The Father Ted Night on Channel 4 over ‘The Christmas’ was a great treat. What a pity though, that we didn’t hear from Pauline McLynn but apparently she doesn’t like being identified with Mrs. Doyle anymore and so declined to take part. Fair enough, but she was missed.
Mrs. Doyle was a huge element in the success of Father Ted. Her caricature portrayal of the archetypal Priests Housekeeper was hilarious. Along with proffering endless cups of tea to the priests she also demanded that all visitors to the Parochial House took a cuppa too, with her famous “go on, go on, go on. You will, you will, you will”. What I found especially hilarious was the way Mrs Doyle also repaired the roof and undertook all manner of DIY tasks in the house, often coming a cropper in the process.
This year will mark the 10th anniversary of my ‘retiring’ from the world of work, where I was PRO for a national charity to become a… well I don’t know what I became… a housewife (but I married a man not a house), homemaker (but I’m not a builder), stay-at-home mom (but I do a lot more than stay at home) after 22 years in the workforce I walked away to embrace my new job description which was not that unlike Mrs Doyle’s. After years of pretending that we shared the domestic chores equally, I took on all tasks relating to the home and children (with the exception of repairing the roof). He confined his energy to ‘bringing home the bacon.’ This brought a definite sense of relief for both of us. No more rows about whose job was the more important and therefore who should take time off when one of the children were sick. No more ‘contracts’ about housework and the weekly shopping. Oh no. Now our roles were clearly defined and very traditional. We both felt very much that we were doing the right thing and generally still do.
I take my role as a homemaker/housewife/stay at home mom, just as seriously as any of the other jobs I have had over the years. I work hard. Unlike any of my former jobs, this one comes with no salary (now I share his), no status, limited perks and little thanks. Like my previous jobs, there are some times that are far busier than others.
In my last job (as PRO for a national charity), my busiest time was in March and April in the lead up to our national fundraising day. By the time the day itself arrived I was exhausted and so always arranged for time off immediately afterwards. Nowadays, my busiest time is in the lead up to Christmas. Weeks of running about with lists in my head culminates in cooking the big dinner for eight on the day itself. And of course I am not alone. There are many thousands of us, mostly women who have done likewise. How wise therefore were our grandmothers and great grandmothers who decided that the official last day of Christmas should also mark ‘Nollaig na mBan’ or Women’s Christmas. This was traditionally a day when the men waited on the women who had worked so hard over Christmas.
I am delighted that this old custom is seeing something of a revival recently with groups of women gathering on January 6th for a meal out or a coffee in the morning. I hope to honour my inner Mrs Doyle and my maternal lineage by gathering some of my own female friends on Thursday for a chat and a cuppa. I shall send them a text message which will end with the immortal words “go on, go on, go on, you will, you will, you will.”
Barbara Scully is a writer, Reiki therapist and full-time mother to 3 daughters who range in age from 23 to 10 years. She is also slave to four cats and master of one not very bright dog. She is a regular contributor to East Coast FM’s Morning Programme and is on Twitter: @aurora111