TWO POEMS IN MEMORY OF TUAM MOTHER’S, BABIES AND CHILDREN. Making history from a disturbed past.

Making history from a disturbed past!

I recently read the book ‘My Name is Bridget’ by Anna Corrigan and Alison O’Reilly. It ripped my heart out and threw it back. All my schooling and part of my upbringing was Catholic. The catholic faith came from the Irish side of my family. From the Irish blood that flows in my veins, I have a love for Ireland. Culture, history, literature. I have read many books on Irish history. The memoir I have written titled ‘Forbidden Love’ about my Irish grandmother falling in love with my grandfather against the back drop of Ireland’s war for independence. Is no longer a memoir but a novel and will be published this year 2021. While writing this novel I had to do research into Irish history and my own Irish family and from this I learnt many things. Ireland was traumatised from the famine, later failed uprisings, then 1916 and ‘Ireland War for independence’ The Catholic church dominated Irish life. Manipulated an already traumatised nation with shame and guilt. Some of these women were raped. No man was questioned or arrested. Only women and children were badly abused and imprisoned and some were damaged for the rest of their lives. They were the vulnerable in Irish society back then! After thought, Eamon de Valera was born what was deemed back then when no father was around, a bastard. Why did he not step in when he was in power. I think this horrid very disturbed man, should be held responsible as much as the Catholic church. The poem I wrote titled ‘Golden Ring’ came from anger, ‘Feathered Wings’ came from softness of my heart, I wrote the 2 poems in one hour.

Golden Ring

(In memory of Tuam mother’s like Bridget)

Outside the home of judgment

belly swollen, legs heavy

abandoned by all.

The loss pain and shame,

fornicated outside the golden ring.

A rape, a married man, or an hour of passion.

You, who wear the ring of gold married to Christ

so that gives you the right.

To call me a whore and my child a sin

because of no golden ring.

Shamed to silence I can never tell,

guilt is stuck in my throat,

memories rise and I swallow the hard truth,

that remains stuck beneath my broken heart.

Brainwashed by the cloth and the habit

to leave what was mine behind,

Yet, they will always be with me

underneath a blanket of guilt and shame.

A warning to you, who wore the golden ring married to Christ.

The future WILL find the cess pits and other humanitarian crimes.

Feathered Wings

(In memory of the children and babies)

Lay broken in a home with no care

the only warmth you feel are the sunrays on your skin,

the silence and no children’s laughter is deafening.

Lack of empathy no compassion is shown

cold comfort is dished out by the bucket load.

Lullaby to lay you down on feathered wings,

softly, gently send you to sleep.

To another time and place

a future where your pain will be released,

into the arms of the truth sayers in words and songs.

Never to be forgotten and your 796 names

will live on.

By Julie Pritchard, 4th June 2020

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A COLLECTION OF MY POEMS ON ELY MEMORIES.

All poems on Ely memories are written by me.

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When I grew up in Ely I often went carolling. To the posh houses on Cowbridge road and sometimes I ventured down Birdies Lane to Fairwater and onto Bwlch Road to even more posh houses. From the money I earned I would buy presents for my parents. Mama a brass ornament from The Bon March. Then next door to Crocker’s newsagent and a tin of Tom Thumb cigars for Dada. One memory that always stayed with me was Christmas Eve 1969 and the memory is in the poem below

What a Disguise.

The smell of turkey lingers in the air as we took our time walking up the stairs

Eldest brother a box bedroom of his own I snuggled up to little brother

two little sister’s top and tail.

Minds empty of sleep our bellies full with excitement of what he will bring.

Breathing softly and deep we fell asleep.

Suddenly I am woken by the slither of light from the landing

door creaked and the bare floorboards groaned liken to an old ship.

Black leaded fire place gaping only a whistling wind for company.

My eyes adjusted to the shape that hooked my Grampy’s old army socks

on the bed post full of nuts and four tangerines.

Then placed presents at the foot of our bed but I am puzzled and

surprised and cannot belief my eyes as to the disguise.

In wonderment I think why, why is Santa wearing my mothers pink

flannelette dressing gown and red curlers?

