Somewhere on the road between Boora and cloghan in the “arsehole” of offaly is a wee house that has seen a complete overhaul to itself in the last few years. It has been altered beyond recognition. Now when we were very young, all eight of us plus our parents, we would be driving by that house from time to time, and not a word in the car. We would be travelling usually to or from our father’s home place in Cadamstown. His three brothers lived together on the old homestead eking out their living and passing their final days by the smoke of the range and the odd bottle of whiskey in the press. But anyway, back to this house. It was a thatched house. There was never a sign of life about the place and it had the air of decrepitness and creepiness. Why the silence when passing it? Well, there’s a story to that.
Imagine eight kids from the ages of 11 down to 1, in the one car, a ford cortina or a ford anglia and not a safety belt among us, screaming and shouting, pulling each other’s hair, one trying to outbest the other for attention from the two parents in the front and possibly a baby or two in the mother’s arms. There came a point in that car where the noise level had reached unimaginable proportions, and the two grown ups, who up till now had managed to filter out a lot of the commotion in the back , simply couldn’t take any more so out came the threats that we would be passing by the Boody woman’s house soon and that any children who couldn’t behave would quite simply be escorted into that house and she, the boody woman, would put manners on us. I now conjure up images of about three of us, children, in a Hessian sack on the back of the kitchen door waiting terrified for what wrath this hag was going to bestow upon us. Well that soon shut us up. There wouldn’t be as much as a squeak for the next 10 minutes after passing the house.
You may say that these parents of ours were acting in a dubious manner but you are not allowed to give an opinion. Only we can. Some of us might agree with you. Others will simply just say that it was an effective way to shut eight over stimulated and extraordinarily active children in a confined space and silence them for a period of no more than 5 minutes. Because, believe me! Before we arrived at our destination, the noise level had peaked yet again and we would all bale out of the car rapidly, some of us with a fistful of hair missing, many of us tearful, others with a headache, parents giving out yards and one of us smugly feeling triumphant that he or she had come out the dominant one. That dominant one was never me!!