at this stage
She died three years later but it was fantastic she had left beforehand as we could control the funeral. We asked the local priest could we use the local church for a Latin rite mass and he was very accommodating – he couldn’t have been more understanding. So the priest from the mass she attended in town came out and the whole thing including burial was in Latin. We had a quartet play fabulous music she would have approved of.
One of my brothers long term friends who, by the way was Church of Ireland, actually printed off the Latin mass so people could follow it. Just incredible. There were lots of people just came for a look – loads of old nuns that hadn’t seen a Latin burial in years.
And there was one ex Palmar priest my mother knew very well, I recognised him immediately, who clearly had some psychological problems going on and kept shouting out responses during the ceremony. I was actually really pleased he had come and I didn’t care that he had to do that , he showed his respects in his own way.
And anyway, it was quite a spectacle for anyone not used to it, so another bit of unusualness didn’t bother me.
And that was it, the end of an era.
By the way, a Palmar priest came to see her in hospital before she died – I don’t know what he said but she was quite shaken by it She said he was like the devil in black.
I met a woman who was a good friend of my mother’s when in Palmar about 6 months after her death. She had gone for lunch in the Yacht pub in Clontarf after mass in Haddon road. I went up to her and said.
‘ Hi xxx , just to let you know my mother died 6 months ago’
Her reply was, ‘ I can’t talk to you, your wearing slacks! ‘ that has always stuck with me. Thats no religion at all -zero empathy.
I am in my late 40’s now and I have come to the realisation that up till 20 or so, your parents are responsible for you but after that you are responsible for yourself. If they have made a complete hames of parenting you, make your own life better – and if you have the honour of having children of your own, never let them be anything less than your priority.
So my own relationship with God? We have had our ups and downs like any friendship. I go to mass every Sunday – with my husband and kids. We see it as being an active part of a rural community rather than too religious. I pray every night for my siblings, in laws and my own family. I fell out with God big time when my first child was born as he was profoundly disabled but then he sent two ‘ of the standard type of child ‘ after. All 3 bring their own personality and joy to the house.
Anyone reading this, I hope it helps. If you are the only one that has left Palmar and the others aren’t talking to you, try to make a life for yourself. We only get one life so make it the best you can and, try to keep contact with family members, even if it is one sided letter writing, so that they know you are there should they ever decide to leave. Support them if they do make that decision – make it as easy as possible to stay out.
My belief , religion should be a moral compass to live your life by, whatever religion it is – but Palmar with all its restrictions and family separations is no moral compass.
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