Apparently 75% of Irish people believe that priests should be allowed to marry,
and Father Comisky is about to be disciplined for wanting debate on the issue.
And a German tourist was mugged last night in Temple Bar. Bet it was that stupid
bastard on the bus back from Belfast who kept on and on about the "British
atrocities against the Germans". If it was him, he deserved it. We won,
so we get to write the history.
Just came across a
poem by Eileen O'Connell, written
in 1773, on the death of her second husband after he refused to sell a horse
for £5, which, as a Catholic, he was obliged to do under the Penal Code.
that bright spring day
how your hair with its band
of gold became you,
your silver-hilted sword
your manly right hand
your horse on her mettle
and foes around you
cowed by your air;
for when you rode by
on your white-nosed mare
the english lowered
their heads before you
not out of love for you
but hate and fear
for, sweetheart of my soul,
the english killed you
Organizing the contact-sheets for the negatives. Phonecalls, given a quote of
£200. Then to Rank Xerox, between Kildare and Dawson, wearing my museum
badge, feeling important, explain what's needed. No problem. 71p per adhesive
sheet, £12.03 total. Somebody named Caroline will be doing the cutting
and sticking and pasting. She'll be a basket case by the end of the week. And,
Ned's writing me a reference that I can present to the Aliens Office to extend
the stay beyond the October date they randomly set. Ned mentioned a friend who'd
been 'mixing with undesirables' and being given a hard time for it. Jaysus,
I knew I shouldn't have been so enthusiastic about queuing up to meet Gerry
Adams, let alone shaking his hand, the 8"x10" glossies are probably
in my file down at the Office by now.
I meet Caroline. She looks like the type that'd slag me in the street, but here,
I just explain what everything is, and what needs to be done, and everything's
The session last
night was okay, but basically by the numbers, just entertaining the tourists,
the Norwegians and the Swiss and the man from Brittany. But John suggested that
Louisburgh was a great place to visit if we're travelling west. In particular,
a pillarbox, from which it's possible to nearly see the entirety of the West
... the island is notable in legend as the home of the famous, or infamous,
Roith, the Servant of the Wheel, who is said to have beheaded
John the Baptist."
And while we're in Valencia, there's a village called Cool, one of two in Ireland.
'Tinnies' is said to be where Mogh Roith lived and to be named for the fires
he used to light.
(Discovering Kerry, p.272)
St Stephens Green
And, today's entertainment is the Artane Boys Band, who, their conductor has
just told us, are a 'legend' in Irish music, and who are, at the moment, destroying
'La Paloma Blanca'. They have natty blue uniforms with red trim and yellow bits.
It looks like something that was on an INXS record cover. Soon, they're apparently
going to display their 'formidable' formation marching routines. And, apparently,
it's Brian Mulvaney's first gig with the band, he's down the back on trombone.
Onya Brian, what a guy, what a legend.
And the legends have just done their formation marching around the St Stephens
Green rose garden, and little Brian Mulvaney has a slight keeping-in-step problem.
Heading back from Bewleys in Grafton Street, and there's a white stretch limo
in the Christchurch carpark. Probably Bono or Liam Neeson getting their piece
of haddock and chips from Leo Burdock's. Sheryl Crow apparently bought hers
There's a predicted top of 30 degrees today. Jaysus, the Irish will be dropping
like flies. Meanwhile, Westropp is somewhere on Achill Island, wandering from
promontory fort to promontory fort.
Down Duke Street,
passing tourists busily consulting their maps of Dublin, entire families relying
on confused fathers, who cannot figure out which way Grafton Street is because
they cannot hold a map the right way round. And what was once the Bailey is
now a deep hole in the ground.
C has borrowed a book from the library, A Night In The Catacombs, by David M
Kiely, and it has this to say on the back cover:
"They were eight in number, and mighty were their voices
when rung. When the wind from the south was right, their music spread across
Bull Alley, out over the city wall; out over the rooftops of Hoey's Court, the
Dean's birthplace in the shadow of the Castle; down Cork Hill and out over Smock
Alley; over the waters of the Liffey, to be caught by the ears of the Cistercian
monks of St Mary's Abbey, to remind them that Protestantism still held the high
ground in this country."
Aliens Office. Ticket 88, and they're up to 86. Obviously some others have felt
the same as we have as 'Down With Ireland' has been scrawled on the grey table,
along with a long screed in Arabic, which I think translates into something
like why does the Aliens Office start demanding things they've previously told
people they don't need. Form P26/X, marriage certificates in triplicate, drivers
licenses in quadruplicate, the certificate I got from the Rechabites Association
in Grade 6, the Boy Scout certificate for being a Sixer in Cubs, my birth certificate
- the original, and preferably signed by the doctor who delivered me and the
nurse who assisted; every bank account ever opened anywhere; and the specific
documentation demanding to know the specific reasons for why you'd want to stay
in this country; and why you took the 123 to Griffith Avenue from Lord Edward
Street rather than the 16A from College Green; and, dear me, we do seem to have
this 8"x10" glossy of you with Gerry Adams; and another one of you
misdirecting those aged American tourists, appears they ended up in Dolphin's
Barn rather than the Powerscourt Arcade; and just why was that trip to Belfast
undertaken last week, and please explain the purchase of the R-rated version
of The Crow for your 16 year old son; and, dear me, it does seem that both Tommy
and John from the Auld Dubliner are on the 'undesirables' list; and despite
our hundred thousand welcomes we really wish you'd just piss off.
The number's clicked to 87.
Wondering what would happen if we just ignored the 4th of October and stayed
here anyway, quietly leading our little lives. Would they track us down somehow,
hunt us out, storm Tailors Court, take us to the airport, bound and gagged maybe,
I wonder if they use sniffer dogs, or cans of mace, SWAT teams abseiling from
the Tailors Court roof garden,
"we know you're in there. Out now," they might yell.
"And a hundred thousand fuck-off's to you," I would have to yell back.
I wonder if we'll get served by the girl with the bad teeth again.
No, we get some guy. Who tells us that getting an extension shouldn't be a problem.
The letter from Ned is cutting through some ice here. Bless him.
