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“A tribute to and a laugh with my mother” - what are the 10 things I would save if my house was on fire?

By Mairéad Nî Uigînn


A tribute to and a laugh with my mother inspired by the question :

What are the 10 things I would save from my house if it was on fire?


The photo of my mother,

Someone said she looks like a boy in it,

She rebelled against my father in so many small ways;

The building contractor wouldn’t listen to her when she said that putting a mass concrete chimney over her little Jubilee was a bad idea, the contractor and my father stood in the middle of the kitchen scratching their heads and nodding and went ahead and built it anyway.....,

She’d often look at it, after someone had banged their head off it for the umpteenth time and say “I’ll bring in the sledgehammer and break that thing down!” She did eventually....,

Speaking of smoke, “smokes”, my mother would smoke sneaky fags, Consulates,

I reckon she loved them because they tasted minty and because she thought they were kind of sinful..., while my father was out, we’d jump up and quickly fan the smoke away when we’d hear the key in the door.

I remember our house going on fire one Sunday and my mother putting it out while my brother jumped around shouting ‘everyone out’, my father and the priest were in the living room unaware of the commotion in the kitchen waiting for their dinner and when she had put the fire out with an armful of wet tea towels she sent my father and the priest packing to get their dinner in a local hotel, then we relaxed in the calm aftermath, glad the fire was out and the men were gone.


I’d take the necklace of pearls she gave me, because they were the last present she gave me of a physical nature, she gave me so many psychologically, spiritually, I mean they are my spirit, she inspired my spirit, the mischievousness, find ways of doing small things you enjoy, that’s what I learnt from her.


You know the rest I’d leave, once I have those memories to remind me of those wonderful times with her.


Well amongst the 10 things then are compassion, kindness, laughter, sadness I feel today at her loss, fun, love, and how many more can I bring, yes the others are, ingenuity and perseverance, there, now if my house burns down it’ll be a real pity for it’s sake but I’ve just realised almost all the things I would take out are inside of me...., I’d take the photo and pearls too!

Thanks Mam, I miss you!

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