Sunday, December 31, 2006
Banshee is from the Gaelic Bean-Sidhe (same pronunciation basically) that means literally Fairy Woman.
The Bow would follow the families of Celtic Families, those with an O’ or a Mac’ before their name, rumours had it that she followed particular families even in that ring which are the O’Neills, O’Briens, O’Connors, O’Gradys & the Kavanaghs – those 5 families strangely enough span the country and were representative of our old 5 provinces, many more clans are interlinked to these families.
She appeared as a young girl, a stately woman or an old hag in tatters, wrapped in a grave shroud or a grey cloak.
She was also known as The Bean-chaointe (keening woman) or the Bean-nighe (the washer woman) in my home province of Leinster. The banshee would keen for a family who was to lose a member, staying outside the window of the person in questions room, howling her sorrow all night long. The washer woman was a tag attributed to her washing the blood stained clothes of those about to be killed in battle.
Indeed it was said around the fire at night to us young’uns that she was an ancestral spirit come to forewarn us of an impending death in the family. When the wind would be raging outside, I remember Paddy Gaul telling us that was the “Bow” outside on her way to some poor family that night. Mr. Gaul was a great one for a song or a story. His wife, Marie would coax him on for our benefit. Another neighbour, Andy Nolan & his wife Sissy would tell us similar tales – The Nolans were from the Counties of Laois & Kilkenny, and great neighbours also.
“Bow” , pronounced bough as in Bough of a tree was a name you often heard in Wexford Town. She was known to haunt Mulgannon Hill where she often follow some poor unfortunate wending their way home after the pubs would shut.
Stories of the Bow abroad in the town were manifest, our mothers especially those native born would warn us “to beware the bow” when we would stay out past dusk during the summer, we would all scuttle in dutifully no doubt muttering about that “oul hag” and then shutting up hoping a member of the other crowd weren’t within ear-shot.
As I revealed, amongst even the kids when we are out playing in the street. The Bow was never that far away. A local character who had the appearance to our childish imaginations at least had to endure the privations of being identified as the local banshee. There was a woman, dead now called Bridgey Harris who was known as 'the bow' or "Bridgey the Bow'.
Some little curs would call after how...."Bowwww!" and get a curse muttered at them as she scuttled her way home through the Republic of Davitt Road South on her way home to the sylvan folds of Wolfe Tone Villas.
She was person of modest means, the poverty of her life, apparent by the cut of her clothes, the perpetual woodbine cigarette hanging from her lips.
Her occupation was one of forager & scavenger. She was eternally searching trough empty & abandoned houses, picking at rubbish tips…Many a day we’d see her pass by, her cart – an old pram carriage piled high with timber, slates whatever trundling by…her tiny frame pushing what a full grown carthorse would have difficulty pulling. A hard life she had, of that there is no doubt.
The local wags said she had millions stashed by but I heard when she passed on, she had but a pittance and that ended up soon in the coffers of some local hostelry, her house-friend drinking it away in mere months - he to die by a broken neck after falling down the stairs in a drunken stupor. Sometimes Irony is a bitter joker.
Life’s not all sweetness & roses especially where drink is concerned.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
A wonderful story teller.....His website is on the right hand side of this site....if you have an interest in the Other crowd or indeed enjoy the lore of Celtic Ireland and beyond...reading this man's tales is a must.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Dave Allen came into the world as David Tynan O'Mahony, his father was managing editor of The peerless Irish times.
He tried to break into journalism but the doors of Fleet Street were closed to him so he worked his early passage as a Butlin's redcoat and then began the long apprenticeship of British workmen's clubs & variety halls - an arduous experience for many.
He worked for Aussie TV in the 60's and returned to the UK with a reputation, he soon broke into the big-time and some years later had his own TV show on the beeb where his shaggy dog' stories were to make him legendary.
I loved him for his irreverence and indeed for his profound logic & wit...he loved to attack the stupidity & hypocrisy he saw in everyday life, the Catholic Church in particular he was scathing about...those of us who grew up in Ireland during the 60's & 70's found him a breath of fresh air.
Have a look at some of the sketches below brought to you by fellow fans & the good people at YouTube.
Can you remember the first piece of music to literally blow you away...I can...For me, it was not a song, It was an album from start to finish...was it the world's first concept album? I dunno but it is regarded as a masterpiece and rightly so.
The Beatle's "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
Released in Europe on June 1 & the US on June 2, 1967....the music world changed forever... I was a three year old then, I did not discover it till 9 years later.
I literally wore out my album; I played it so much...it was, each time, an incredible journey.
Needless to say there were not many albums that come close to it in terms of its genius
There are so many firsts, events & connotations associated with this album, that to write of them here would be a waste of space..see the wiki article here; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sgt._Pepper
The greatest band in Music History?....I think so.
