You Will Bear Witness

Happy little redhead girl

I’m sharing the some of the opening chapter paragraphs of my memoir today. It’s hard to do. Putting it out there to be read and shared. It’s the start of my journey towards telling my story of my abuse by a paedophile ring organised by my parents for fourteen years from the age of four to fourteen years. Eventually, I was thrown out of home onto the streets of Duble where I lived for eight months before The Salvation Army rescued me and organised for my migration to Australia where I now live. I struggle with Complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder as a result but am happily married with four wonderful children and a very supporting husband. I landed on my feet.

So here goes. The first few paragraphs:

“Childhood. Born as a babe innocent of sin. Devoid of evil or a corrupt mind.  Growing up oblivious to the troubles and travails of the world delighting only in the discovery of fairies, tall tales and all the freedoms of a virtuous and guiltless soul.  Growing from infancy into the bosom of a village to be raised and watched over free from distress, grief or pain.  The right of every child surely. Emerging from the safety of the watery asylum of the womb into the arms and assumed safety and desiderated arms of the ambivalent mother, a child is born on, 17 January 1962 in the District Hospital, Gurrah, Mother Ellen Morrissey, Father Unknown. It was Wednesday, under the sign of Capricorn. Into this Cold War world of uncertainty and “Troubles” a child is born, seemingly to its immediate family and outside world wanted, but to its mother hated from its first mewling wail.  However, society protects its new members and offspring. It is the most primaeval emotion to shield, protect, chaperon, protect one’s, own neonates. They are the future. It is the way nature intended it, is it not? The insurance of a bantling’s survival cannot be left to one person, not that pure, unadulterated, precious commodity. It takes a village to raise a child and a village to ignore one. It takes a village to raise a child and a village to abuse one.

In a seaside village, all is seen and heard.  The fishermen are witness to all that happens and all who pass on the harbourfront. What boats sail in and out of their harbour. Make no mistake about it. It is their harbour. It is their forbears in the 1840s that dredged  every drop of water and built the dam to keep the Irish sea back, while each Connemara stone was carefully laid in place, creating a secure and masterful safe, secure and unassailable harbour, protecting both the village of Ballyculchie and providing impregnable homes for their fishing trawlers. They intimately know the routines of their fellow fisherfolk and families. The little details of family life that are shared by those who work hours together during the dark, potentially lonely hours in the middle of the night in the Irish sea, on a freezing winter’s night, with just the sound of caught flapping fish, lapping waves against the boat and the measured, judicious conversation of old friends to be heard. Conversations could range from important exchanges about the weather, a heated debate on politics, to a discussion on the upcoming nuptials of a friend’s wedding, remarks about Father Daly’s Homily last Sunday, repartee about the team chosen to play the next Hurling match on Saturday, a speech given by one who liked the sound of his own voice on the youth of the day; listened to patiently by the other men who knew him of old, genuine consultation about what was to happen with Mrs di Maebdh now that her old Joe had died last week and she could not cope living on her own and then there was just the plain old gossip session imparting knowledge gleaned from their wives at the dinner table that evening. Never to be outdone one man would be sure to have a better tale than the other.  Gossip was genderless in Irish society. It was a true beast of equality far ahead of its time. After a full night’s fishing the men and boats returned to the safety of the Harbour, always grateful to be home safe, prayer shared as they sailed down the ‘basin’ into the main harbour in thanks as Rosary beads ran through their fingers rhythmically in gratitude. A safe night’s fishing was never taken for granted. The Irish Sea was a serious beast who could throw up a storm startlingly quickly and with such ferocity, it knew no mercy. The cross-channel winds whipped a storm in a matter of hours from the Welsh mountains and across the Irish sea. Reaching port safely in Summer, the men were greeted by the local hoteliers eager to have the pick of the catch for their customers. The rest of the catch went go to market in the local town. Children ran excitedly up and down eager to see their fathers before going to school or happy to help clean the boat if it was a weekend.  A few fish were brought home for that night’s dinner. By eleven o’clock the fisherman’s work on the dockside was done and they were away home for some sleep before repeating the same routine the next night.  It was a peaceful existence. A wholesome family life. It belied the underbelly of another trade more lucrative.

The women of a village can attest to all who go to school with their children and those that do not. They know. They see. They hear stories. They tell stories. They see those children who go to Mass with their parents on a Sunday and those who do not.  All spectate upon children who walk the streets. They know which children exist.  Those who drink in the pubs and hotels at night see and hungrily observe the actions of their fellow imbibers and bear countenance to their comings and goings.  Transactions openly public, not covertly hidden, are laid bare for all to view. Passing through doorways with explanations neither sought nor given. Childhoods that disappear or are destroyed under all the watching, unseeing eyes. Children disappearing or giving birth under the watchful eye of a village that sees all, but chooses to ignore”.

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2 comments

  1. That is a very good beginning…to your book, not the beginning of your life! The title of your blog is very fitting as well. It is hard to believe you were able to survive all that. Your strength is beyond amazing.

  2. I too wrote a book, Secrets in the Hollers, about my painful childhood.
    Its not easy ir it wasn’t for me anyway!
    Good for you to put all you experienced in print! Keep writing! Keep telling your truth for that is where healing lives!
    We should never have experienced what we did!!
    You have ovecome so very much!

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