Dad’s Home

Andersonstown, Belfast, N. Ireland

04.06.2002 16:45 GMT 0:00

I spent a couple of hours wandering around town with Uncle Sean this afternoon. He gave me another tour of hotspots from The Troubles. I was able to take a number of pictures that have come out rather well. I haven’t yet had time to do a complete write up, though. I’ll be getting to that in the next couple of days.

While we were touring, one of the primary objectives was to see the house where my father was born. There was also an additional house that my grandparents own prior to moving to the States.

Apparently, there was a bit of confusion in the recollection of my dad’s birth around here. It was thought that he was born at 21 Andersonstown Crescent. Select the image to see a larger version of the image.

When I spoke with Dad late last night, he informed me that he was born on Springfield Road in my great grandmother’s house. Unfortunately, as I also learned yesterday, that home was destroyed quite recently to make way for a new road. I’m terribly disappointed, as I’m certain Dad is too.

This was one of the few objectives I actually had in coming to Ireland. Sorry, Dad. I delayed the trip for too many years.

On the upside, I was able to take a small tour of 52 Gransha Park, the last house owned by my grandparents before they moved to the States. I knocked on the door and introduced myself to a woman named Bileney Shiels. I said that my father had lived here nearly 50 years ago and would she mind if I took a few photos of the outside of the house.

“Wha’ was yer’ name agin?”

“Aidan. Aidan Owens.”

“From Denis Owens?” she inquired.

“Why, yeah, that’s my grandad.”

“W’ya like te’ come inside and take yer’ pitchers?”

Apparently, Bileney is the 3rd owner of the house since Granny and Grandad left. She and her sister moved in somewhere around 1964 with their parents. Since then, their parents have passed and the two still maintain the house. It’s very quaint and clean. There has been considerable modernization to the kitchen and patio, even the bathrooms. I’ve got a few photos from inside, though they didn’t turn out very well. The carpets and wall coverings look like they might have been installed somewhere around the late 60’s or early 70’s with one important detail to note: they look brand new. The house has not aged a day as far as I can tell.

Bileney’s sister met my uncle a few years ago when he visited the house. I believe that Aunt Pauline was with him. That’s how the sisters knew about grandad. Amazing memory, I have to admit.

Take a look from the front. That’s Bileney. She was so charming, as was her sister. Everyone stepped outside to help the local priest find his way around the neighborhood for collections for the poor. He was lost, I guess. It seems so cliche, but its true.

I’m constantly surprised by how hospitable most of the older generation has been towards me. The younger crowd, well, that’s another story. Everyone really has been charming.

So, a bit of defeat for me on this round. Dad’s birthplace is gone. I did, however, see a few houses where he lived prior to moving to the U.S. Fair enough, but I’m still disappointed.

More than anything else, I’m sorry, Dad.