One of my brothers in Ireland gifted me a book entitled "Ghosts of the Faithful Departed," by David Creedon. It is a beautiful, sad, and poignant pictorial trip down memory lane.  As I browsed through the photographs I began to realize how important a part religion played in the generations before us.

In the 160 pages of this book the iconic Sacred Heart painting was displayed at least 14 times, I had to look hard to see the last few, but they are there!

Religious statues such as the Child of Prague, considered lucky in my home-place if the head was broken off, religious calendars, paintings of the Virgin Mary, prayer books, scapulars, memorial cards, and pictures of various popes feature no less than 37 times in the 160 pages.

It is a beautiful book and shows what holds meaning for people. An unworn dress, purchased in America, with tags still attached, hangs from the back of a bedroom door. Probably too fashionable to wear in Ireland at the time. Maybe a daughter bought it for her mother and sent it home to Ireland as a gift. It was never worn.

I pulled out a magnifying glass to see what stood on mantelpieces beside crucifixes and candlestick holders; a small tin of Brasso, no longer keeping things shiny, but collecting dust like everything else. A calendar dated 1974 droops lopsided from a wall.

The most distressing picture of all is actually two pictures of the same scene, each taken just twelve months apart. Time ravages not just the body, but the things the body builds to give it warmth and comfort.

My father often said, “Time nor tide waits for no man.” "Ghosts of the Faithful Departed" is a brutal and vivid reminder that they don’t.

How many mothers and fathers sat beside an open fire and prayed the rosary for the son or daughter they saw off to America? Did the Sacred Heart painting hanging on the wall give them solace? Did the statue of the Virgin Mary or the Child of Prague ease their sorrow? Who knows? Maybe they did.

Top Image: "Ghosts of the Faithful Departed" interior photo of room with painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on display. (Image Source: Photographers.ie)

Originally posted on Breise Breise

Views: 278

Tags: Books, History of Ireland, Opinion, Photograph, Reviews, Visual Arts


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Comment by Fran Reddy on January 22, 2015 at 4:17pm

Thanks Lonnie. The book sounds haunting and intriguing at the same time...

Comment by Lonnie on January 22, 2015 at 5:28pm

Thanks Fran. If it youself that's doing the lay out of the article, it's just fantastic. Thank you.

Comment by DJ Kelly on January 26, 2015 at 2:25am

You have definitely persuaded me to buy this book.

The Portuguese too have experienced the intense heartbreak of widespread family migration. In Portugal, especially on Sundays, families may be seen sitting in their cars by the coast, gazing out across the Atlantic, playing haunting Fado music on their car CD players and shedding the odd tear for the long departed. They have a word for this intense feeling and expression of loss and longing - 'saudade'. It does not easily translate into English. It's the same feeling I get when I look at the photos I took in Mayo of my mother's old home and her beloved dance hall, now in ruins.


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Comment by That's Just How It Was on January 30, 2015 at 7:27am

Time and tide wait for no man ; a favorite adage of my Grandmothers . She was and still is a hugh influence in my life ; even thought she passed away 45 years ago. 

My Book - That's Just How It Was- is a tribute to her ; 

Video - 

Youtube: http://youtu.be/oT0oOa0jx28

Comment by Lonnie on January 30, 2015 at 7:35am

Thanks for Reading and commenting Mary and DJ. Yes, it is a haunting book.

Comment by DJ Kelly on January 30, 2015 at 7:41am

Just awaiting my copy and looking forward to reading it.

Comment by DJ Kelly on February 4, 2015 at 2:01am

Received my copy and it is indeed a lovely book. Will pass it on to my daughter.

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