December 13th, 1903 - May 28th, 1961 - December 13th, 2003
A special and popular resident of Riverstown and a member of the founding families with his beloved Dolly Marmion. Christo, "Daddy", is the one in whose memory this website has been developed. I hope the reader will not mind a small excursion through treasured memories associated with his kindness, compassion, generosity and love of family and life. Some memories are taken from other pages and presented here to honour the memory of this very special parent who will never been forgotten by family and friends.
We start with the old homestead in Hawkenstown, home of Thomas and Annie Wall - not well know to us as children but visited often in recent years as we marvelled how this small two bed roomed, humble home could produce a family of eight, including Christo, whose values, faith and commitment to family were second to none. Visits to and from these Uncles and Aunts were a very special part of our childhood.
Christo and Dolly Marmion married and set up home in Riverstown. The small dairy farm was tough work. Ten or eleven cows had to be milked morning and night, ditches had to be dug and trees planted, crops tended to and farm animals fed and cared for. The hardships were unknown to us at the time as the nurturing and care of family always remained number one. We were rich beyond compare and immersed in a family atmosphere that was always filled with love and kindness. We are most grateful and have never forgotten.
These were the first two "gosuns", a term of endearment that would become a familiar one to all of us. When Tommy, our next door neighbour, needed a helping hand, thinning the turnips or picking the spuds, he knew that Christo was good for the loan of a few "gosuns" to help him out. Tommy's drills always seemed so much longer than our own! On some occasions there might be a whine or a complaint from some of us who found the going tough. This is when we would hear a father's gentle wisdom in two of his favourite sayings: "The old dog for the hard road and the pup for the headland" or perhaps, "Gosuns, there is only one way to do a job and that is the right way!
Gaelic football was a big part of Christo's life. He played with the Ardcath team (2nd from the right, bottom row) and played with the Meath Juniors on at least one occasion. The Royal County's All Ireland win in '49 was an occasion of great joy and celebration. He brought all of us to the great bonfire at Meadesbrook - school the next morning playing second fiddle to Meath's first All Ireland win.
Children and music also played an enormous part in Christo's life. Two of his favourite songs were "The Little Beggarman" and "My Mary of the Curling Hair" which he used to sing to his niece Mary when she came for holidays. We would gather around the radio and listen to Dinjo and "Take the Floor". Rory O'Connor and his dancers danced to the "The Three Sea Captains" - music and rhythm that found a special place in our souls. Gob music more than sufficed as the melodies were learned and enjoyed without instruments. Uncle Jack Marmion would arrive some evenings with the fiddle and then the craic would be "ninety"!
Family get-togethers were a big part of this family's values. Christo, Tom (above, back row right) and Willie (with the white horse) were particularly close. I will always remember Tom's "Bail O Dhia ar and Obair" as he arrived for a visit and Willie's expertise as he plied his trade as stone mason and brick-layer.
Holidays in Painstown each Summer were times of great adventure and friendship with cousins. It would take several hours to get there in the baker's van and so we thought we were very far from home. Imagine the surprise and delight one evening when Daddy arrived on "Smell Hell", his new red racing bike. Not only was there a few extra shillings in our pockets but the hugs and chat were a tonic like no other. We were so proud to see him on that bike!
Neighbours knew each other well and often got together for cards, ceilighs or just a visit and a chat. As a child, I remember one such ceiligh in Cudden's house. Christo and Dolly did the sword dance (sweeping brushes were used for swords) and Dolly gave a recitation about a young girl stealing a loaf of bread to feed her family. I remember my mother's tears during that recitation and now realise that the performing arts were alive and well in Riverstown at the time. Tommy Cox sang a song that evening that is legendary - "I took Miss McNally to a fancy ball... and lost my half a crown". Needless to say, "A little bit of tear" also let him down.
The seaside and Bellewstown Races were probably the two most exciting venues each year. Jimmy Woods' taxi was arranged and the jaunt was pure magic as we bounced around in the big leather seats. I don't know whether we took turns each year but our collective memory is that we all went... every year! I remember my mother would always back a grey horse.
Santa Claus (Santy) plays a great part in childhood memories of our father. We have always felt a great sadness that he did not live long enough to meet and share his love and passion for life with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. The magic of Christmas was always tied up with "Santy"; great food, great music on the radio and affection from parents that knew no bounds. Tearing down the back lane from Ardcath Church after midnight Mass to see if "Santy" came; getting a slice from the ham or pudding before bedtime; listening carefully for sounds that might indicate "Santy's" imminent arrival - precious memories that continue to define a quality of life nearly sixty years later. Thank you - "Daddy" and "Mammy"! Beannacht O Dhia oraibh!