Gone but not forgotten

A tribute to the Lanes of Knockadangan, hosts in the last rambling house of its time

Written by Vincent Pierse

A visit here was a tonic. The eclectic mix of characters generated great energy and sparked interesting and varied conversation. One particular night I sat with a doctor, blacksmith, farmer, detective sergeant, chimney sweep, butcher, judge, gravedigger, a couple of off-duty guards and a garage owner

The Irish have always loved to ramble; we are famous for our gallivanting. When the day’s work is done and the night falls, many of us love to roam out in search of good company and social interaction, and in this ‘new normal’, it has never been more desired.

  For me, the lure of the rambling house has always been strong. As a young boy growing up in Kerry, I loved the nightly discourse of how a match was won or lost, and the adult speculations on the latest general elections. The last rambling house I knew of in Roscommon belonged to the Lane family in Tremane, and was occupied by Hannah and her two brothers, Tom and Michael John.

Hannah was renowned for her baking, and she swept the boards with her soda cakes and tarts at the agricultural shows around Roscommon. She busied herself each morning baking for her nightly visitors. She was a devoted singer with the church choir, and her strong voice frequently led the rosary.

Tom and Michael John were keen hurlers in their youth. Their passion for the game was tangible, and they generously allowed the local hurling team to train in a field near their house. That field now belongs to Tremane Hurling club, which Michael John was founding member of. In 1977, Tremane won a Connacht Hurling title, beating Kiltomer of Galway – a great achievement for a small rural club. The brothers also had a tremendous love of horses; Micheal John was well known at the horse shows, where he was a very popular judge. Tom was also  an accomplished ploughman, and these loyal brothers kept their farm in great shape. But it was their home that marvelled me, for it was seldom without a visitor.

Each night, visitors from all walks of life descended on Lanes to join in the warmth and hilarity. A visit here was a tonic. The eclectic mix of characters generated great energy and sparked interesting and varied conversation. One particular night I sat with a doctor, blacksmith, farmer, detective sergeant, chimney sweep, butcher, judge, gravedigger, a couple of off-duty guards and a garage owner. Ideas were hatched, friendships forged and spurious hearsays hushed: “Arragh, will you go away out of that, will you have another dropeen of tay?”

Hannah was the ultimate hostess. Her kind and generous hospitable nature showed care and love at every opportunity. As the cards were dealt out, Hannah kept the teacups topped up as she doled out hefty slices of her celebrated tarts. There was always plenty.

The trio lived a simple but full life, living off the land, bolstered by the warmth of many friendships and sustained by their strong faith. They were rare characters that are sadly missed. Hannah left her brothers in 2003, and not long after her, they left their family home to live in the Sacred Heart Home. Michael John left us in March 2004, and Tom joined them in August 2007. They are gone but not forgotten.

I regularly recollect with fond affection the impact that the Lanes had on all who met them. True beauty is a warm heart, a kind soul and an attentive ear. These true friends are never truly gone, but live on in our hearts, as we remember their best qualities.

May their gentle souls rest in peace.