MARIA

maria

June 10th 2011. That was one of those days you never want to see. It was the day our Maria left us after along battle with cancer. To say she is much missed doesn’t come close. Along with what she meant to her family and friends, she was the very heart of Geoffs Bar in Waterford city for over a quarter of a century and Geoffs was at the heart of many of our lives. Now the heart has gone. 

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GEOFFS 1991

She knew this bar inside and out, scrubbed its floors, rolled cigarettes on its counters, stopped to chat in Protestants corner, served tea (millions of mugs to me alone-thank you), food, beer, smiles (that lovely smile), help, advice and fond-or not-so-fond if you were not in her good books-invective over the deep-grained, wooden counters to the hundreds, even thousands of us who were lucky enough to be a part of her extended family but who were bold enough not to eat their salad…

 

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I used to sit with a mug of tea and draw…and draw….and draw. I wasn’t, to my regret, very good at people so there are no drawings of Maria (I did attempt John Fitz, our other treasure) but she was always there so I think in one way or another she is here, in all of these pictures. She used to simultaneously berate and encourage  me.

“If I had your talent girl I’d be long gone out of here.”

But I think we are glad she stayed. I think she was too.

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I guess I wasn’t close to Maria in the sense I didn’t spend a lot of time with her. She had her gang, her close friends, her good friends, who were with her until the end. But it would also feel odd for me to say we weren’t friends. Maria was more like family to most of us I suppose, always there, a rare constant,  her sunny, toothy smile as she put a tea on the counter before I had barely even walked in the door of Geoffs was a given.

Once on a crowded Saturday night, desperate for a drink to drown some awful and ridiculous calamity, I stood in the crush at the bar, miserably clutching a Southern Comfort when from the middle of the mayhem a hand appeared from over the counter, the back of it brushing my cheek even as the other hand was pulling a pint.

“Are you alright girl?”

Maria was…there.

GEOFFS

GEOFFS

At least half of Waterford turned up at the church to say goodbye to Maria (and sure the other half aren’t worth bothering with). She organised the service herself in the week before she died, the pain pushed aside by her powerful will to shoulder all burdens, her no nonsense attitude, her aversion to wallowing-she never had time for that shite. She kept moving forward. Her only concern to the very last was in making sure everyone else was OK.

She still is, and always will be, terribly missed by those who were lucky enough to know her. And she is an absence in the lives of those who have come after, who never knew her, whether they know it or not. But we know. There was only one Maria Gaffney.

Thinking of you today girl.

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toilet doot

YEATS’ STOLEN CHILD, GEOFFS.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand.

For the world’s more full of weeping

than you can understand.

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29 responses to “MARIA

  1. A lovely piece which describes the friend so many people sorely miss. Rest on Maria, one of life’s true gems.

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    • Thanks Momshieb. It is good to know that friends can live on in this way, continuing to touch others so in a way they are still with us. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment:)

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  2. I had the great pleasure of working with Maria in Geoffs while i studied in Waterford. She was beyond good to me. Maria and Geoffs played a huge part in my love for Waterford City, they were both very good to me. She was always asking how i was doing, and even made me cakes when i reached a deadline.. !! She would also great me with many endearing and not so endearing phrases..:) She was the best and i still can not belive it. I could go on but i will keep it short and sweet…
    Mary

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    • Mary, great to hear from you. If we all wrote about Maria that would such a treasure trove. I had forgotten her skill with cakes too, thanks for reminding us. She really was a star and on some levels, many levels I find it impossible to believe she is gone too. Thanks for reading and commenting:)
      Clare

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  3. Thanks Clare,
    For reminding us of the pillar Maria was. She often pops into my head with some advice or other, she was like a big sis to me, really get the family connection your talking about. Those years in Geoffs are always with me and I feel so lucky to have spent them under Marias wing. Thanks Clare for sharing your pics and thoughts. My thoughts are with Maria’s family and many friends now one year on.

    Derek

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    • Derek Corcoran, how the hell are ya?:)Yes she was one of the best and great to hear other peoples thought so thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Hope you’re well me dear:)x

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  4. Ah Clare have been out of touch for a while and just found this piece about the gorgeous Maria…I could cry!! Shes been in my mind all month and to open your blog and see her face there in front of me has been so fantastic and sad all at the same time…I still can’t believe she’s gone and like Derek and so many others I hear her advice all the time and her laugh still rings in my ears everytime I think of her…bloody hell life is shite at times. But I had the privilege to work with Maria and had the best time with her for many years and loved spending time and working with her. I wish she was still here and in some ways she still is when I hear Nick Cave and Harry Connig and remember how much she loved listening to them…Geoffs & Maria will always be one and the same! Miss you my friend xx

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    • Thanks Catherine, I love to hear other people on Maria. I have my own memories but the people who were close and spent time by her side have so many more. What a gal and yes, what shite life is. But… she left a lot of good feeling behind. Long live Maria.xxx

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