National Gallery. In the room with the paintings of Brittany. There's some great
Like the Connemara Girl, Liam's favourite. A girl barefoot, on a mossy hill,
wearing a maroon shawl, in the background a light blue sea, but grey clouds
descending over a light orange/pink sky. Two goats near her, her grey skirt
sways as she stands, probably blown by the wind, and she holds a small basket
of not flowers, not rushes, not bracken, but some kind of plant. She has brown
hair, and a naive, pretty, face. It's the kind of girl that Liam would like
to accompany him to the movies, to share a Big Mac with.
somehow following the local Tank Girls up Lord Edward Street, after finding
out how much it costs to leave a car at the Christchurch carpark (£12
a day), these girls think it's a great act of rebellion to kick over the carpark
sign. How tough. Must be all bottle fed. Women of Ireland, give up the bottle
bit, and give 'em the tit. They'll be smarter, they'll get their Leaving Certs.
Think I've finally
nailed this. Turning from Bride Street, it's Golden Lane down to the Old Chinaman,
then it becomes Stephen Street Upper until Aungier Street, once you've crossed,
it's Stephen Street Lower, and if you've passed the Mercer Clinic, it's Johnson's
Place, but, on the last bit before Grafton Street, parallel to Dunnes, it's
King Street South.
a bit later
We've collected the car early, and because of the Bank Holiday (whatever that
may be for) we get another two days for free. We're going for a drive.
County Wicklow. The
Meeting of the Waters.
Shannon's having a paddle in it. And I wonder if Tommy did the same, wonder
if he ever took off the shoes and splashed around a bit, somehow I doubt it.
And I doubt the souvenir gift shop was here in Tommy's day, nor were the yobs
sucking back the tubes of Fosters, and I wonder if tourists sat around Tommy,
while he was here, and watched
the boyo compose.
But they couldn't have, as he was in Castle Howard at the time.
Probably never even got his feet wet. Not even a toe.
Somehow managing to find where the dig was, in Ballinagore. You'd never know
it was there.
Chester Beatty's. In Ashford. This
is a great pub, except for the bikie over there by the fireplace. He's wearing
sunglasses inside. Wonder if he thinks it looks cool. He's mistaken.
Tracked down the poster-man this morning, he's been elusive since the billboards
near the Ha'penny Bridge came down. Left at about 8:30, predictably, he wasn't
where he should have been. Window-shopped for a while, the Father Browne photographs,
paintings of little girls doing cutesy things. Virgin Records have a 'home grown'
sale, not sure what's 'home grown' about Paul Weller, thought he was English.
Over the bridge, look in the windows of the Winding Stairs, now with the shop
sign done by the artist who displays his work of wobbly Dublin landmarks on
the railings of Merrion Square, a wobbly Hodges Figgis, a wobbly Ha'penny.
Up Liffey Street.
Nope, the poster-man isn't hiding anywhere, down Abbey Street towards Capel
Street, and some company has spray-canned its new address on the grey shutters,
as 'Caple' Street. But the posters down there are all old, nothing new. Up Jervis
to the Quay, and back over the bridge, decide to give him 'til 9:30. Sit on
some concrete steps, have a cigarette, but move when a panhandling derro looks
like he's lurching my way, move, before I get hassled for the price of a cup
Leave. But what's that just down past the Ormond Centre, a blue van with the
back open. It's the man himself. That damned, elusive posterman. Cross the bridge,
the green one with the sea-horses.
"Hi," he says.
I'm thinking "cut the pleasantness and just gimme what I want," but
say "You've moved from your prime place."
He replies, something. And would I be after a Sharon Shannon poster. Yes. He's
got them, and he hands one over. Brilliant. And it's a good one too, she's wearing
a cap backwards and grinning like a fool. It's great.
Did Jonathan Swift really die falling from the rope attached to the 7th of the
eight bells of St Patricks, who knows, but I have no doubt that they play in
the scale of Eflat. If he didn't, then he should have.
On Tailors Court roofgarden. There's a star. Just the one, but it is a star.
Today I get to do
what should be a highlight. I get to drive up Bride Road. After watching millions
of others do it from our lounge room, I finally get to do it too ... but let
the wild tour begin ...
Ferdia's Ford, on the River Dee, in Ardee. Large rocks span the narrow stream.
This is the place where Cuchullain not only dispatched Ferdia with a mighty
fling of the dreaded Gae Bolga, but also hundreds of others who dared take on
the mere beardless boy. Yep, four days of fighting in that bit of stream there.
So, it's off with the shoes and socks for a bit of a paddle ..
St Mochta's house, guarded by cows.
Found the fake Cuchullain Stone, in Knockbridge, the one the tourists take photographs
from their tour busses from, but the real one's in Rathiddy, about a kilometre
from here, in some farmer's field.
Found the real one, through the gauntlet of cows that guard it. Cloch an fhir
mhóir. And Jim McKenna's done a magnificent job of carving his name into
At the Grave of the Long Woman. She's 51 shoe-lengths long, according to Shannon.
Wondering what she died from, maybe loneliness. It's breathtakingly beautiful
Newry. And I'm illegally parked outside the First Newry Presbyterian Church,
on Sandys Street.
Silent Valley. Heard bird noises as soon as we'd parked the car, so there goes
that particular myth. And interesting signs nailed to trees on the way, like
"6 into 26 won't go", and "I'd rather die on my feet in Ulster
that live on my knees in Ireland". Okay then, get knee pads. And 6 does
go into 26, you just end up with 4.333 (repeating).
And, in the Newcastle Kiddies Playground, opposite the hostel, there's a red
and black kiddie's climbing frame that's shaped like a tank. Just what every
Ulster kiddie needs.
The beach has been taken over by families on their happy holidays, there's Joyland
and Funland and every other type of Land, there's carnival rides, and if you
can toss a baseball into a bucket you can win a prize, there's Irish type souvenirs,
shamrocks on teatowels on linen and t-shirts, and there's kids with ice-cream
and fairy floss all over their mouths. On the beach there's old people and fat
people and kids, I guess whoever doesn't fall into those categories is over
in Joyland, behind the wheel of Virtual Racing, or the Jurassic Park car dodging
dinosaurs, or in the shooting galleries, or playing the pinnies.