Julie Pritchard nee Griffin

I was always scabby kneed and tied mark necked and loved playing out doors. Birdies Lane, Plymouth woods, the Drope, sometime we ventured far a field to Victoria Park and Llandaff Field with its outdoor Lido. My favourite place was the green in front of our house. This green became our football pitch, cricket ground and I loved it! The poem “Sunday evening Ritual” says it all.

Sunday Evening Ritual.

‘In’! We hear her voice from up the street.

‘In now!’

As the Sunday evening sun is slowly going down

I drag my feet along the ground.

The geezer as been glowing

while we were out playing.

The bosh waits while we undress.

Ow! I cry has my back hits the hot tap.

The clean smelling carbolic oblong soap is in my hair,

up my nose and everywhere.

All clean and lobster pink now we don’t stink.

I see the metal object glinting through the downing sunrays.

Sat on the floor while Mam checks for chickens she says.

The weapon is in her hand,

the sharp prongs grate through my hair.

The ‘derbac’ comb hacks my scalp.

All clear, Mam shakes the talc.

The Sunday evening ritual is forgotten

as I lay sleepy and dreaming.

Sometimes I have nightmare of the St Francis school

nit nurse with the dyed black hair.

Poem by Julie Pritchard.

I wrote the poem ‘Pinny’ 2013 and is in my 2nd collection titled “Healing Garden” I normally perform this poem from memory. Playwright and poet Patrick Jones used the poem for an Alzheimer work shop and this was very touching. The character is my Irish grandmother, when at home Nanna Griffin always wore a wrap around tie up the back pinny. I thought in these uncertain times I would put this out to make people smile and reflect on their grandparents.

Pinny

I see the pinny on the hook on the back kitchen door

paisley patterned blues and greens.

I breathe in the pinny it smells of carbolic soap and lavender

this reminds me of my grandmother.

I remember the pinny tied round the short, stout, sturdy body

that swayed from side to side like the maid

in ‘Tom and Jerry’

The pinny that gathered coal, became a peg bag

and a veg bowl.

The pinny that wiped many teary eyes, dirty ears and snotty noses.

You never caught anything from this pinny only LOVE.

Poem written by Julie Pritchard 2013

Mrs Sayer and the Blue Birds!

Cardiff City midfielder Peter Sayer’s Mam Mrs Sayer was our pools lady when I lived in Charteris Road, Ely. I would wait for her and ask after Peter I was only 14 at the time. I was a tom boy all my childhood I was always scabby kneed and tied mark necked and could climb any tree. We often played football and cricket on the green that was in front of our house. My brother Malcolm known as Macca had trials for Cardiff alas it did not materialise, my father Francis Griffin had trials for Preston North End but sadly he broke is leg. Macca’s youngest daughter Nadine, played for Man City Girls but did not want a footballing career she chose University instead.

Aged 15 we left Charteris road moved to new Ely that we called Caerau, to Bromley Drive. I became friends with Michelle Fish, Lynda Lewis and Louise Fleming and others. We were all big City fans sometimes we nicked, only sometimes.😉 I recall the time after we watched City play. We waited outside Ninian Park, where the staff saw us and asked us what were we doing. We replied waiting for Peter Sayer and David Giles. We were invited in. We were not giggling girls, we were serious football fans. The smell of Brute and Old Spice greeted us then the team came and we talked football. A great memory. I still support City go to a game now and again. My grandfather Jim Scantlebury would go to every home game until he died in 1963. He always dressed in a suite, cufflinks, tie and tie pin and his trilby hat.

I always perform the poem “Wanting to be one of the Boys” from memory. I once performed this poem in Neath (Poet and writer Mike Jenkins can you tell you the story) of how Swansea fans were in audience and started heckling me. I replied “Come over here if you think you hard enough!” They did and bought my 2nd collection titled “Healing garden” instead. The Swansea fans were pussy cats really.

Wanting to be one of the Boys

At cricket they always picked me for wicket keeper

even when I got my first black eye I never realised why?

Goalie too wearing my brothers Cardiff city socks and stay-press

trouser. Peter Sayer was on my bedroom wall no popstars for me.

