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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

I nDil Cuimhne Mary B Anson

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In truth, I could not remember the actual date when Mary B Anson died (Trocaire Dé ar a hanam) but I knew that it was in the middle of December two years ago . I remember the dark period of descent into her death as I was in regular touch with her father Brian who is both a comrade and mentor (both in a cultural and spiritual sense) to me.

Establishing the exact date of such a tragic, untimely and heartbreaking event is not simply a matter of ringing the parents and asking for the information; and yet, last night I couldn’t sleep at all and tossed and turned and wriggled in my bed until at 0530 I rose from my disquiet, convinced that this was the day that Mary B died. And so it proved, as I began, bleary eyed, to go through my correspondence with the Anson family.

A Celebration

This short essay is not a Caoineadh (a lament or dirge) but rather a Comóradh, a celebration of remembrance and also a despatch of my thoughts about Mary B. I never met her. In fact, the only physical contact we had was via our eardrums in two telephone conversations. And yet, I immediately sensed that she was a soul mate – an anam chara. A mate, also, in that workerist use of the word because she was a comrade worker in a world controlled by people who fear workers and the latent power for change that we possess.

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Mary B’s light shone brightly and she blazed across the firmament in a riot of doing which led her into the arts, poetry, film; into total engagement. It is no sad thing to have done so much. To have touched so many. Those who have great wealth and privilege cling on to life and do everything to avoid death and having to face their own mortality, knowing all the time that mortaility cannot be bought off. Mary B did not cling to life for grim death but brought her own life and genius into everything that she did. This is why she was a goddess amongst us, whose light will always outshine that of the rich dilettantes, the charlatans, the corrupt; no matter how they try and hide and buy time to avoid truth’s shining light. For I have no doubt that we all face the same question when we cross that threshold into the great beyond – What did you do with your life? Did you work for the greater good, or for greed and avarice?

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Workers are brave. They have to be. Workers are not cynics. Workers believe that things can be changed, and that things must be changed, through hard work, through inspiration; most of all through love, real love. The love of Worker Bees like us. The love of Mary B.

Before she finally went into intensive care, she had carried on working. In the last conversation she had with her father, she tried to whisper through the oxygen mask – “Poppa do some sketches of the machines attached to me because I want to do some paintings about all this when I’m better.” Now that is a fucking worker.

There is one other important thing which links Mary B and me. We are (for me she still lives and loves and I can feel her all around me as I write and cry these words); we are both Celts with all the fire and stubbornness and rebelliousness for which the emigrant Celt is renowned. A fire that our people at home sometimes lack. When I was small and growing up in the backstreets of Salford, people would remark on my fiery blue eyes and hot temper, and I did genuinely feel that I belonged somewhere else. My grandmother used to call me an Irish Bol-shev-ik, with the stress on “shev”, and that is exactly what I became. When I spoke to Mary B on the phone, whilst staying at her father’s house in France, I knew instinctively that not only was she a comrade but that she was a Celtic Comrade. A Bol-shev-ik. (Now we are both laughing).

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Gúim go gcuimhnímid go deo an spioraid agus ceannairceacht a bhí ag Mary B, agus go mbeimid ag spreagadh a leithéid i measc na nGael cibé ait a bhfuil siad ar an domhan.
I pray that we will keep the spirit and rebelliousness which Mary B always showed in our memory, and that we will spread the same thing all over the world, wherever the Gaeil are to be found.

(Mary was cremated in Falmouth, Cornwall and then her remains were returned to France where she now rests with her sister Niamh in the cemetery at Milhac, Bordeaux)

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