At the Percy French pub. Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea
(and, yes, Virginia, they really do), and Come Back Paddy Reilly, Phil the Fluters
Ball, and Are Ye Right There Michael Are Ye Right, while above the bar, for
some reason, are Japanese, American and French flags.
Out the front of the hostel, and, in the gutter, two panda dolls, one with
a pink ribbon scarf, the other with blue. Must've been a suicide pact. And,
over there, Slieve Donard is bathed in a golden light (sounds like a terrible
poetic cliché, but it's true).
Navan Fort, Emain Macha. Sitting on top of the mound. The stories of this place.
Deidre, Conchobor, Cuchulainn and Ferdia, Macha, the cursed Red Branch.
The glimpses of Lough Neagh were not wonderful, but up to Rasharkin. Had to
ask in the Post Office for directions to wherever Glen Bolcain was. They didn't
know, but an old lady in the PO heard what I was after and directed us. Up pass
the school, to the crossroads and left, then right at the next crossroads. Mollings
Road. St Mulling was the one who wrote down Sweeney's story; next crossroad,
kind of expecting a vista of lush beauty, with streams of lapping watercress,
but no, it's a bog. Vast areas of bogland. Any trace of Sweeney was cut, bagged,
and undoubtedly burnt in some old crones' fireplace long ago.
a bit later
Through the Glens of Antrim, to Cushendun. Along the coast, to Menlough Point
and that's Scotland in the distance, the Mull of Kintyre, with mist rolling
in from the sea, my desire is always to be here, and so on. Later to the Giants
Causeway, walking downhill to the causeway itself, and dangling our feet in
the sea. Back, on the bus, to the Visitor Centre, not seriously tempted by any
of the souvenir rubbish.
Dunluce Castle, finding it easily enough, the best bit is the almost 'secret'
passageway connecting the castle and the sea ..
Portrush Hostel. Macools, the place that prides itself on making staying in
Portrush a pleasure. That is, once you've kicked the door open, as you have
to. Another holiday town. More Joylands and Funlands, and every street seems
to be Dunluce Something or Eglington Something Else.
Apparently Bran 'landed' at Moville, on the return voyage from Tir-na--n'Og.
Carrick-a-rede rope bridge
Okay, it's cool. In a rope bridge kind of way.
driving through Londonderry. At least that's what the signs call it on the Northern
Irish side. On the Republic side, it's just Derry.
In a restaurant called The Ubiquitous Chip.
On the other side
of the road there's a barber set up in a caravan. £3.50 for a haircut.
And later, waited my turn in the queue, and had a haircut. Lots off, please.
Snip, cut, talk about Australian soapies, wishing I could fill him in on the
latest developments in Neighbours, then archaeology and the Ceide Fields.
Grainann Aileach, or something like that, don't think I saw two sign posts spelling
the place in the same way anyway.
No one knows what this place was used for. It predates Christianity by a long
shot, even predates the Celts. The stones in the centre may have been an altar,
these steps may have been where people sat, watched, maybe participated in whatever
was happening down there. Maybe sacrifices were made, maybe not. Bulls, animals,
virgins, jelly-snakes. Well, there's a sacrificed jelly-snake at my feet.
south of Raphoe, the Beltane Stone Circle.
a guy on the road if we were still on the right road to the Stone Circle. Not
even his rifle and broken teeth deterred me. Yup, straight on then right. The
VW Combi should have given the game away. Up the path and over the stile.
It's a hippy extravaganza. Heaps of 'em. Leaning against the stones, hugging
the stones, embracing the stones, meditating by the stones, quietly grooving
on the vibes of Beltane. Tie-dye and guitars. Maybe the instruments will be
played later, when the dancing begins, and the fires are lit, and the bonking
in the fields begins. Or maybe they wait until the appropriate date (May Day),
for the wild outdoors-type bonk-fest to begin. Damn, we're too late. But now,
everybody's totally quiet, reverentially quiet, faith-exudingly quiet. Even
the dreadlocked one who pours mouthfuls of water over each stone, an offering
to the gods, then offers mouthfuls to the people nearby. Priorities I guess.
I can never be one of these people, I'm too old and too cynical, but I like
them a lot. They're so naive, so earnest, and so sad.
from Raphoe to Glenties
Totally and absolutely wonderful and awesome and brilliant. Huge vistas, flanked
by mountains, with loughs.
Just find me a stone cottage, with red trim, and I'd live here. Change my name
to Seamus Cuchullain MacCool, buy myself a border collie, name him Blackie,
and have a few sheep sprayed flouro-green.
A walk up and down the town. 9 pubs.
Maybe Australian towns used to be like this.
Friendly. Everybody says "hello" from their doorways.
I like this place. A lot.
C's now in the fifth woollen shop here, and is determined to buy a jumper. We
had the 'tour' in the Triona Woollen Factory, which included the 'scenes of
Donegal', the artist has a colour-by-texta approach, they're all too bright.
No subtlety here.
She's finally decided on the jumper in McNeil's.
Hughies. I love this
pub. Had a drink here in '89, but then it was raining, and a parade was just
finishing which had girlies with accordions and drums. Just love a parade.
There's a old guy at the bar, who's telling some other guy his views on money,
and God, and something like "God didn't buy thet pint." Although I
may have misheard that particular pearl of wisdom. The barmaid has just told
him to go home. He tells her she's a pretty one.
At the next table,
a man, his wife, and their daughter. A beer for him, and orange juices for the
ladies. The daughter does not look happy, covering her mouth with her hand,
covering her legs with her long dress. I'll bet she's pregnant, a bun in the
oven, a snapper on the way, a bundle of joy due. The mother does not look happy
either, tightlipped. The husband, looking bloody miserable, now on his way back
from the bar and filling his face with ham sandwiches, probably to delay having
I think this wee family has lots to talk about. The daughter is not looking
at anybody, just staring off into space. Mum and Dad aren't looking at anybody
Still in Hughes, Killibegs.
We should leave, and give this family some room to resolve their little problem.
Have it, sweetie, call it Sean or Sinéad. It won't be the first Irish
Back in Glenties. Just read, on page 15 of The Irish Sun, that Jerry Garcia's
died. Wonder if he's grateful? And that Paddy Glackin is playing here, in Glenties,
at the Highland Hotel, on Saturday Night. Damn, we'll be gone by then.
