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Like many Irish people, I often have the radio on in the background.

My children, adults now, say I remind them of Nana – my mother. If you ever want to rile a woman, tell her she’s becoming her mother. These days, rather than being vexed, I smile inside. However, I do point out some key differences. I listen to morning and evening radio only (no afternoon palaver) and it is streamed through a smart speaker, which I control with voice commands. When I’m away, it’s the same smart speaker that I use to remind them to put out the bins and replace the dogs’ water daily. It’s irritating apparently. 

                                                       ‘Don’t dish it out if you cannot take it!’ as Mum would say. 

I heard on the radio last week that the last of Ireland’s telephone boxes were to be removed. Then I got a notification from a different media outlet about the same thing, it piqued my interest. I pulled up a photo, I’d taken in West Cork. Like most of my photos, I’d reworked it through the lens of my imagination. I’d used a title for the photo, ‘Call Me,’. But now two phrases came to mind. 

     ‘Last Call,’ the words you’d hear as the bar was getting ready to close for the evening, which usually accompanied a scramble to the counter to order. The lights would also be flickered, sometimes a bell rung. Inevitably a short time later ‘last call,’ would be followed up with a bellow of, ‘Have ye no homes to go to!’ 

     ‘Ireland’s Call,’ I wondered. Yet, that phrase reminds me of the sporting anthem. Especially with Ireland’s imminent Six Nations match against Wales.

The news reports and the photo on my screen sparked a string of memories of childhood summers in West Cork and my parents no longer with us. As March approaches, my mother is always foremost in my mind. Her birthday was March 12th was always in and around Mother’s Day. This year it’s two days out. 

When I worked with Mum in our family business, she’d drive us to work every morning from our home in Raheny. She’d repeat the same statement, “There’s the Brent Geese,” as we passed Dollymount Strand but only occasionally did she remind me of the miles and conditions they flew to migrant to Ireland for the winter. Mum grew up in Limerick an only girl with five younger brothers. She didn’t have a secondary education. While she did not perform well in school in the conventional sense, she was among the smartest women I knew. 

Of course, there were the other seasons, each offering a different view of Dublin Bay. With a shift of light, the sea glistened. At times the clouds were moody, heavy in various shades of grey. An ever-changing landscape for those who tune in to witness it. 

When I moved to Howth, now a mother myself, I loved that drive to work. I’d do the school run then go back home to clear the breakfast table, fill the dishwasher, put a wash on and make myself as presentable as I needed to be depending on the day ahead. A coffee in the Country Kitchen was mandatory. Lindsey knew my order. Then I was on my way to enjoy the thirty-minute coastal drive to work. 

Now, I’d see the Brent Geese at Sutton Strand near my old convent school, Santa Sabina. As the drive progressed, the Poolbeg Chimneys came into view. No radio on. Instead, it was a CD I’d burned with my favourite tunes. Usually questionable hits. The nineties equivalent of a playlist.

Dublin Bay, the Wicklow Mountains, particularly the distinct shape of the Sugar Loaf. I’d say to myself ‘There’s the Brent Geese,’ thinking of Mum even though I’d see her at some point in the day, as she was now combining work with minding my daughter. 

       ‘I missed out on raring my own children being a working mother, I’ll be damned if I’ll miss out on the joy of my granddaughter.’ 

It was a grand arrangement. The best part was, that Mum had my dinner ready and my daughter, April, fed and washed when I went to pick her up. And even better were the days, Mum was already in my house, April in her PJs the dishwasher unloaded and hung the clothes out. Score. 

The circle of life allowed me to pay back the time and energy my mother gave me. Payback isn’t the correct term. Love is not finite or conditional. We do what we do for the people we love. 

Now, as Ireland bids farewell to its iconic telephone boxes, it’s comforting to know they’ll find new life in their own circle of existence. And as the Brent Geese continue their migratory journey, the circle of life persists, reminding us of the enduring bonds that connect us across generations. 

     ‘There’s the Brent Geese,’ I hear my mother say. 

      Let’s keep flying.