My football album was as good as theirs.

I was always popular on a Wednesday

my five friends all boys which I inspired to be like, fit in and belong.

Would come round my house and wait for Mrs Sayer our pools lady.

She was ONLY Peter Sayers Mam. I always asked after him

my friends will really impressed.

I only saw him play the week before down the Grange-end

“Come over here if you think you are hard enough”

Was our battle cry.

No one picked on me I was one of the boys.

I knew it was coming to an end when we just got back from nobbing apples,

we scaled the pre war concrete bus shelter, the roof was flat and we were on

top of the world. Laying on our backs, scabby knees and tied mark necked,

well I was.

Crunching my knocked off apple,

when he started looking at me in a strange way

like the soppy films my Mam watched and cried over.

I stared blankly and wiped my nose in my sleeve,

then he says to me “Give me a kiss and you can be my girlfriend

I jumped up in horror shimmied down the drain pipe and blind side of the ref,

walked away, away from my childhood and me wanting to be one of the boys

because they WANTED ME TO BE A GIRL!

Poem written by Julie Pritchard

Autumn has arrived and out of all the seasons autumn is my favourite. I like the way autumn shuts the door on summer and turned slightly to the north wind, the fresh cool mornings clouds that add colour to sunrises and sunsets and foraging for fruit. I wrote the poem “Blackberries” for my mother in 2006 and I read the poem out at Mama’s funeral Thursday 13th August 2020.

Blackberries

I see the empty jar where the blackberries were

Idle, on its own, redundant till next time.

Mam is in the kitchen singing while she bakes.

I know this is Mam’s favourite room

for she is aways happy here.

Her floury hands make clouds of dust.

her nails are encrusted with dough.

Five hungry faces moan

“How much longer must we wait?”

as we sit at the table in Mam’s favourite room.

The oven is opened, the heat flushes

our faces to bright red as we wait to be fed.

The plumb purple blackberries smell so sweat

encased in their coat of pastry, good enough to eat.

The juices leak out from the tart

as she cuts six slices and pours ‘Ideal milk’

from a tin onto our plates which are now licked clean

We giggle and make fun of each others purple tongues.

Sat in Mam’s favourite room surrounded in warmth but most of all love.

Poem written by Julie Pritchard 2006

Kindness is the golden chain that society is bound.

I took this photo of Llangorse Lake in flood two years ago.

Friday 9th October I read and performed my poetry at TARAGGAN at an event organised by Platfform and Pathways titled Kindness in aid of #worldmentalhealthday. Where I met wonderful inspiring people. After I finished reading and performing, I gave coloured cards out to individuals and asked then to write on the card what Kindness meant to them. I took certain words like smile, cwtch and my own words and from this I composed the poem “Golden Chain of Kindness” I used a neckless as a metaphor.

Golden Chain of Kindness

Links a a smile from a stranger

cwtch from a friend,

a gentle hand on the shoulder

in times of sorrow and grief.

It is the silence you give to let other

in pain speak.

To know yourself and be true to you too.

To give and not count the cost.

Kindness is the golden chain

by which society is bound together

and clasped with LOVE.

Julie Pritchard

Throughout my life I have come across many acts of kindness some from strangers. While walking through Spain I was in Barcelona staying at a hostel in Las Rambles. I walked to a park with a beautiful fountain in the middle. I saw a man sat cross legged head like a walnut, large smile that showed discoloured broken teeth. He had many colourful bauble and beads. I thought he looked a character. and I was right he was a delightful man. He told me he was from Syria and we talked of the gas that was in Syria and how the West wanted the monopoly on this essential commodity. As I made my leave he held out his knarled hand, I raised my hand to shake his. When he placed turquoise bracelet and earrings in my palm. “This for you and your conversation” I replied “Shukraan” he said “Ah you know Arabic” I smiled only a small amount.

While out walking I often greet others, you never know how lonely people are, or if you are the only person they have spoken to that day or days.

I believe if we all wear the golden change of kindness compassion and empathy, there would be less greed, more peace and no wars.