Another stroll around the town, passing the nine, maybe ten, pubs. The Central
Cafe, the souvenir section of the video shop, buying licorice straps, pass the
phone boxes, 4 in one and 3 in the other - teenagers probably ringing each other.
The boys throwing someone's bag into the street, the girls who'll see each other
again on Saturday night, apparently, probably at the Paddy Glackin gig.
Yeats wrote Towards Break of Day here, including the lines:
all my childhood counted dear
I to travel far and wide
could not find a thing so dear
.. using 'dear' to rhyme
with 'dear' is pathetic, so
here's some improvements on Yeats' last line :
Liam's Improvement :
that all my childhood counted dear
were I to travel far and wide,
beauty has never been so clear
Shannon's Improvement :
that all my childhood counted dear
were I to travel far and wide,
when all is safe and feel no fear
C's better version :
that all my childhood counted dear
were I to travel far and wide,
and all my childhood spent so near
My version :
that all my childhood counted dear were I to travel far and wide,
next time I'll bring the beer
and out there, on
the Lough, is Innisfree, the island Yeats wrote 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree'
about. Except that he didn't go and live there, keeping bees, as he romantically
thought he would spend the rest of his life doing. Nope, he buggered off to
London instead. Typical.
we did but chuck
rocks into Lough Gill
they hit the bottom and are lying there still
heart out, Willy)
On the top of Maeve's Mound. Shannon's carried her wish rock all the way up and
planted it, and then took a leak on top of the mound. Definite highlight of
the day. Maeve probably pissed on a few graves herself. Seeing how Knockmaa
also lays claim to being Maeve's burial place, Shannon'll just have to pee on
that one too, just to make sure she gets her.
I hope Shannon gets her wish, whatever it was for. Her rock was bloody heavy,
and she carried it all the way up.
Finally found Moytura. Louise, at the Information Office/Real Estate agent place
gave me sheets of information, a detailed map, highlighted in felt tip. "Just
follow the Cromlech Lodge" signs, and gives me more sheets about the Formorians
and the De Danann.
Looks like the De Danann fought the Formorians at Moytura North, then fought
the Fir Bolg at Moytura South. This kind of information should be easier to
find, but maybe there's not too much money to be made with it. The English would.
The English would package this place 'til it bled money. But they won't here,
because such things are the property of the OPW, so it must be boring, bland,
lacking anything remotely resembling imagination, and picked over by archaeologists,
who, by training, must totally disregard the mythological as irrelevant.
I know, I have a degree in it. Ireland would be better served with less archaeologists,
and more Louise's.
photographed the Kesh Mountain, where, apparently, the
Dagda and the Morrigan bonked away one Halloween, and,
apparently, bonk away every New Years Eve. The rumbles in the earth are still
resonate after those ones.
"oh god, oh
god, oh god ..."
At the Ceili. There's
a tiny dance area set aside in the carpark, and the band plays from a flatbed
truck, and it's mostly kids strutting their stuff, surrounded by banks of watching
adults. They know all the dances, "a very special request for the Stack
O'Barley", and the band's away. None of this having to call the dances
stuff. And at the end, "a very special request for an old time waltz".
In the pub. This is brilliant. Photos all over the walls. Just as it should
Wonder who was asking for all those very special requests.
CORRBRI MAQ AMLOITT (son of C, son of A)
of these guys is Westropp himself, in 1898
is organized by the OPW. Thus, by definition, is as boring as all hell. Just
let me close my eyes for minute. Wake me when the slide show's over.
Back in Killala
And the winner of the Killala Busking Competition is about to be announced.
In front of the Festival Office....the judges are the band 'Horizon', whoever
they may be in the wider scheme of things, but
3rd place: Louise
and Loretta and somebody else (the boxes and guitar)
2nd place: Mary Maonlai ...
the tension is mounting
1st place: and the
shield for the 1995 Killala Busking Competition goes to .... waiting for it
... no, we're having a quiet little prayer for Alan Donolly, in whose memory
the shield is awarded ... and the winner is Kieran Crony (the keyboard player).
Personally, I thought he was a little shonky. I reckon Louise and Loretta should
have won it. And the troop of Irish dancers second, and they didn't even get
a place. The result sucks.
Moyne Abbey. Better ruins than most. Tried to get to Rosserk, but the road was
blocked by a truck, who wasn't about to move for anybody.
To every pub in town, anticipating pub grub tea, imagining a heaped plate of
fish and chips, with a mountain of salad from the serve-yourself bar. But no,
too expensive. Tower Bar ? Golden Acres? Nope. End up at Sizzler, where I think
our surly pudgy waitress has probably just had a clip around the ear for smoking
'round the back by the woman I just hassled at the take-away part of this same
"You haven't been served ?"
"I'll get Moira to get your menus."
Moira's yet another
Irish person that needs a kick up the arse.
and a cuppa under the statue of St Patrick.
am Patrick - A Sinner - Most Unlearned - The Least of All - The Unfaithful and
- Utterly Despised - By Many
that's what it says on the statue.
The words of the man himself, from his Confession.
The author of Let's
Go : Ireland calls this a boring town, but it's not.
From here, there's Ashling Crafts, Browne's Footwear, and the Westport Town
Hall. We also have the 'Maris Shop', whatever that is, and the Record Centre,
which is probably closed, but the Bookshop is open a Sunday Morning, so this
town gets my vote.
Maybe the Let's Go person had trouble getting laid here.
Walked as far
as the statue of St Pat holding the shamrock.
Maybe if I'd bought the 'Rock Stick' for £1 at the start I might have
been fired up to go further. But, I've seen it. If I'd climbed it, said the
prayer in the chapel at the top, done the stations, said the Hail Mary's and
Our Father's, then gone to mass within the week, I'd be granted a Plenary Indulgence.
I'd get into heaven, free, no questions asked ...
Ashford Castle, Cong
On the ferry,
the Ashilaun, now berthed at Ashford Castle. Yes folks, it's Lifestyles of the
Rich and Famous time, with the Certificate to prove it. The castle is brilliant,
even if it is creaking with the weight of the wallets who stay there. Even the
other passengers on the boast seem better heeled than most.
to Inchigoill, of the Mairtin
O'Connor tune. Wonder if he took the ferry too? Nah, bet he swam, with his tent
on his back. Bet he camped out in the woods of Inchigoill, grokking the serenity.
