Sounds of a life

As I wrote about some of Patrick’s experiences in the Great War, I started to think about the sounds that would have been familiar to him in a time of peace.
The railway came to Roscommon in 1860. If you had not previously seen any form of transport larger, or faster, than a horse drawn cart, then a steam locomotive must have been an amazing sight. By the late 1880s, as Patrick was growing up, the sound of a train would have become quite familiar to adults. I can’t help thinking that it would have been attractive to a young boy. He would have been told to stay away from the line.

The water tank at Roscommon Station: an essential part of the infrastructure in the time of steam.

His early years would certainly have been quieter than life today. Having said that, I have a small insight due to the effects of a Covid-19 enforced lockdown. With very few cars on the roads, and almost no planes in the skies, life in England in 2020 has become more peaceful. We wake up to the sound of birds singing. At some point the neighbour’s dog makes a contribution. We don’t have the sound of chickens, goats or horses’ hooves. But life today (June 2020) is certainly quieter than it was three months ago.
On army duty in India, Patrick would have experienced a cacophony of alien sounds. Cows, monkeys, and lots of shouting, both from the natives and the Sergeant Major. Back in Dewsbury in 1911, there would have been more steam whistles. This time, the sound would have been coming from factories marking the beginning and end of shifts. As the workers streamed in or out of the factory gates, there would have been the sound of hobnailed boots. This brings the story full cycle back to his time in the Great War.