Uncle Raymond Carroll

  My Uncle Raymond was a jack-of-all-trades. He could be called upon by his brothers and sisters to paint, paper, clear drains, in fact anything that needed to be done about the house he was their man. For years we believed him when he said that he was teaching the pups to swim whenever our bitch Toby gave birth to a litter.

We figured that he was not a very good instructor because the pups invariable drowned. When the cat had kittens and Raymond appeared we knew he would ‘disappear’ them. We believed him to be a magician. He was also great at Christmas for wringing the chickens necks and plucking same. At that time during the 40s and 50s turkeys were an unheard of luxury. But I believe that his greatest claim to fame took place in 1961. That was the year his brother Francis Carroll was consecrated Bishop of Sosopolis and Vicar Apostolic of Monrovia, Liberia by His Holiness Pope John XX111.

         A reception was held by the Council to honour the newly appointed Bishop. He was the first Newry man to have received such an honour from the Pope. People from all walks of life and from all shades of political opinions were at the reception. Among those of course, was his very proud family.

        Sometime during the reception a lady came over to the Carroll family. She was the wife of some shop owner in the town and like some of her then middle-class ilk she didn’t like to see common people getting all this glory so she came out with this put-down statement:

  Your father was a docker, wasnt he? It must have been very hard putting your brother through college with so many in the family especially on a dockers wage.

What do you do for a living?’

Now that was like a red rag to a bull as far as the Carrolls were concerned.

So to put her in her place they exaggerated their positions.

Willie became the owner of a New York railway company. Jim became the owner of six accountancy companies. Tony became the chief engineer of Duponts in Derry (which was true) but he added, I operate out of Chicago and travel the world. Paddy became a master craftsman. Michael became chief accountant of an insurance company.

Then it came to Raymonds turn.  He always told it as it was.

I work in the Council Cleansing Department.

Oh! And what do you do there?  Are you head of it?  she inquired.

I sweep the streets. was his reply. She was somewhat taken aback. Then, recovering, she went on,

‘But the others have all have all done so well for themselves!!  Your brother Francis is even a Bishop.

Have you no ambition?

Uncle Raymond took a sip from his glass of lemonade before he replied.

Well of course I have!!!

Why, one day I hope to get a job on the bin lorry.

She had no reply!

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