And there's a whole bunch of young women, all wearing sashes, that has something
to do with 'Irelands Pride'. Liam thinks he's hit the jackpot.
and there's lots of serenity here to grok.
The twelfth century chapel, the gravestone of The Navigator, the seriously impressive
walk through the trees, the ferns, the moss covered stone walls. It's perfect.
Irelands Pride is having a photo shoot, and they mince through the trees, again
back on the boat
and 'Irelands Pride', or at least the Western Pride part of it, has hit the
bar, the G&T's, the Budweiser and the whiskey with coke, all in a cloud
of cigarette smoke. Western Pride must be a fundraising event, rather than a
beauty contest. I've seen better looking ones spitting on O'Connell Street pavements.
'Stauntons Pride' has love bites fading; 'Emmetts Bar' Pride has a double gin,
and 'Cummins Bar' Pride, well, she's the pretty one, but 'Gannons Bar' Pride
is an utter dog.
and as we get off the boat, the Pride of 'Melrose Bar' announces that she's
busting for a piss.
McKinlay House, room 116
The drive here was
really odd, passing from wonderful stone walls, ruins of castles and cathedrals,
to bleakness dotted with factories and warehouses. Remained totally calm, even
if negotiating the one-way streets of Galway is a nightmare. Must be the inner
peace found at Inchigoill.
In 'My Tea Shop', a vegetarian restaurant. Over the road is Clifden Heritage
Crystal, and over there is the Roundstone Music Centre, which is basically full
of bodhrans. Arrived here after driving through the Maam Turk mountains, which
were .. I'm not using the word brilliant again, or stunning .. they were majestic,
looking utterly perfect.
We're about to drive
the Sky Road.
loved the Gothic
Chapel, with the guardian angel gargoyles and the 'faith, hope, charity ...'
and a fourth virtue that I can't remember because I probably never had it anyway.
Stopped on the way
at Linnane. The pub they used in the filming of 'The Field', where Richard Harris
tells all the locals that if they bid against him at the auction then they're
dead meat, then buys drinks all round the seal the deal.
and now the highlight of any trip to Ireland. The Salthill Leisure Land. Water
slides, the kids love it.
During a walk around Galway, some hippy shop, the Celtic Spirit or something
like that, its' shelves full of inner-peace achieving, finding the strength
within, the consciousness-raising tomes, and the myriad of mood rings, and astrology
jewels and stones and charts, and the hippy clothes, and a one-ness with the
universe and be-here-now and all things living, buttons, badges and posters,
and the girl behind the counter is telling a younger friend that, sometimes,
she "just feels like killing people."
and, according to
the memorial at the base of the huge Celtic cross, Pope John Paul II celebrating
Mass at Knock, on 30 September 1979, was, quote, "the greatest event in
Irish history since the coming of Saint Patrick."
um, not really sure about that, probably the Easter Rebellion, or the Famine,
or the Battle of the Boyne, or the arrival of the Vikings might, in light of
retrospect, have been a tad more important.
The stalls nearby
sell tacky souvenirs, but I didn't see what I wanted. A JC with a beating electrical
heart that bleeds. Wonder if the Pope went home with his pockets full of trinkets,
and did Mother Theresa distribute the luminous Mary's to the lepers back in
Bloody Idiot !!" I screamed as a small bus wants to hedge out against the
traffic. Holy Bejaysus, I blasphemed at Knock. I'm expecting to be struck by
lightning at any moment.
Medh, commanding her Irish forces against Ulster.
The Pillow Talk of Maeve and Aillil.
From this mound her army set out,
to be eventually defeated by Cuchullain.
Around here too, the fort at which the bulls fought, fatally.
is both the beginning and the end of The Tain.
Through Tulsk, where St
Patrick did the Daughters in, to Roscommon.
Athenry. And the battle is about to begin. By sheer luck, we happen upon the
Athenry Festival, saw the drummers, not blue like they are in the National Geographic
article on Ireland, but leading the troops, and were cute anyway. The
Battle of Athenry is being recreated, but this time, the Irish will win.
Nothing like changing history.
and now, the fireworks.
which were sensational, the entire crowd oohing and ahhing loudly, and applauding
at the end. Then, down to the square, along with the other thousands. The band
'Irish Mist' began and, of course, playing The Fields of Athenry.
and then driving
back through 30k's of utter darkness, with the appallingly inadequate high-beam.
Looking for Kilconnell.
And back, from walking up the Hill Of Uisneach, where, apparently, Beltane
Games were held, and Justice Dispensed. Wondering what kind of games, and
what kind of justice, and just what did happen around here, on those Beltaine
Eve's of long ago.
They burn books around here. I'd better be careful.
Looking for a place
for a tea and sticky-bun type affair.
The first place that offered 'tea and snacks' turned out to be a pub, no snacks.
We're told that "the chips and take away things are up the street on the
right. The Castle." That one definitely had the squints, bet she was a
character in the novel, probably the old slag that ran the pub.
So, up the hill, to the Castle Restaurant. The plastic chairs are bolted to
the floor. And, on the wall, a photocopy of a stolen tractor. Yep, they all
have the squints around here. The old crone in the blue jacket with the mealy
mouth, has the chronic squints; the waitress, who, at the moment, is singing
along with Bon Jovi's 'This Ain't a Love Song', has the learner squints, probably
been over the grill a little too long, a bit too efficient to be pleasant.
In the Craft and Tea Shop. Nice Town. Bet Michael Stipe had tea in here when
REM played at Slane Castle. Bet he ordered the rhubarb tart.
the walls, much of which has already been red-dotted. Bet Stipey's red dot is
on the painting of the Donegal Boglands.
Appalled by the 30 years of archaeological vandalism that's been wrought on
this place. Devastated. Trying to take it back to how they think it may originally
been, not that they know for sure anyway. Half the mound has gone, in the attempt
to reconstruct the entrance from the East. Jaysus. No wonder they have to leave
And back in Dublin.
On the 15th September, there's the premiere of a new Shaun Davey piece, Gulliver,
along with The Brendan Voyage, at the NCH. Brilliant.
