Pictured above is a man well known and remembered by the people from my town of Dundalk. He was a homeless man from Australia. Nobody knows exactly what attracted him to the town of Dundalk where he had no ancestral or familial ties to. There is much to say about him and his eccentric character but at the young age of 43 he died on the 15th October 1986.
I recall someone posting up his picture on the Dundalk social media group along with a dissertation of his history. I read his story and decided to pen him into my book of Holy souls. The Book of Holy Souls is a diary I keep in which I write the names of all the deceased of my ancestors going as far back as the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. I also keep the names of those deceased who are known and unknown to me.
If I see in my social media feed the death of someone I scribble them in or if someone else asks or mentions to me a deceased person. I simply take it that the Lord wants it and they’re reaching out for prayer. When I saw Barry’s picture of his tombstone being posted, I inquired where it was so I could go pray but nobody answered the request.
I thought to myself that when I next visited the graveyard I would make it a point to visit him. However, with no guidance and in a sea of 25,000 people, I don’t think that would have ever been possible. Often I go to the graveyard at special times of the year and over Easter I visited the graves of my grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins. One set of people I could not find was my godparents. I called my Dad to ask for assistance as he knows where they are. He tried guiding me and I was in the right place but just couldn’t find the grave. It was a brown tombstone I was after so that’s all I looked for.
In the end, with the snow beating down and the very chilly wind getting to into the bone, even through the seams of my wooly hat, I gave up. I came home and decided it wasn’t the right time. Then this morning I felt another urge to go again because I’m not the type to give up so easily. This time I called my Dad who confirmed I was in the right place and probably missed a row or two of graves.
I braved the cold wintry weather again unusual for this time of year, and for some reason the wind today was much chillier than yesterdays. Armed with my bottle of Easter Holy Water obtained from my village Church I walked to the bottom of the plot. Walking up a bit I stopped, looked to my left and randomly decided, “I’ll go down this isle and take it from here. I was looking for a brown tombstone so wasn’t really looking at all the graves.
Then, towards the end of the row I looked to my left and there was the grave of one Barry Evans, the man I wanted to see but thought I’d never find in such a sea of graves. I was so shocked and I took out my very freshly unopened bottle of Holy Water. He would be the first to receive a sprinkle and so I splashed the Holy water at his grave in three big strokes. “I bless you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. I followed it by a personal prayer for mercy upon his soul and to relieve him of his pains in purgatory assuming that was where he’d be.
I placed my hand on his tomb and prayed one Lords Prayer, Hail Mary and Glory be. When I did this the Sun broke out from the clouds and shone hard on me and the grave and it felt so warm. My eyes watered with such sorrow and grief that was mingled with Joy and love. It was an amazing experience and couldn’t believe it because I never knew him so why do I grieve? I asked him to pray for me, let him know that although his soul is safe, mine is always in danger of being lost.
After this I took another stroll and my eyes landed on the soul of a man named John. His picture was on the grave and I immediately recognized him. He was the man who used to work with my Dad in the truck. Every time my father came to pick me up at school John would be sitting there with him.
I couldn’t believe it so I ended up saying a prayer for him. Then I took another walk and came across an old friends grandparents and so prayed for them as well. Then I came across a grave of a young man who died at the age of 29. On his grave was inscribed the words, “Fear of Death is Fear of Life”. I was impressed and so gave him some Holy Water and prayed for him.
In the end, I went up and down every row but did not find the grave of my godparents. I was yet again going away empty handed. My mother explained that my father will take me to the plot when he next gets a day free. Sitting in the car it dawned upon me how the Will of God works. Sometimes it works very different to our own Will. I had willed to go out and find the grave of my godparents, but the Lord had different plans and took my journey in a whole new direction.
Good things come to those who wait, and I know I’ll find their grave eventually. But I did not come away from the graveyard sad because I had come across the people God wanted me to come across and I’m only ever to happy to do His Will. It was clear that Barry Evans had guided me to his grave after the weeks of my failed promises to visit. On my way back to the car I felt drawn to yet another plot of graves and the first grave I approached was that of Wee Georgie. He died in 1968 and was a famous character in the town reputed to be 111 years old.
He pulled his little wooden cart around the town and lived a very frugal existence. My father knew him, telling me he often gathered around him with his friends to be entertained by him.
It was obvious Georgie wanted a word with me too and guided me to his grave. Honestly, out of the thousands of Graves, I find these two extraordinary men among others I can’t believe it. I don’t know why they’d want a sinful person like me anywhere near them, but I guess they’re looking for prayer. After all the greatest disservice you can do to a Holy soul is to do up their tomb and put a nice flower on it. This may be a nice gesture, but what they really need is prayer and a good drink of Holy water. I guess that’s what they were after and I was only too delighted to give it to them.