Here’s a picture of my grandfather Patrick Toner, working as a labourer, probably sometime in the 40s. He passed away suddenly when my father was only 11, so I never got to meet him, and my father barely knew him. With eleven children in a tiny house on Pates Lane in Coleraine, I can’t begin to imagine how hard he must have worked to keep food on the table. Or how hard Mary Toner must have worked after he died… There was a family story that early on, shortly after the first two children were born, he and Mary and the children moved to Greenock in Scotland, where he worked in the sugar mills there, but they all came home after one of the children developed a respiratory condition – he and his wife were warned that the sooty air would have killed her for sure. So he came home to Coleraine, to work in the fields and on the farms and on the roads, in all kinds of weather. My father remembered that he would come home every evening, wash himself in a tin bath in the back yard, rub Snowfire ointment on his hands and sit by the fire with a newspaper. And then he was suddenly gone. My travels took me to Greenock last year, and went to the local library to look him up in the postal records, but there were gaps along the shelf, years of the records were missing, and his name was nowhere to be found. The registrar suggested I try the public records office in Glasgow. Next time I’m there, I might just do that – I seem to have a yearning to see his name, written down somewhere.
Copies of the new album Ink are available from the STORE page at this website.
The album will be officially launched at the Lyric Theatre on Sunday evening, April 23rd, in a concert that will feature special guests Ciaran Lavery, Eilidh Patterson and John McCullough. Click HERE to be directed to the ticket sales page at the Lyric Theatre website.