"Before I was five years old, with my father facing the prospects of no work in Ireland, my parents came to England to start anew with their growing family. Then, England was a country which seemed great in many respects.
Passing through Killorglin two days ago on my Irish holiday, my mind went to 'The Puck Fair' where in August each year, a wild male goat (a Puck), is crowned king of the town for three days and is placed on high.This ancient ceremony reminds the natives of the once greatness of Killorglin in the early 17th century. England too was once great when my family emigrated there, but where has it all gone? The country we once were and its greatness, we seem to have lost.
'Where there's a will there's a way' is a saying that my mother often reminded me of whenever she saw me struggle with some situation that seemed to better me or sensed that I was in danger of succumbing to the dangers of defeatism.
I was instantly reminded by mum that if the British people during the Second World War years had run in the house, shut their doors and never opened them again at the first sight and sound of a bomb heading towards them, that old Hitler would have buried this nation before its time and had his storm troopers march merrily over our graves.
But we were made of much sterner stuff, I was reliably informed. My mother told me that the adversity we faced as a nation brought out in us an inventiveness that was rooted in the seeds of creation itself. When the country starved, we uprooted our lawns and flowers and grew vegetables in our gardens and allotments. When our clothes were damaged and torn, we darned and mended, and when we had less than we wanted, we made do with what little we had without complaint. When a neighbour was in greater need than ourselves, we willingly shared what little we had with them and were glad to do so. When the young women went out and had no stockings to wear, they drew stockings on their legs. When anyone in the street lost a loved one to the bombing of our towns and cities or on the battlefields of Europe, all neighbours grieved alongside them.
There was no adversity which the British people allowed to overface them. My mother once told me that she once read about a woman in London, who during the Blitz, lost her mother and two of her three children in a night-time bombing raid, along with the total destruction of her house. At the time of the bombing, she and one of her children had momentarily popped out to the end of the street and had returned to find their house reduced to rubble and the rest of their family dead beneath the burning ruins.
The woman naturally grieved her loss and buried her dead. One week later she was seen sorting through the rubble of her destroyed home after she had sent her only remaining child off to school. During her search she retrieved her doorstep which had adorned the house entrance ever since it had first been built and which she had washed and whitened daily.
One of the neighbouring children who was being taken to school by his mother saw the woman in the ruins of her bombed house and asked why she was sending her Tommy to school one week after his two brothers and grandmother had been killed in the bombing. His mother reportedly replied, 'Nay lad, what else can she do but to get on and live her life out the best way she can. To do less would be to give way to old Hitler! In fact, knowing her as I do, I wouldn't be surprised to find her washing down and whitening her old doorstep again tomorrow for future use, if it's still in one piece. So get off to school and do your bit for the war effort. We'll not let old Hitler wear us down. Where there's a will there's a way and we'll find it! We'll win through, you'll see. Now get theesen off to school before I get the Inspector on you!'
If only this country could recapture the courage, character, fortitude and British spirit that existed during the Second World War years, we'd soon get ourselves out of this economic mess the country currently finds itself in and the absence of English indentity that we seem to have lost down the European plughole!" William Forde: July 7th 2015.