As Jarlath’s youngest sister one of my earliest childhood memories was him bathing us little ones (most probably as a parental punishment) and his horror at having to deal with my wild long hair, getting shampoo in my eyes and then singing to me to stop my tears, or to stop Mom hearing!
But I can’t think of Jar without thinking of his love of Cars. Cars. Cars. And more cars.
Knowing his car mania our sister Cathy once gave him the money to find her a car. He turned up at our parent’s house in surburban Cockfosters with a bright pink American monstrosity. According to another car obsessed brother it was actually a Chevrolet Camero but it’s position on the driveway was a horror to our Mom. Jar loved it, and had fits of real belly laughs whenever it was mentioned. He thought it was pink, and therefore a proper statement girl’s car. Our Dad loved it too and wanted to keep it, although gawd knows what that would have done for his pensioner street cred.
Jarlath was also a very happy camper, which extended to mad-cap camper van conversion plans. Another obsession of his was checking my tyres, oil and water, and would shout in horror at my lacking car maintenance, and general disinterest in motors. The thrill he got from being a petrol head and driving, was lost on me.
Recently I was delighted that he got to take his beloved wife and daughters back to our mother’s birth place in the west of Ireland. I can only imagine what that meant to him after staying away for so long. To me, it is the most magical place in the world.
The legend of where the name Jarlath comes from might go some way to explain Jar’s car thing:
In the province of Connacht, in Western Ireland, within the County of Galway, a 6th century Abbot sent out his monk, Jarlath, to cure his wanderlust. "Go, and wherever your chariot wheel breaks, there shall be the site of your new monastery".
Less than 5 miles out, at Tuam, the chariot wheel broke; Jarlath the Monk built a Monastery, and the town of Tuam grew up around it. Today the broken chariot wheel remains the heraldic symbol there. 100 years ago our Pa was born in Tuam (before the Irish Free State was established).
Tomorrow I join my siblings, family and friends to accompany Jar on his final journey.
Rest in peace brother