Easter 2019 will see the gathering of the Lafferty clan in Tullynavin, Redcastle, Co. Donegal once more. Coming from such a large family it is an occasion that myself, my husband, my siblings, my children and the extended family look forward to every year. The family all return home for the Easter weekend and congregate at the Lafferty homestead in Tullynavin. The mad, crazy, wacky Uncle Packie comes home and welcomes the whole family with an Easter get-together that is memorable more and more as each year goes by. Everyone helps organise the day but without uncle Packie, his wife Lynda, uncle Brian, his wife Yvonne and family, this wouldn’t be quite so successful. It’s with huge thanks to them that Easter Sunday continues to be a ‘gathering’ and ‘coming together’ of our family.
At approximately 3pm on Easter Sunday for over 45 years the Lafferty family get together at the homestead and catch up on the year gone by. Initially I actually recall it being just a few of us cousins and the aunts, uncles, Granny and Granda. I even recall the bottles of tea! The family has grown unbelievably in recent years and the get-together just keeps getting bigger and better.
Sadly Granda Lafferty passed away in 1984, and Granny in 2000, but they are both here in spirit every year. Stories are told annually and they are both always at the heart of them. I’m particularly privileged in that my three boys remember Granny Cassie very well. She was a big part of their lives and it’s great knowing that they got to know their Great Granny so well. Sadly our youngest Uncle, Philip, passed away almost 10 years ago. He was, and still is. very much a part of the day. We have a lost a number of relations in recent years and just recently Marian. But they are all with us in spirit and will be thought on in a special way this Easter Sunday.
As my mother (twin with Ann) is the eldest of 11 children and myself and my sister Louise, the eldest of 48 cousins: the family is extremely close and all keep in regular contact. Easter Sunday has always been the core of our year and we all look forward to the day. The family is now extended with cousins marrying and the next generation of children enjoy coming to the annual gathering. Young and old wait patiently for the day every year. I remember when my own three boys were younger, they would finish lunch on Easter Sunday and for two hours after I would get, ˜”Mum are we going now. The match will be starting. We need to go”. Patience ran very thin in the build up to this special ‘gathering.’
The match my boys talked of was the on-going football match which now takes place in Uncle Brian’s garden. His garden is turned into a football pitch for the day, goal posts and all! He and his wife Yvonne are saints for allowing such, but it is so appreciated by all. Whilst the cousins, kids and mad uncles are playing footie, the ladies, girls and some of the younger kids are in the homestead sipping tea and coffee and having a good old gossip. We do join in on the game every so often and once a kick is had, it’s off we go.
The complete wacky Uncle Packie makes the trip from Meath every year and comes with a fortune of goodies and wit, and the ultimate sarcasm! Races are held later in the day and more recently karaoke, and now we also have ‘Tullynavin’s Got Talent’ with buzzers, judges and the works. There’s even a trophy for the winners. Move over Simon Cowell, we got Packie Lafferty!
An egg hunt gets underway at some stage during the day and a treasure hunt is normally thrown in too. Mind you, we’re still seeking the treasure!! However, I’m guessing the ultimate treasure is that of family.
A game of Bingo takes place in the house around early night-time. Prizes can be pretty cool. Depends on the mood Packie is in, and just how pleasant you are to him! But it’s bingo with a laugh and you don’t have the money spent in your head before winning, cos there is no money. There might be a odd debate about the number called or indeed the caller, but it’s all done in jest.
THE EASTER FIRE
Liam Moyne continues to light the Easter fire during the day and eggs are boiled, and eaten just as quickly as they’re boiled. Liam was always assisted by Billy Grant in past years, but sadly Billy is no longer with us. I don’t doubt he’s up there instructing that fire on these Easter Sunday’s though. Tradition lives on in so many ways.
Throughout the day, memories are recalled and made. Family bond, and banter throughout the day. Muck is spread on wet days and skin is tanned on good ones! And if the current forecast for this forthcoming Easter Sunday is correct, we might just need the sunscreen.
Some cousins won’t be with us this year. Scotland, England, Australia, and more hold a little piece of our family. But they’re all thought of in a very special way, and will hopefully make contact on the day.
This family isn’t perfect. We don’t pretend to be. But we are a FAMILY and it is ever extending. As Jane Howard said ‘Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.’ And thankfully WE have ONE.
So all you Lafferty’s, McCauley’s, McLaughlin’s, Moyne’s, McGuinnesses, Grants, the now extended McCools, Bradleys, O’Donnells, McConellogues, and all the others, here’s to a very fun-filled Easter Sunday.