An Irishman’s home is his…porous border??
by Robert O’Mochain

My childhood home had an unlocked front door that welcomed customers, friends, acquaintances, and all manner of wayfarers. The joys of having a motor business next door in 1970s rural Ireland! At any moment of the day, Mam would hear a tap on the glass section of the front door or a quick rap on its silver letter slot that bore the word “litir” in Celtic script, a reflection of the enthusiasm of Irish language revivalists back in the 1930s. “Could you change a cheque for me, missus,” shouted across the glass panel by a farmer in cow-shit wellingtons. “Is the young lad there to wash the car?” would dispatch me to the carwash and cow-shit vehicles.

My scopic drive absorption in the glittering images of television was shattered by those friends of the family who dropped by every now and then with no particular purpose in mind. They updated us on what they had heard and asked us what we had heard about the people who formed the warp and weft of community imagination. Who was in hospital, who had died, what were the wake and funeral arrangements; who was getting married, who were they related to, how many were going to the reception? Voicing out parish banalities in loud but warm voices, the interlopers marred my viewing pleasures and made me dream of the middle-class homes of television world. In that world, people would ring the doorbell of sturdy front doors, they would arrive for the party, they would leave at the appointed time. I suspected that world might be a product of fantasy.

Now, my childhood world seems like fantasy. I live secure and solitary in my apartment, protected by intercom and politeness. “Something’s lost and something’s gained.”

Photo by Gleren Meneghin on Unsplash

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert O’Mochain belongs to Ritsumeikan University’s College of International Relations in Kyoto, Japan. His modest literary endeavours include public readings of Yeats, essays on Irish patriot Sir Roger Casement, and efforts to find a publisher for an essay on Beckett’s “Not I.”