- Outside M. Feeney's shop in Arles.
If you went to Arles National School in the
1940's you will remember this view (above), happy school days!
Mrs Shannon as we called her, (should have been Shanahan)
who lived in that little house, owned by Mrs Bernard Mc Donald,
in the background of this photo.
Mrs Shannon who became a widow in 1910 lived there with her
only son Willie, whom she adored. She was a very gentle
pious Chapel woman, keeping the flowers
arranged for Mass, always to be found in the Chapel either
praying, working, cleaning the seats, sweeping the floors, looking after
everybody, and always the ghostly slow TICK > TOCK of the
grandfather clock. I can still hear it, even now, that strange deadly echo sound
that came from that clock, as I walked around the Chapel on a
quite lonely evening.
One of her most important duties was ringing the Angeles bell
at 12 noon and 6, not exactly G M T, but for a lot of people the
Angeles was their only contact with time. New time, old time,
Summer time, all ignored. Is that new time or old time? The old people used to talk
about old Gods time and the twenty five minutes they lost and
the 11days way back.
Mrs Shannon was always very kind and helpful to poor people
and especially kind to children. I think it was about the middle of 1935 on a Summer afternoon, Willie Shannon was in bed with a cold, his Mother waiting for
Dr Lane to call, time 2 o'clock old time. Willie was taken straight away to St
Brigit's Hospital Dublin St, Carlow, where he died two hours
You could never imagine the emotion and sadness that swept
through Arles that afternoon. At 6 P M, I found myself, standing
with Fr Killeen at the Chapel gate, holding the holy water ,
waiting for the coffin to arrive. It was my week for serving
funerals. Everybody was there from miles around waiting, ponies
and traps, horses and cars, a silent stunned crowd, and Mrs
Shannon, standing on her own, staring at her thoughts. The hearse
and coffin are there at last, and the slow journey into the
Chapel. The coffin is placed on the bier. I am standing at the head of
the coffin, Fr Killian is praying, there is a strange silence,
except for the clock.
Time passes and people start leaving
or talking in low voices. I was with Fr Killian waiting to go to
the vestry, when Mrs Shannon came up to him and demanded to see
Willie for the last time. Fr Killian said No No, its not done, it will upset you
more. Mike Deegan and Bernard got involved trying to get her to
leave, many others pleaded, but to no avail, so the decision was
taken to grant her wish. Screwdrivers had to be found, it was now getting late, but
eventually the coffin lid was removed. Mrs Shannon
lost all control. She caught hold of his body and
screamed his name many times.
I shall never forget that
scene. I can remember been surprised that his body was still
warm. Imagine my surprise years later, when I asked where was she
buried, she was forgotten.