By Anne Friel

Some nights ago I had a few friends over for a slap-up meal. It was more for the get-together and the chat than anything else.

Sitting around the table afterwards talking about this and that and fifty other things, Carmel (my Sligo friend) said, “Can you remember the telegrams?” Could we remember!

Hailing from North Mayo, of course I could. Anthony from Donegal happened to be a “wire boy” in his young days. Had he stories!

Telegrams were usually brief and to the point. Down our way George always delivered the telegrams on his push bike. To see George coming to your door was ominous. I remember the only time I saw my Dad cry.

The one-liner read, “Margaret died suddenly, signed Anthony”.

Margaret was his much-loved sister in law in California. Despite 6,000 miles separation he was united in spirit with his grieving brother.

George was an oldish man with a well lived-in face; he always wore a sailor hat and heavy lensed glasses. He seemed to have been well travelled and as the saying goes, “An Té atá Siúlach bíonn sé scéalach”.

We loved George and his stories and he loved my mother’s brown bread and a mug of good strong tea.

Oh, I nearly forgot, you had to have a shilling to cover the delivery cost. It was a great service as George would book a hackney/taxi in Killala to take my parents to the wake or funeral.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own