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  • My mother’s parents lived in a small rural house on a lane outside Thurles town in Tipperary.

    Pictured above is my grandmother with four of her five daughters and two of her sons (my mother is the one trying to fix her hair.)

    At the front of the house were two lawns dotted with forget-me-nots, and at the back a large yard before an acre of pasture land. The house had no running water or plumbing and was a small, modest, three-bedroom bungalow in which to raise a large family of ten children. My grandparents didn’t have very much money, but it was a happy respectable home where they got by as they could and made do with what they had.

    As is sometimes the case with children, my mother and her siblings might sometimes have fussed over a spot on their face, a tatty or unfashionable piece of clothing or a stain from breakfast on a blouse that could not be changed for anything better.

    But at the bottom of that field was a train line, obscured by trees and bushes and a deep ditch, and at intervals during the day the mail train would travel down it with any aboard being pretty oblivious to the house beyond their view, and vice versa. So my grandmother developed a saying.

    “There’s a lot’ll go down on the mail train won’t see that!”

    She said it to anyone in her house who complained over something about themselves that they felt was not good enough to be seen, as reminder that the majority of people who pass us by each day are essentially too absorbed in their own journey to care or judge us, and that those who do deserve no more attention from us than those who don’t. The whole family now says the mail train line.

    My grandmother was an intelligent woman.
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