A dip into anyone’s life story is always a shared emotional journey guided through their eyes. However, to be led through Seamus Fogarty’s raw account of his life from infancy to his 80s in his memoir, When Night is Falling, is a rare privilege.
Seamus from Poulmaleen, Faugheen is well known to many in Carrick-on-Suir from the nine years he served as a maverick Independent councillor on the former Carrick-on-Suir Urban District Council from 1985 to 1994.
The 84 year-old is also the former editor and writer of the Poulmaleen Post magazine.
When Night is Falling’ reflects on the wealth and poverty, compassion, tragedy and survival in rural Ireland close Carrick-on-Suir.
It is tinged with bitter regret of a drinking habit that shrouded his senses for half a century in between ‘shots’ of ‘sober time’ during which he worked tirelessly at home and in England.
His beautifully written book is laced with wit and anecdotal tales of his family and the characters he met along his journey and is filled with photographs and sketches that are a portal to his past.
The book highlights Seamus' respect for his hard working father James, who opened a little library in his grocers shop in Carrick-on-Suir in 1935, and never gave up no matter what he endured in his business life.
Seamus' love for his gentle, easy going mother, Josephine, whose strength of character bound the family together over the years, is evident in the wonderful stories he tells of their past. Seamus Fogarty was born in Cregg, Carrick-on-Suir in 1935 and moved to Poulmaleen (Little Hollow) in 1945 where he still lives with his older sister Maureen (88), who was born with special needs.
He is her full time carer and both of them enjoy a healthy organic lifestyle. Maureen adores Daniel O’Donnell and listens to his music every day and her bedroom wall is adorned with posters and photos of him.
Seamus is a passionate organic gardener/horticulturist and a member of the Henry Doubleday Research Association, and Garden Organic in England.
For years he has tried to breed a new rose variety, through hybridizing and cross-pollinating. He says he wants to create a rose "so unique and beautiful it would merit being registered and named ‘Michelle’ after Hollywood actress and ardent vegan, Michelle Pfeiffer, (with her permission of course).”
He mourns the eradication of wildlife, the cuckoos, corncrakes, curlews, water hens and mallards to mention a few.
"The country is overrun with predators” he says. "When I was young there was a bounty on predators, now they are a protected species.”
He writes regularly to the government agencies on the disappearing species, which were once so abundant. He also wrote a wildlife column for a period in The Nationalist. A few years ago he returned to the little cottage in Cregg where he was born, which is now overgrown and empty except for the cattle in the fields around it. The following is an extract from his book.
“But the memories live on, memories of carefree days when the sun was always shining and life was so simple and so uncomplicated. Around that little yard, our personalities were formed, and the orange blossom tree in particular was the focal point of our existence.
"It bore witness to our laughter, our tears and our youthfulness. And later, when we roamed the earth, having our good times and our bad times, making our mistakes and enduring our misfortunes, it bloomed there in our absence every spring without fail. And words cannot describe how very glad I am that it survived all the years and blooms today as good as ever. Before leaving, I leaned in over the little bridge nearby and gazed down into the Linguan River. I closed my eyes and all the memories came flooding back. I heard voices, familiar voices, long since gone from this life, and deep within my heart, as the poet said, ‘lay thoughts too deep for tears’.”
This is a book that will linger with you long after it has been read. It is an endearing insight into a past era, its people, rich and poor, their hard working lives to survive and their connection to family, land, nature, faith and cures.
When Night is Falling, Seamus Fogarty’s self-published book is available in Carrick-on-Suir at The Cabin, Main Street; The Tudor Artisan Hub and in Supervalu.