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"Sunday Mass with my father."
Colette Murphy

Proclamation-1916.jpg

1916 Proclamation of Irish Independence, originally owned by Kathleen Lynn

1Sunday Mass with my father.

My father used to talk to me of history, football and politics.

The Irish independent every Sunday.

We would question everything. 

Talk mostly of football, and how the TDs were driving him up the wall.

“No common sense” he would say, while rolling the paper up in his hands.

His favourite stories were of Irish history greats, Collins, Connolly, Casement.

I yearned to know it all.

So, I could be like him, my dad.  

 

He loved to joke at others expense.

Make fun of life’s obstacles.

To be honest, he rarely took even himself too seriously,

And especially loved to take the piss out of me.

 

Remember how I used to think Ireland was the whole world?  

I was embarrassingly old when I realised, we are actually very small.

Our history was so great though, I’d think, how could I ever learn it all?

When would I get a chance to understand the rest of the world?

“Never,” my dad would say, “it’s too much. You just got to laugh at it.”

 

He meant the world was too much. 

He took his Irishness very seriously.

 

But I don’t know what it is to be Irish anymore…

And I grew up here, in Ireland.

And you know, I want to be an artist and create.

And sometimes I feel like the art industry doesn’t want me,

And social media, the world, makes me irate,

And we always have to be nice.

And it seems my work should have some deep meaning or cause.

And then I wonder…

 

What would my dad think of this place, we are in.

Ireland’s newfound place in western society.

Where I am questioning,

 what is it to be Irish?

If I even want to be in the artistic industry?

Should I Concentrate on self-interests?

Be proud only, of my individuality?

Forget all I learnt from him.

Of proud Irish people,

Who grew from adversity and epitomised western values of freedom, truth and integrity.

I hear it’s not cool, to be proud of democracy! 

 

Ok. Ok. I’ll be vogue.

Socialism seems to be in.

However, I’m an artist.

So surely, I want the ability to express myself free from the fear of persecution.

And my father told me to look after my neighbours,

And the commies are big on snitching on them,

It would be like covid again.

Where we would be stuck in our houses, getting paranoid. 

I would say,

“Johnny Mac up the road has about five social bubbles.

I don’t think those are the government regulations.”

But you know what my father would say,

“Well good for him,

Because it’s been nearly two years of lock downs and the government need some questioning.”

 

So, I guess, I ain’t going to be too much of a leftie.

And my father told me, “Once you go too far left, you’re right.”

But dad, I’ve lost sense of what it is to be Irish.

And I desperately want to belong.

If I’m an artist and I want to get by, it seems I need to have a tribe.

Should I find a new one? the tribe of woman, woke, incel, BLM, 2SLGBTQIA+

But I don’t think any of them would have me.

Because I’m dreadfully heterosexual and white.

I love men, so feminism isn’t for me.

I try to avoid misandry. It’s not a good look, is it?

To blame all men now, for wounds from history.

But I also love women. 

So, I will just be for humanity? 

But wait, that’s not enough in today’s world, is it? 

 

Ok. Ok. I’m an artist, I must have a cause it would seem.

As all the social media artists have a great political, humanitarian agenda nowadays.

 

I must keep up!

My father always believed in something. He was proud to be Irish and part of his community.

But what does that mean to me?

Ugh…My brain hurts!

Maybe, I won’t believe in anything in particular…

I will just follow the influencers and the celebrities. 

Selective outrage is in!

There are more than a hundred-armed conflicts in the world,

I’m sure they will pick one of them.

Create a hierarchy of destruction,

Choose from the rubble, 

these people are worth more than those.

Thank God! I’m safe over here in my western bubble.

And hey, I’m twenty-five, it’s my right to take to the streets and scream like a child, 

Call it a protest,

I identify as a parrot.

Who cares if humanity has evolved to the point of civilized discussion.

I would wave my sign around that says, “SAY NO TO WAR!”

But wait…

 I could just imagine my dad laughing at me, 

“Well, no fucking way! You’re a smart one, aren’t yeah?” 

And I would tell him.

“It’s capitalism baby! it’s all about the money and free advertisement.

Gotta support my celebrities.”

Hahaha Funny…How we used to laugh…

 

But wait! Stop!

 

I am an artist!

I don’t think I can be a capitalist pig either.

But…

My dad built our house with his own hands, with his own money.

