A happy new year to the world, a year in which I hope everybody will respect their fellow man and woman, forget their anger, appreciate what is good and what is bad, lose man’s natural characteristics of greed and lust and try to be honest with themselves and realize that there are only so many slices in a pie. If you take two slices somebody does without.
I have just returned after two weeks in Manchester over the Christmas and have returned relaxed and glad to be back in Ireland, my spiritual and ancestral home. First opinions this time on England were:-
1. Massive crowds of people and traffic wherever you went, putting me off going too far and wishing I was back in Boyle
2. A tangible optimism amongst the business folk and the common man that signified the bad days were over. Everybody has tightened up their belts by a couple of notches and accepted that a backward step was necessary before marching forward. There seems to be no talk of striking, but having swallowed the bitter pill, just getting on with the recovery process.
3. Because everything is 30% to 50% cheaper there, people seem to be able to buy more, even with the average worker earning about £22,000 as opposed to the Irish figure of €35,000 (provided by Google Pay Scale). Your money seems to go further.
4. There seems to be a lot more council activity in keeping the roads clear and ice-free. Whilst I was there the snow was on the ground, the temperatures rarely rose above freezing, but the roads were always good, with gritting going on, on a daily basis, yet according to the Irish papers kindly provided by RealBoyle. com every day, the roads were like skating rinks and sadly ignored by the council.
5. Sadly you can drink twice as much for your money over there. Therefore your hangovers are twice as severe. Guiness is £2.90 per pint, decent wine £5.00 and sparkling wine £7.00. Twice we dined out, with the bill coming to £ioo.00 for seven adults and three children, in decent restaurants on both occasions.
6. England seems to be miles behind Ireland when it comes to recycling household waste. Whilst it seems the facilities are all there, the mind-set is not and too much ends up in landfill. We should be proud of our recycling facility here in Boyle.
While I was there I took another step along the way of researching my forebears and in particular the demise of my grand uncle Michael, who was found drowned in the Bridgewater Canal in Eccles, near Manchester at Christmas 1921. Michael Crehan, my grandfather’s younger brother left Ballinamore Bridge in County Galway at the latter end of 1921, just at the time the truce was signed by Michael Collins and Arthur Griffiths with the British Government giving autonomy to 26 counties of Ireland. From family letters I have, he left Ireland with £120 which is the equivalent in modern terms to £40,000 (I have been given this conversion on good authority, please disprove)
On Christmas Eve 1921 at 9.45pm his body was found and given over to my Grandfather, who buried him in Moston Cemetery on St. Stephen’s Day. On the 27 December the day after his burial, the coroner’s court pronounced an open verdict after hearing the evidence that a woman alerted neighbours that a man had fallen into the canal, one of whom jumped in and pulled Michael to the bank, where, after an attempt at artificial respiration had failed, he was pronounced dead. The woman who alerted the neighbours was never found and neither was his money, but it was said in evidence that he had drink taken according to The Manchester Evening News of 27th December 1921. He was only 50 yards away from his lodging house. Another case it probably seemed to the coroner of whiskey and wild, wild women.
As I have explained in previous blogs this period in Manchester’s history was a time of great civil unrest amongst it’s Irish population, which was huge. So the speed with which his body was handed over and his burial by shocked relatives, linked to the circumstances of his death, seems to be a case of brushing muck under the carpet. To me there was enough suspicion around for the police to initiate an investigation but obviously the authorities could not be bothered for one less Irishman and it was all any relative could do but to keep his head below the parapet and hope for more peaceful times.
Having got this far and in the time available at the County Records Office, I had a quick trawl through the adjacent news articles and I quickly realized that Christmas has not changed. In the few articles I read a man gassed himself after falling out with his wife, a man murdered his wife on Christmas Eve, two policemen were run over by cars and one was shot and they were having to build an extension on to murder row at the Crumlin Gaol in Belfast where 39 men were imprisoned awaiting the death penalty.
So there you are, release the tension, pat the next person you meet on the back and have a very good year.