We might never have found out about his celebrated past if an Irish Newspaper in Kilkenny had not written an article reporting the homecoming of football hero Paddy Forde and the warmest of welcomes my father received when he was greeted by a brass band at the railway station in Kilkenny upon arrival during a rare visit back to Ireland. Having been a young 'football widow' for three years and also the mother of three children under 4-years of age, my father's continued absence from the family home was a period in my mother's early marriage that she didn't want reminding of. Occasionally, mum would mention in annoyance that my dad played football, but all details of when, where and who for was never mentioned. Dad usually allowed such barbed comments to pass without elaborating on them.
Mum would undoubtedly have accepted my father's regular absence from the home more readily, had being a national footballer in 1945 attracted the huge wages professional footballers receive today. But these were the days when Irish footballers who played for their county and country, did it wage-free and received travelling expenses only! These were the days when the 'pride of doing something for one's country' trumped 'what amount of payment one might receive in recompense'.These were the days of 'giving' and not 'taking'.
The Forde family eventually migrated to England and after dad commenced work as a miner, the growing family lived in a tied cottage in Liversedge, West Yorkshire, until we moved into a brand new council house with ceramic bath, indoor toilets, and a working shed for dad to keep his tools and bicycle. My mother gave birth to seven children of whom I was the oldest, wisest, most devilish and best looking of the brood.
During my first 15 years of life, mum and dad were as happy as any young married couple with little money and lots of children could possibly be. The family was very close and we went on family walks every Sunday afternoon after arriving back from attending church.
Like all families, we had our family traditions and like all Irish Immigrants of the time, my parents remained fiercely Irish in their taste whenever it came to songs, stories and films. Ever since we first got a television, there has never been one Christmas when the Forde Family would sit in front of the box and watch the most famous of all Irish films, 'The Quiet Man' that starred father's favourite film star, John Wayne, and his red-headed independent wife, Maureen O'Hara, whose fiery temper and stubborn ways gave the movie its main storyline. Indeed, ever since that first Christmas, we viewed this family film, never has a Christmas passed by without its seasonal viewing by myself, out of respect for my deceased parents as well as for my own pleasure. In fact, I'd say that without the erection of a proper Chrismas tree inside the lounge, without my attendance at Midnight Mass, receiving Holy Communion and singing 'Silent Night', and without watching 'The Quiet Man' during the Christmas festive season' then'It just wouldn't be Christmas!'
Throughout the film of 'The Quiet Man' could be heard the theme tune of that wonderful Irish song 'The Isle of Innisfree'. I swear that this haunting melody and the words of the song shall stay with me until the day I die, Even in the event that I get severe Alzheimer's before I die, even then, I know I will never forget both tune and words to this wonderful song. Indeed, my mother loved the song so much that I cannot recall one day during my development to getting married at the age of 26 years that I didn't hear her sing it repeatedly as she worked around the house.
I only have one more thing to do as I say to my wife, Sheila to conclude this morning's post. The words are taken from a line that is taken from the film's concluding scene and which every Irish man knows by heart and repeats daily to his spouse,
Let me briefly set the final scene of the film. Sean Thornton (John Wayne) returns home with his feuding brother-in-law (Victor McLaglen).who has never accepted his sister's marriage to the character Shaun Thornton. Both men have had a huge fight that lasts half an hour (one-third of the film's length) which finishes up without a conclusive winner. They instantly become eternal buddies and get drunk before going back to Sean Thornton's home arm-in-arm in drunken revelry. As Sean Thornton enters his home, his wife is setting the table for her husband and brother to dine. Thornton flings his flat cap through the air and it lands perfectly on a wall hook as he pronounces his immortal words that are inscribed on the mind and heart of every Irish man since 1952, "Get the tea (pronounced tae) on woman! Your husband's home and he's brought your brother with him!'