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31 August 2014
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The Leaving of Sailortown

A part of me died when my father closed the door on that old house.......

Submitted by:
Gerry Gallagher
43 New Andrew St.

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A part of me died when my father closed the door on that old house.
I was only fourteen but the sense of loss was as great then as it was when my father himself was to die years later.

You see I didn't know that for most of the early part of my life that I had
been brought up in a slum, in a rundown neighbourhood. In my own childlike
way I didn't feel disadvantaged just because we didn't have a bathroom or an inside toilet. Some faceless bureaucrat decided that.

I remember my father and brothers disassembling the house and its contents
room by room, piece by piece. Small pieces of insignificant crockery were
carefully wrapped up by my mother. Each piece had its own story to tell. I knew
she had mixed feelings, after all we were moving to a new house and yet the old
place was full of voices and memories now long gone.

You see at fourteen I didn't understand what URBAN REGENERATION meant.
I didn't feel marginalised or impoverished. Sure getting washed each Saturday night in a tin bath in front of the fire was wonderful.

I remember the door being closed for that last time and something inside of me
died. A part of my life and childhood was being wrenched away from me and
I wasn't able to do anything about it.

You see fourteen is an awkward age, you want to be seen as a man on the outside
but on the inside you are still a child. I wanted to tell those bureaucrats that we
didn't need a motorway; I wanted to tell those bureaucrats that I didn't live in a slum. I wanted to tell those bastards that I was happy here in my "slum", that I was someone here in my "slum", that I counted for something here in my "slum".

I did go back to the old neighbourhood a few times after leaving. It was as if I
could hear that old house calling me, beckoning me. As I stood outside its bricked up windows it was as if that old, empty, now hollow house, was talking to me, was telling me that it too was lonely and now barren and lifeless. It longed for the sound of children's voices and a fire in the hearth. Now it was cold and dark and decaying. One day I went back and it was gone--nothing but a pile of rubble and dust.

Something inside of me died when I left that house, something inside of all of us died that day. But then I was only fourteen and that's an awkward age. Sure I soon met a girl and fell madly in love and my burden was eased. But at times in my mind I still go back to that old house to its sounds and smells as if it was only yesterday.

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