And yes, now I've
seen the Knowth mace head. Must have walked past it at least a hundred times,
and never noticed it. Spirals on either side and a geometric pattern on one
end. Looks kind of like a face. Strange, the Knowth tour guide, Aideen, didn't
mention the other stone object from Knowth, in the same case, the one that looks
like some kind of ribbed dildo.
St Stephens Green, and The King Of The Isle is being performed. Like a cross
between Shakespeare and the Wizard of Oz. Stayed 'til the end, when Ariel is
freed from her bonds.
to the Irish Music Resource Centre, or something like that, down Baggott to
Upper Merrion, to Merrion Square. It's numbered consecutively down, from 87
I think, passing the Arts Door. Find 63. Knock, then see the buzzer, press,
crackle, "yes, please", buzz, click. Two floors up, and I'm met at
the glass door entrance, sign the visitors book, and told to leave my bag under
the stairs before I could even get my question in. Unfortunately, the Head of
this place is in America, at some folky-type festival, probably gittin' on down
to hoedown banjo-pickin' bluegrass toons. He'll be back on the second of September.
Damn. But I can look around if I want. Okay, then, I will. I get shown how to
use the computer. How are they catalogued? By title? By composer? By performer?
They need a cataloguer. Yes, I think I could catalogue away quite happily up
in that Georgian building overlooking Merrion Square. Anything's better than
On talk-back radio last night, the fallout from the Leaving Cert results received
yesterday. Stress. Counselling. "Just tell 'em they did their best, an'
yer love 'em anyway," .. must be a mother whose boyo bombed ...
Bewleys, in South Great Georges, after having filled two washing machines.
"Are yoo our helpurrr ?" asked one of the four fat Americans in the
laundromat. The man says no, but the non-Sunday girl nods yes. A helper?
On the other side
of the Road, from the left, the Nagina Tandoori (Indian Cuisine), it's sign
white on blue; then Down To Earth health foods (green and red on cream); then
a drive, possibly through to a carpark; then Jimmy Dean's fast food diner (gold
on black); South Street Diner (pizza, wine bar, pasta, neon sign); the Studio
Five Hair Salon (green on black); Prontaprint! (white on orange); Alliance Electric,
the Camcorder Centre (blue on white), and who's having a 'summer sale'; then
the Cerebral Palsy shop (cream on green); and, as far as I can see from here,
the Juice diner.
C thinks the Bewleys
tea, this morning, tastes like "dishwater". I always thought that
was tea's natural taste.
And back from the trek to every cinema in Dublin, Liam giving his CV's to anybody
that'll listen. First, to the Lighthouse in Abbey Street, and he's given an
address to contact in Temple Bar. Then, up to the Adelphi, useless, they're
apparently closing up in October (couldn't happen to a more deserving dump).
To the Savoy, and the woman in there seems friendly enough, but they won't be
hiring 'til October, so it's a don't call us we'll call you thing. Up to the
Ambassador. And on the recommendation of the Adelphi people, we head up to the
SIPTU building, so Liam can put his name down for the Omniplex, whenever that
finally opens. But, we're told to come back on Monday at 9:30. Okay, we'll be
here. Then, to the IFC, but no, they're not hiring.
Finally, through the castle, and there's a jewellery exhibition called 'Body
Bait' in The Crypt. Freddie Krueger type gloves, a bra tie-clip, things vaguely
Celtic. Impressive stuff.
Dame Street's been done up for the filming of Michael Collins. Smoke machines
pouring forth, the fake cobbles on the road. The extras hanging around, smoking
and photographing each other. "Roll !" and "Cut !" being
yelled from somewhere, as 1920's type motorcycles roll ...
Dublinia, the medieval extravaganza. Strongbow. Silken Thomas. Black Death.
The best bit was finally getting to walk over the bridge of Bridge Street.
The Hugh Lane Gallery.
The best, apart from the Harry Clarke windows, is Madonna Irlanda, by Micheal Farrell.
Bought the postcard of that one. 80p.
And Sharon Shannon's 'special guests' turned out to be Donul Lunny and
Ritchie Buckley. Sitting in Whelans, three seats back from the speakers,
and, jaysus, it was loud. Painfully loud. And yes, they played Theme For
A Found Harmonium. And, bejaysus, she plays fiddle too. Bloody well. And
tin whistle. Bloody well.
Donal was cool. I think Donal Lunny may be the ultimate cool person.
Just wish it hadn't been so loud.
Maybe I'm just getting old.
Up the Quays, somehow passing the closed Screen Cinema, Liam lamenting the
useless space of Dublin's dead cinemas, the Screen, the Carlton, the not-quite-dead-yet-it-just-smells-like-it
To the NCH, buying tickets for the performance of The Brendan Voyage.
Westropp's on the
Aran Islands. Photographing Dun Aengus.
I have to do this, but don't feel good about it. Around to Leeson Lane, and
Barra's there, and tell him that yes, this is getting really depressing, and
the children's bones in particular are affecting me. We chat awhile, Ardfert,
Ballinagore, Feile, Navan Fort, Cruachan, and finally, here's the key and then
the 'thanks a million' cliché, and I'm off, I'm free, I never have to
wash another bone. So, why don't I feel better about it. It's not like I'll
Just have to learn to live without the OPW.
Finish an entire Westropp book. Inishmore, the Black Fort, the Temple of the
Four Beautiful Saints, Killeany, and others.
Took pity on two old fart American tourists, lost on Dawson Street, leading
them to Grafton Street. Showed them where Trinity is, and how to find Christchurch
C and the kids have been down to the Powerscourt Gardens. They broke in, apparently,
through the back way, over a ditch, then over a barbed wire topped fence, which
turned out to be Powerscourt's back fence, and the vista of the gardens just
On with the
Hardly dancing, barely able to drag themselves on stage. Coastal landscapes,
the cliffs around Clare, Poulinka, or Paulakirka, whoever's responsible for
the handwriting on the negatives should be shot. No, they should be taken to
the photographed cliffs, and thrown off. A sacrifice to the handwriting gods.
The Record Collector, in Exchequer Street.
Don't stay long. There's something mean-spirited about that place. To SubCity,
and some boyos buying something they'd prefer to have in a brown paper bag.
