It might not be a picture she’ll thank me for making public, but this is a photo of my wonderful maternal grandmother, Granny Walsh. It was taken a few years ago when my sister and two cousins and I went over to visit her in her home town of Naas in Ireland and we spent the day around her kitchen table drinking cups of tea, eating toast, and messing around with this magnifying glass that she uses to read the paper. It was brilliant and I will always smile when I think back on that day as I always smile when I look at this hilarious photograph.
Granny Walsh is truly an amazing woman. She’s 95 years old (but who’s counting?!), still lives independently and on her own in her own house in her native Ireland and has a penchant for Pringles and Buckfast tonic wine (which, I am reliably informed by Wikipedia, is “associated with drinkers who are prone to committing anti-social behaviour when drunk” and whose “relatively low price and sweetness are characteristics that are thought to appeal to underage drinkers”): I think she justifies the Buckfast as it was originally made by Benedictine monks and she is very religious. Hmmm….
In fact, some of my earliest memories of Granny Walsh are of her dousing us in holy water before bedtime when she’d babysit my sister and I. She’s a god-fearing woman Granny Walsh and from a young age she taught us all about her favourite Saints like St. Martin and St. Anthony (who helps you find stuff, particularly when she prays to him – I think she has a hotline) and of course St. Jude, who helps the hopeless. I’ve prayed to him a few times…
Granny left Ireland when she was pretty young, she moved over to the UK and subsequently married my Grandfather, who was also Irish (we don’t talk about him though…), had three children – the youngest of which was my mum – and stayed in England for most of her life before retiring back to her native Emerald Isle.
We loved her weekly Monday visits when we were kids, she’d come and spoil us rotten, teach us how to play card games, encourage us to pick a horse to bet on (just for fun, no money exchanged hands), and made us laugh with the funny things she’d say in her charming Irish accent.
In fact she’s famous amongst our family for the classic things she’s come out with over the years like (*said in soft lilting Irish tones*): “it’s amazing isn’t it, no matter how much exercise you do, you just can’t shift that weight…”; and “do you have cheese or a burger, what? you have a cheeseburger? two for the price of one, that’s amazing!”; and “that woman… she’d take the priest off the altar!”. And, one of my favourites:
Doctor: “so tell me Mrs Walsh, are you drinking regularly?”
Granny: “oh yes I make sure I have 2 pints a day”
Doctor: “2 pints?! really?!”
Aunty Kathleen: “no you don’t mum, don’t be silly!”
Granny: “I do, I have 2 pints a day”
Doctor: “2 pints a day of Guinness?!”
Granny: “God no, 2 pints a day of water…”
Granny is a great person to go to the dogs with as she always backs a winner. She loves horse-racing and in particular the Grand National and shouts “go on, go on” at the TV when it’s on. In fact she is quite a big sports fan generally and cleverly plays on the fact that she’s hard of hearing when the football is on, but can hear you perfectly well if you whisper “Granny’s looking tired…” – “I am not!” she’ll retort.
She is funny, she is kind, she is in fact the most kind and generous-hearted person I’ve ever known, but she’s not soft and she doesn’t scare easily either – only a few years ago she had two young lads kick in her door and make a dash for her handbag in the sitting room, she came out of the kitchen and saw them and shouted “look what you’ve done to my door!! and what are you doing with my handbag?!” and they ran off taking nothing!
She adores, and is adored by, her family, and in fact anyone she’s ever come into contact with: everyone loves Mrs Walsh. I can’t wait to introduce her to Richmond Baby, who is her 12th great-granddaughter!
Granny, we love you.
This post is for week 64 of The Gallery over at Sticky Fingers, where the theme this week is Grandparents. Visit http://stickyfingers1.blogspot.com/ to read the other entries.