My children and grandchildren have many questions about my life, and
hopefully this book will give them some of the answers. I wish I had
been smart enough to have asked my dad these same questions before he
died. There are, of course, certain things in life that people never
forget, I’m sure most people know exactly where they were, what they
were doing, and how they reacted when they heard that John F. Kennedy
was shot. Throughout my lifetime, I know the time, what I was wearing,
and how I felt as I left home for America. At the airport in Ireland, I
watched the tears run down my mom and dad’s faces and onto their
clothes. The hardest part of that entire good-bye was the simple
handshake. We did not hug back then, and I wish I could go back to that
day now that I have had an education on how to hug people, taught to me
by my wonderful children. I would give my dad and my mom one of the
greatest hugs they ever got, and I’m sure that they would appreciate
it. Think of all the tears shed by the Irish people, when they said
good-bye to their sons and daughters who were leaving for the land on
the other side of the world. Their last words to them, " Arra, we might
never see you again. Always keep God by your side, go to church and
confessions often, trust God, and He will keep you safe.” After I
arrived at Idlewild Airport, now John F. Kennedy airport. I really gave
thought to the fact that I might never see my mom and dad again. That is
when my tears really started. I learned my way through the streets and
avenues of New York. I worked at several jobs. I got fired from some, I
quit others, but the result was the best education I could get and made
a man out of me. I call it the college of hard knocks. I felt I was in a
world in which I had no future. Keep in mind I was young. I had no
sense. I had no responsibilities, and I sure as hell had no money. I
left the County of Galway and the beautiful rolling hills of Connemara,
where the grass grew between the rocks, and it seemed as though the
rocks were growing higher than the vegetables. Now I was surrounded by
concrete and steel in the middle of New York City. I was in my early
twenties when I started to dream about writing a book, and started
jotting down my
I found the years flew by, and I realized I was not in my twenties
anymore. One day as I was praying, a shiver went down my back. I
realized I was sixty-four years old, and I remembered how my dad died at
the young age of sixty-five. I thought that would be my last year
living, so I jumped the gun. I pulled out all the notes I had written on
pieces of paper, some written on napkins and others on the back of
cigarette packs. As I looked over my notes, I panicked. Do I put the
older notes first or last in the book? Will I die before I finish this
book? My hand writing is not the best. My spelling is faulty, and my
punctuation is impossible. Writing is easy for me, but knowing what
order to put the words in is not so easy. I am very good at putting
jigsaw puzzles together, but looking over my life spread out on a table
as if it were a jigsaw puzzle, all I could see were pieces scattered.
So, to put them in the right place in the book, I called upon the
editorial assistance of my professorial friend James Magee.
Everyone has had difficulties throughout life, and has handled difficult
situations in different ways. Here is how I dealt with some of the
difficulties in my life. I am hoping it might help someone realize that
all is not over when you lose your mom, dad, brother, sister,
sweetheart, to natural death or through tragedy. Though the roads I
traveled got very rough at times, I did not quit. When I was at the very
bottom and thinking, I was all alone, I would hold out my hand and ask
God to help me to the next bend in the road. Inevitably, when I got
there, I could see a straight road for a short distance.
I believe one should never give up. If you fall in a hole, do your best
to get out of it. Sometimes the hole you fall into was one dug by
yourself, whether or not intentionally. Make as many friends as you can
along the way, because you will need their support when things get
rough. One of these friends may be holding out a hand to help pull you
back on to the right track, which can be very hard under your own power.
In fact, you cannot do it alone. My dad was an alcoholic. He had a one
liner which I heard him repeat many times to others with addictions.
“It’s easy to start and so damn hard to stop. Don't be afraid or too
proud to reach out your hand for help even in the fog. There is another
hand searching to pull you back on track.”
I worked hard, got married, was drafted during the Vietnam War, was
fired from a few jobs, had kids, and had a happy life. My wife, my
sweetheart, my best friend, and the mother of my five beautiful children
Mary (McCarthy) Monahan was always in my corner. We raised and educated
five children. Everything was going so well, we could not be happier.
Mary was from the County Limerick. I adored her, the love of my life. We
were both beaming with happiness, and thanked God daily for the
blessings we had.
We thought only other people got sick and had tragedies in their lives.
We never thought this could ever happen to us. Who were we kidding? One
day, it came to our house, and all the happiness was swept away in a
flash. My life was changed one December night when the mother of my
children smiled at me as we held hands. She said, “Tommy Monahan, you
are a young man. I want you to find a nice girl, get married, and
don’t feel guilty.” She then closed her beautiful big blue eyes, and
died a short time later.
The caring, the education, and the support the people from that small
town of Oughteard on the West Coast of Ireland in the County of Galway
have given to me throughout my lifetime have guided me through hazardous
times. God used it all to write straight with crooked lines. So read on.
Excerpted from "From Galway to New York" by Mr Thomas J. Monahan Sr.. Copyright © 2013 by Mr Thomas J. Monahan Sr.. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.