Something with naked females on the cover. But a garda is in the shop too, browsing
through the Judge Dredd comics, maybe imagining himself cleansing Dublin single-handedly.
In China, they've discovered the bones of a 200,000 year old vegetarian crocodile.
Late night talk-back radio, regarding private investigators. The callers, mostly
women, talking about the revenge they'd take if they hard hard evidence of some
cheatin' goin' on. Food poisoning was popular, while some woman wanted to watch
the bonk happening.
meanwhile, in Pakistan, two Irishmen (one from Dublin, the other from Wicklow)
have been sentenced to a flogging, four strokes each, and hard labour, after
pleading guilty to attempting to smuggle one and a half tons of hash out of
the country. One and a half tons ? Jaysus, wonder how they tried to do it. Be
rather conspicuous with one and a half tons of hash up your arse.
St Stephens Green
The East Coast Jazz Band is entertaining comparatively few. Maybe the trad jazz
is not quite the drawcard they hoped for.
before returning to the waiting Westropp's, look around upstairs, to the room
at the end of the Viking display. The Cross of Cong. If you stare at it long
enough, the geometric designs begin to swirl, then it becomes clear, totally
crystal clear, like a 'Magic Eye' painting.
Treasury, to try the same trick with the Ardagh Chalice, but
it didn't work.
back to the Westropps.
Wishing that he'd photographed people more, to give his work another dimension,
amore human one, as the overwhelming sensation is that his work is utterly devoid
of humanity. Just the place, the thing, the ruin, and never the people. Well,
only very occasionally the people, but only once a name, somebody named Tim
Down to Henry Street, buying tobacco, after getting a stamp at the Post Office
(no, still no revolutions happening there). End up at the scout shop, looking
at cloth badges. The Beaver Patrol is rather tempting.
Apparently Bob Geldof is in the country, as Geldof Snr is not in good shape.
More news. Three people just arrested at Dublin airport, attempting to bring
in 300,000 pounds of dope. I'm wondering how much their excess baggage was,
and , apparently, a 'Famine Doll', called Maggie, on display at the Dublin Woollen
Mills, has caused 'outrage', as it looks too healthy. Maybe they should put
green around its lips.
The Wolfe Tones are playing at tomorrow's rally.
Meath Street. The Liberties market. Shoes, hardware. And a truly great 3D clock
with JC crucified. Over the road, the Molly Malone market, mainly women's clothes,
with one stall specializing in tacky underwear. One sad woman holding up some
red suspender belt and corset ensemble. Jaysus, it's take a lot more than that
to make her look even remotely sexy. But I'm sure her friends were telling her
"oh, that's grand altogether, Sean'll sure to be surprised tonight."
Sorry, lady, he won't be. You could wear them as you handed him his dinner in
front of the TV and he wouldn't even notice, just a ''scuse me, luv, can't see
Down to the Kilmainham
Hospital. There's an exhibition of Modern British Art. The Wondercunts or something. Five large paintings. One to a room. Black and grey geometrics. A wank, a total
and utter wank. Brainless. And the artists justifications for what his doing
is the best part. Explorations of space, apparently. Juxtapositions of shapes.
Yeah, right, and the moon's a balloon.
At Ryans, in Wexford Street.
The Long Hall was insane with people, the Brazen Head too far, Sinnotts too
new, Whelans too loud. So, we're here, and it's wonderful. The usual, a glass
of red wine for C, and a Guinness.
Read the book I borrowed from the library on John O'Donovan. Brilliant man,
totally brilliant. From him, every Celtic-based study in Ireland since the 1830's,
but who died virtually penniless. He's buried at Glasnevin. And the book called
'The Mystery of Robert Emmet'. The mystery is where he's buried. The author
of this one seems to favour St Peters on Aungier Street. I guess they can't
write his epitaph because they don't know where he is.
On the balcony, again. The life on Bride Street never seems to stop. Two guys
now entering Tailors Court below me, at least one of them had a key. Kids now
running up the street before disappearing into Bull Alley. There's a couple
in conversation, he has a blue checked shirt while she has a Nike jacket, a
50 bus to somewhere, motorcycles, now a taxi, a woman carrying large plastic
bags, a man with a rolled up newspaper, laughter from somewhere probably the
Napper Tandy, a car pulling up outside the entrance to the E block of the Iveagh
Buildings, and now here's somebody else that knows the code, two taxis, and
three boyos walk by, the IMP bus, the 150 to Willington, an empty 002 Bus Eirann
turning up bride Road, cyclists, cars, red lights, now people eating chips from
Burdocks, two more boyos who are whistling to someone, two discarded chips bags
on he traffic island, and Gary's now shuttered and who won't be open tomorrow as he has a funeral or a wedding
or something up in Donegal, another taxi, and the car near the E block is still
there, engine running, lights on.
On the steps of Parnell House. Over there, the fife and drum band is really
giving it a belt, the marchers ready. "Britain Must Move For Peace",
banners and flags, Irish flags, and others I don't recognize, red white and
green. Socialists and Anarchists flogging their newspapers.
Demanding talks, Now!, Demanding the release of political prisoners. Placards,
some showing the faces of these prisoners. A caged wagon with two 'prisoners'
inside, one handcuffed to the warden, the other 'under the blanket'. The bands,
thunderous drummers. Hitting hard. Really basic stuff, the drummers almost drowning
out the tunes, doesn't matter, it always seems to be The Foggy Dew anyway. One
band with about 20 tin whistles, another led by accordions. Banners, with Saoirse,
which I found out later means 'peace, freedom, liberty'. Black and white uniforms,
some with black berets, some with tricolor trim. The Communist Party of Ireland
was there too, although what roll they'll play in the Peace Talks I'm not sure.
And, as the procession reached it's end, we followed it down to the GPO, where
the Wolfe Tones were playing, on the back of a flatbed. Doing material like
Get Out Ye Black and Tans, done, they said, as a tribute to the past. Then something
about the Streets of New York, dedicated, they said, to all the non-Irish in
the audience. Yay!! He's dedicating a song to me! Maybe he's grateful that I
bought a copy of 'Alive Alive-O' all those years ago. But no, he narrows down
his target audience, to Americans. Thanks, pal. None of them bought your record.
