I listened to the very courageous Anna McPartlin this morning, telling her extraordinary childhood story, to the RTÉ One (As Gaeilge, RTÉ a hAon) Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ)] renowned presenter Marian Finuchane.
She endured great suffering as a child. Her mother separated from her father, when she was only five years old. She thus moved with her mother from Kerry to Glasnevin, Dublin, to the abode of her grandmother, where she sat on the wall outside her new home for a whole fortnight, waiting for her father to arrive. Alas, he never did come. Anna, thereafter became stoically minded and never enquired after him anymore.
Anna’s mother – soon after her marriage separation was diagnosed with MS. So from a very a young age, Anna had responsibility of caring and worrying about her mother and grandmother, the latter of whom wasn’t exactly copus-mentis at the best of times and inevitably resulted in a few falls and forgetfulness. Pulling her grandmother up off the floor, despite her heavy weight was the least of Anna’s worries – she says, with great laughter to Marian. The latter too was a ‘great aul gas’; and very fond of an ‘aul tipple’. She recounts her childhood to Marian in a most philosophical way. Cognizant of the fact that she never remembered it any other way – it was part and parcel of her young life.
When people remarked at how difficult life had been for her as a child, she always made it clear at how much loved she was by all those around her in her young life, excepting, of course, her Dad, with whom she had a personality clash.* [One can see where it stems from indeed.]
Her mother, who was so remarkable, was one of the great loves of her life.
AMcP also related to Marian some funny, awkward and poignant moments she had regarding her absent-minded grandmother and mother. For example, her grandmother had the propensity for literally getting her knickers in an ‘up’ ‘down’ negotiation twist and mother pleaded with Anna to go to her aid. Anna laughed her head off as she reminisced about the grandmother to the presenter. One day when she came home from school her mother was on the floor – due to spasmodic muscle problems, and she called to the child to come and lie on the floor beside her to tell her all about her day. It was a touching moment with her mother, who evidently loved her so dearly.
There was no sense of bitterness in Anna’s voice at all as she regaled to Marian the responsibilities that unfortunately due to adverse circumstances were visited upon her from a young age. She seemed to have taken it all in her stride and got on with it – come what may. The mother’s very strong love doubtless grounded Anna and gave her great strength of character.
Her mother/grandmother sadly deteriorated that Anna McPartlin reluctantly was left with no option but to move to Kenmare, Kerry, to live with her kind aunt [father’s sister] and five cousins. She was naturally heartbroken and pined away for her dearest loving mother. She was so used to being a caring person in the lives of her mother/grandmother and was worried silly about how her mother she was managing without her in the nursing-home. Anna was still only ten years old. She was in regular contact with her mother, though, via letter-writing, who was in a nursing home in Dublin, approximately 80 miles away. This is where Anna’s love of writing began.
Her father came to visit her, perhaps once or twice annually, but there was no rapport between them at all. Her father met another woman and everyone in the town of Kenmare knew that Anna had a half-sister, except Anna herself.
She once went on a caravan holiday with her father and his partner, the latter of whom Anna really liked; and found herself having to grab her father by the scruff of the neck out of the pub, because she couldn’t bear to see his partner humiliated and suffering. He had spend the whole day in the pub and was plastered. The very next day she packed her bags and went off to Kenmare.
Her father was the one person who had the capacity to rile her so much and she found herself reacting to him, by physically lashing out. She said that it was so alien to her mild nature.
Her mother eventually died when Anna was seventeen years old.
Marian said that another person would have been on their knees with all Anna had to put up with and instead, she is a bundle of fun and joy.
Anna went on to become a comedienne and a successful writer. She’s very popular with Germans, whom she says, really ‘get it’ when it comes to dark v light humour in her books.
I will watch out for her books.
Anna McPartlin is an inspiration to all those who have had to overcome difficulties in their childhoods.
*[One can see where it stems from indeed.]