‘I’ve had the blanket since I was a boy over 60 years ago’

Family Fortunes: Known as ‘Igor’s blanket’ it has travelled with me and is now on my bed

Igor’s blanket: it’s been with him for over 60 years

Igor’s blanket: it’s been with him for over 60 years

 

It was when I was a boy in Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow, more than 60 years ago that I first recall having a dark-greenish checked blanket on my bed: it was known then as Igor’s blanket.

It was neatly darned in places where I assumed moths had once consumed some of the wool. The tassels at each end, many missing now, have definitely seen better days. It lies on my bed here in Greystones, having accompanied me to our cottage near Tinahely in 1950, then to Spéracèdes in France when I was a 10-year-old, then back to our various homes in the UK.

I am not conscious of its continuous company over many decades, but it is here now, and I remember it clearly in Ireland all those years ago. I suppose one’s belongings drift along beside one as one moves through life, some falling by the way, others attached more firmly.

My father told me years ago that the blanket had belonged to my grandfather, Maj Roy Cusack – James Robert Rowland Cusack – of Drumnigh, Portmarnock, and president of the Royal Irish Automobile Club in the 1930s.

My father told me years ago that the blanket had belonged to my grandfather, Maj Roy Cusack, pictured here driving this car
My father told me years ago that the blanket had belonged to my grandfather, Maj Roy Cusack, pictured here driving this car

He was the younger brother of another major, Maj Ralph Smith Oliver Cusack, the owner of Abbeville with its many acres, later to be the home of Charlie Haughey. Rather alarmingly, I was told, the blanket had once been used to ferry injured people from a crashed Zeppelin in the first World War.

I have just recently been given this photograph of my grandfather, whom I never met, as he died before I was born. Here he is driving a Vauxhall Army Staff car with my future father, Ralph (Desmond Athanasius Cusack), about six years old beside him, and in the back seat my grandmother Eileen, sitting next to ‘Aunt VI’, a wonderful painter of wildflowers, and who I knew well in my youth.

I wonder if his blanket was somewhere in that car? Maybe it was not moths that made those repaired holes but gnawing rats in the trenches, or even shrapnel from German shells? Strangely, today, for the first time, I noticed a name carefully sown in woollen thread at the top right-hand corner: JR Cusack and underneath an L in yellow: what this L stands for I do not know.

Was there an L dormitory where the regimental majors slept during that distant war? The blanket is still here and the questions remain.

We would love to receive your family memories, anecdotes, traditions, mishaps and triumphs. Email 400 words and a relevant photograph to familyfortunes@irishtimes.com. A fee will be paid

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.