Years of block laying, his hands were always rough. 

Large enough to envelop my hands, warm and strong.

When I was small, I would imagine him grabbing the big grey blocks with one hand, trowel in the other to lay the cement.

Building walls quicker than anybody,

A super-hero builder in my eyes.

He was different from me. 

He loved hard work and was proud of what he achieved.

On the other hand, 

I’m a bit lazy, but I remember the values he instilled in me. 

If I put the effort in, there is nothing that I can’t do. 

Sure I might fail, but failure is achieving too.

 

Isn’t my freedom, my father’s freedom, because of capitalism and democracy?

He had the freedom to own his land and build something for his family.

That we could have for generations.

Somewhere I could go to remember him.

Why am I not meant to like the western society I’m living in again?

Yeah! things aren’t easy or perfect, but my dad was proud of the country he was living in.

 

Oh God! Ok, ok…if I keep going this way, no gallery will have me.

I am not towing the agenda.

And I still don’t know what it is to be Irish.

GET WOKE!

That’s it!

OK, maybe not… that just wouldn’t be me.

And we are all about our authentic selves, aren’t we?

 

Maybe, I will be for family?

That will be my cause!

But wait, 

that’s seen as conservative.

And according to the woke doctrine that came from the U.S of A.

Which for some reason unknown to me,

is relevant to us Irish people…

If you are conservative and religious,

you are the literal devil! 

Unless you are the right kind of religious. 

I’m pretty sure you cannot be proud to be Jewish or Christian…

If I want to fit in with this left-wing art industry slash social media realm that is.

Huh…

Oh God!

The keyboard mob will slate me! 

Ahhhh…

but I grew up Irish Catholic. 

Like all my family.

So, what am I meant to do? 

 

If I wish to partake in the creative world this stuff is kind of forced upon me.

All these outside forces telling me how unhappy I should be… 

how disgusting and wrong my society is.

But!

I can eat strawberries every day.

I have more clothes and books than I have space,

And they are some of my favourite things!

I have a warm bed in a place I call home, where I can dream of being an artist from.

I see futures where I share my stories with everyone. 

Yeah, sometimes rent can be tight,

But I live in a beautiful little town by the sea,

Where most people are kind and nice,

And as a woman, I am completely free.

No matter what some may try and tell me.

“You know you can do anything you set your mind too. 

Here there is nothing stopping you.”

That is what my father would say.

So, I guess thank you democracy?

 

what should I do now!

should I sacrifice myself on the alter for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity?

All the EEEEEESSS!!

I will start to hear the dogma on repeat in my brain,

Drowning out the thoughts of the sane.

Pretend to feel, THE GUILT! THE SHAME!

 

When in reality,

 I just feel very lucky to have been born in Ireland, and 

To have had a father like mine.

 

Sigh…maybe I shouldn’t have thought that…thank God, I didn’t say it out loud!

But yeah know, 

Sometimes this world, 

Makes me begin to feel shame and guilt for things that are out of my control. 

And I must stop myself and realise,

This doesn’t feel very, “INCLUSIVE”, to me.

Presumptions are made, that my life has been blessed, 

When all that is judged is the superficial. 

Privilege, is it?

Things have not been easy.

They have been tough,

That is why I appreciate what I have.

But my words never seem to be enough. 

Because you look at me, and see, what you’ve been taught too.

Who can blame you… I guess…

 

You know what.

Now!

I’m beginning to get mad!

And I have my father’s temper you know!

What exactly do you want from me!

How should I exorcize myself of this original sin!

Should I jump in the shower with a Brillo pad every day and scrub myself until I’m red!

Because I feel you trying to guilt me,

manipulate me,

But unfortunately for you, I’m maxed out on guilt!

Because my father could be selfish too!

And he chose to end things..

Leave this world…

 

No.

My father taught me to be stronger than this…

 

You can continue down your path of liberal moral superiority.

I won’t fall into your trap of dividing people along racial lines.

I won’t fall into your trap of dividing the sexes.

I won’t fall into your trap of hate.

 

And if my father was still here, he would talk to me of history, football and politics.

The Irish independent every Sunday

We would question everything.

Talk mostly of the football, and how the TDs were driving us up the wall.

We would argue about every little thing.

He would laugh at me and say

“What do you want, Colette! A perfect world. We are all only human after all.”

 

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