Mental illness

My mother was fearful. I her eldest daughter observed her make the world with her own thoughts and her world was full of anxiety and terror. However when she was happy she sang like a bird loved herself more and inspired others. Sadly for her and us this was short lived.

My sister Suzie was 18 months younger than me and I knew from a young age she was different. Suzie attended a special needs school. She showed me the beauty there is in autism. I became her chief protector and bashed many ears at those who did not understand Suzie’s eccentric ways and in their ignorance called her awful names.

I believe that walking has many healthy benefits. Let your arms swing, your feet mirroring your positive thoughts. Let the wind play with your hair and allow birds to serenade you.

I am not naïve. I have a vast amount of experience of life. I lost have half of my family by the time I was 25. Through poverty I knew shame. Was homeless and made redundant four times.

To sit quietly, to read a book, watch clouds, hear your own breath. Is wonderful and a good feel factor.

To be kind gives you a beautiful glow in your heart and belly.

Never judge anyone you never know what paths they have walked.

“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it”

Quote by Maya Angelou

BLUEBIRD memories. MY POEM “WANTING TO BE ONE OF THE BOYS” and Mrs Sayer.

BLUEBIRD PIN BADGE

Cardiff City midfielder Peter Sayer’s Mam Mrs Sayer was our pools lady when I lived in Charteris Road, Ely. I would wait for her and ask after Peter I was only 14 at the time. I was a tom boy all my childhood I was always scabby kneed and tied mark necked and could climb any tree. We often played football and cricket on the green that was in front of our house. My brother Malcolm known as Macca had trials for Cardiff alas it did not materialise, my father Francis Griffin had trials for Preston North End but sadly he broke is leg. Macca’s youngest daughter Nadine, played for Man City Girls but did not want a footballing career she chose University instead.

Aged 15 we left Charteris road moved to new Ely that we called Caerau, to Bromley Drive. (Today my niece Rachel Owen lives in Charteris road) I became friends with Michelle Fish, Lynda Lewis and others. We were all big City fans. I recall the time after we watched City. We waited outside Ninian Park, where the staff saw us and asked us what were we doing. We replied waiting for Peter Sayer and David Giles. We were invited in. We were not giggling girls, we were serious football fans. The smell of Brute and Old Spice greeted us then the team came and we talked football. A great memory. I still support City go to a game now and again. My grandfather Jim Scantlebury would go to every home game until he died in 1963. He always dressed in a suite, cufflinks, tie and tie pin and his trilby hat.

I always perform the poem “Wanting to be one of the Boys” from memory. I once performed this poem in Neath (Poet and writer Mike Jenkins can you tell you the story) of how Swansea fans were in audience and started heckling me. I replied “Come over here if you think you hard enough!” They did and bought my 2nd collection titled “Healing garden” instead. The Swansea fans were pussy cats really.

Wanting to be one of the Boys

At cricket they always picked me for wicket keeper

even when I got my first black eye I never realised why?

Goalie too wearing my brothers Cardiff city socks and stay-press

trouser. Peter Sayer was on my bedroom wall no popstars for me.

My football album was as good as theirs.

I was always popular on a Wednesday

my five friends all boys which I inspired to be like, fit in and belong.

Would come round my house and wait for Mrs Sayer our pools lady.

She was ONLY Peter Sayers Mam. I always asked after him

my friends will really impressed.

I only saw him play the week before down the Grange-end

“Come over here if you think you are hard enough”

Was our battle cry.

No one picked on me I was one of the boys.

I knew it was coming to an end when we just got back from nobbing apples,

we scaled the pre war concrete bus shelter, the roof was flat and we were on

top of the world. Laying on our backs, scabby knees and tied mark necked,

well I was.

Crunching my knocked off apple,

when he started looking at me in a strange way

like the soppy films my Mam watched and cried over.

I stared blankly and wiped my nose in my sleeve,

then he says to me “Give me a kiss and you can be my girlfriend

I jumped up in horror shimmied down the drain pipe and blind side of the ref,

walked away, away from my childhood and me wanting to be one of the boys

because they WANTED ME TO BE A GIRL!

Poem written by Julie Pritchard from her collection titled “Ely Memories