Then, he refines it down even further, to those who gave support during the
Times of the Troubles, he means those who gave money to the IRA. Expatriate
grandchildren get a song. The song these truly deserving Americans get is the
one about the Girl with the Black Velvet Band. Fine, they can have it. The Wolfe
Tones are utterly redundant. Without the wall of the Troubles, have nothing
to beat their little fists against anymore, and they just look pathetic.
And while our laundry
is bring done, we're in Bewleys. Nearby is a not-so-old-but-worn man who's having
an imaginary conversation with someone. Shaking his head now and again, disagreeing
The Liberties Walk that was scheduled for today was cancelled. As I was the
only one that turned up. Still, had a pleasant enough chat with the woman that
would have been the tour guide. Celts, Vikings, and Saint Patrick wasn't a Catholic,
The Normans and Strongbow, and Wood Quay, and meeting an old woman who used
to play in Dalgety Square before it became the Christchurch Carpark.
St Stephens Green. Between Dawson and Kildare Street, the stage has been set
up for 2FM's Beat On The Street. I ask some security guy who's on,
"Elvis ... and Bob Marley," yuk yuk yuk.
Yeah, right, brainless,
an' the ghost of yer dead grannie is appearin', live in St Stephens Green, t'give
Elvis a head job.
And every yob in
Dublin is here, yep an' the fightin' has already started, as the garda led one
boyo away after punching another in teeth, his mouth bleeding, and they're pissing
on in the park like there was no tomorrow, and The Beat on The Street is bland
as all buggery, the hiphop dancers, the oh-I'm-far-older-than-any-of-you-in-the-audience-but-I'm-still-cool
announcers, with the movin' and a 'groovin', and the only people having fun
at this 'party' are the ones on stage, the audience only there to clap and wave
their arms and say 'yeah' when they're told to.
Right now, I could go home. Australia-type home.
Eden Quay. At the 33 bus stop. It should be here at 10:10. To Skerries, with
a change there, for Balbriggan.
Finally, moving, Gardiner Street Lower, under the bridge, Old Moran's Hotel
on the Talbot Street corner, Mountjoy Square, The Kasbah ruins, into Dorset
Street Lower, on the N1, "Scrumpy Jack" appley not orangey, follow
the N1 far enough and you'll end up in Belfast 164 k's, Drumcondra Road Lower,
cat and Cage pub, Plunkett College, into the boring pebble-dashed suburbs, Toy
Crazy apparently Dublin's biggest toy-store, Santry Hill Industrial Estate,
Brahms and Liszt Bistro, Swords memorials, Dublin Airport, Kealey's Lounge Bar,
there's a hitcher wanting a lift to Drogheda, off the N1, Welcome to Swords,
"the cheap and easy way to call when you're out swanning around" callcard,
Ryan Brothers pub, 151 ks to Belfast 16 to Balbriggan, A127, 13 ks to Skerries,
3 ks to Lusk, harvested fields, a postman with a chin strap, a folly in the
graveyard, Ros-eo is Rush, Park Lane boutique, can't imagine the worlds rich
and famous in much of a hurry to get here, martello tower, cabbage fields, a
Cromwelled church in another graveyard, Skerries.
In the Coffee Shop, which I think had something to do with O'Leary's Bakery,
waiting for the extension to Balbriggan. Cuppas and sticky buns. Outside, there's
a monument erected to some benevolent landlord.
Graffiti on the bus, "I was here but now I am gone", obviously quite
true. "Loic Stronzo !", it's Italian, for something shit. 7 Ks to
Balbriggan, the Schooner Lounge, Hoare Ruck Street the road hugs the coastline,
and I don't know the name of the mountains over there, whatever, they're beautiful.
Left and over the railway lines.
a welcome sign to beat all.
Seamus Lawless and Sean Gibbons
Where brutally done to death
by British forces, while in their custody
20th September, 1920"
Street. If John O'Donovan lived somewhere here, then there's no plaque to show
The Douglas Hyde Gallery, an exhibition by Niele Someone. Minimalism. Identical
short strokes painted onto the white walls. Complete wank.
Hodges Figgis, reading Paul Durcan's 'Give Me Your Hand'. Poems based on the
paintings from London's national gallery. About time someone did this, to give
the paintings thoughts.
Then back to the Museum, more Westropps. Landscapes of Cork. He's down on the Beara Peninsula, which he spells Beare.
Confused for a while, 'til I located Kilcatherine Church on the OS maps, in
conjunction with 'The Archaeological Survey of County Cork, Vol 1, West Cork',
and even nailed the townland, Gortgarriff. So, Westropp, beat you on that one,
with yer crap spelling and all. Loser.
About to leave for another session, at the Auld Dub. To bang the drum.
As usual, smoked too much, and drank too little. Another bodhran player this
time, the one who's returning home to Boa Island after three years away. And
some girl telling me all about Liam O'Flynn and Water Under The Keel.
Walk around to Ely Street. Number 8. Where Yeats, Markoweitz and Gonne gathered,
but no plaques marking the spot.
Street, there's the Pierre Victoire restaurant. They have free postcards. Near
the menu, and I think I'll have the frogs legs, the escargot, l'baguette et
l'croissant d'chocolat, and maybe for dessert, l'glace avec un cherry on top.
But not today.
Shannon thinks that the 'Tribal Gathering Ireland 95', with Prodigy and The
Orb, in Cavan, would be okay.
And, over there,
is the Queen of Norway. In the flesh. I don't think I've ever seen a real Queen
before, and I didn't even know they had a Queen. I thought the red carpet that's
been laid through the foyer of the Museum was for me. She's being shown around
the An Og - Irish Gold collection. And probably, soon, will be shown what's
been done towards the Viking exhibition upstairs. Anyway, it's all quite strange.
Countries that cast off their monarchies, like Ireland and the US, kiss arse
'til it hurts when royalty visits. I'm disappointed that she's not wearing a
crown. I reckon it should be compulsory.
and while I was just hanging around St Stephen's Green, doing nothing in particular,
Liam saw Bob Geldof outside the House of Lords in College Green. Damn! Still,
if I'd approached him and told him how much I like The Vegetarians of Love and
The Happy Club, or that Thinking
Voyager 2 Type Things is the greatest song ever written, he'd probably have just
told me to fuck off.
It is, though.