I went on to discover Roxy Music soon after, Peter Gabriel & Genesis not to mention the Police, Ultravox, The Waterboys & the Divine Comedy plus a few others but the Beatles magnum opus remains supreme in this writer's collection.
Monday, December 25, 2006
For all who pop in here, just to wish you a happy CHRISTmas! and may you have a wonderful New Year.
Friday, December 22, 2006
The conversation goes like this......
sez she"What do you want for Christmas?"
sez se " but what do you want for Christmas?
sez he"I rather like to hear how the "Cat" is these days, he has a new album out under his real moniker, Yusuf - it's called an other cup"
sez she"- but what do you want for Christmas?"
So maybe if I post it on the blog, the missus will get the hint!
Seriously though, John Kenny & Pat Shortt were "D'unbelievables".
Brilliantly funny, two dynamos whose energy had to be seen to be believed....sadly though the the act is no more. I had the pleasure of meeting them when I worked backstage in the Theatre Royal and two nicer fellahs you could never hope to meet, John was very intense (mind you the man had torn knee ligaments in Kilkenny the night before and was in some pain which I am sure had a lot to do with that!) while young Pat was just so relaxed throughout the performance. It was interesting to observe how they interacted.
Both Men are tremendous musicians and I remember John Kenny's reggae version of "Spancil Hill" from my school days. He was a regular visitor to the County Hotel with his one man show back in the day.
John Kenny I understand is doing well after being seriously ill while Pat Shortt had some success with a show called "Kilnaskully" which the folks sent over and after viewing it, I have to say I was underwhelmed with it. A bit like Lennon & McCartney, perfect together.....hit & miss apart.
Anyway the good folks at "You Tube" have some great clips taken from the stage show "I doubt it says Pauline". The beautiful thing about this humour is that it is almost transcendental to any parish in Ireland.
"The Legendary Timmy Ryan"
"A Right Funny man D'Arcy"
"Back of the Church"
Thursday, December 21, 2006
No, not that type of slob.....
At the Wildfowl reserve, there are several hides from where one can watch the comings & goings of many visitors to our Wexford shores. Many a Sunday afternoon, I spent there with my German Shepherd "Dusty" at my side who was quiet as a Mouse looking on. She was a very contented and good natured dog and a lovely companion on a walk...her favourite place in the world were the forests of the Raven's point.
Monday, December 18, 2006
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love". (NIV)
That was the day I became a father for the first time and a little blue eyed boy entered my world. He was all I had imagined, dreamed for & prayed for.....when I held him in my arms for the first time in the delivery room, I sang him "Molly Malone" and "One man went to mow".
My poor wife was exhausted but the moment she seen his face, I will never forget that look in her eyes. I think that is the moment a marriage truly is discerned by both parties as a union. Once a child enters into the world, your own needs become secondary. That day & that day alone, I truly came to realise what Love was all about.Time flies, He is growing up to be a wonderful little boy and as I described earlier he has a wonderful sense of humour. He has his moments too and believe me we know what the terrible twos is all about. He is also a very caring, sensitive little fella - loves to play and loves life.
But It is a wonderful thing to have hope and a child is the living embodiment of that. I really believe I understand now what the Christmas story is all about. It is a blessing to realise daily how blessed we are by God.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
"I'm forever blowing bubbles" not a Michael Jackson love ballad but the Hammer's anthem!
Mr. Hannon is now the band and I guess he always was -regardless, he has now retaken control of his work from earlier musical labels. One song that echoes to me especially in the last few years is "Dumb it down !" taken from the "Regeneration" album:
A song for the times....wouldn't you agree?
"Wexford worst outside Dublin for numbers lying on trolleys", ok it's about hospital beds or rather the lack of them but I was instantly whisked away to the Wren's Nest car park on the Quays and members of a certain local first aid organisation sitting in L&N carts telling lies...you knew that these people were lying - their lips were moving!
The "Wren's Nest" was a favourite haunt of mine as I was a member of said organisation and I deny totally any implication or involvement in said activity.
The picture is the closest I can get to a wren at this time of the morning, It is "woody" the woodpecker who visits us each year for the summer. One of the lovely things about living in the Ohio sceachs is the wildlife, the place teems with it and the little fellah loves to sit & watch the birds especially the wee ones snack on tit bits he leaves out on the deck.
I had a close encounter with a copperhead last year when I was weeding, we said 'Howya!" to each other and went our merry way....I believe the snake may have heard of an Irishman called Patrick in his family history and decided to bugger off, I am glad he did!
Spiny pays "W" a visit.....
Other news is that star of the household will be 3 on Monday (tomorrow) and already is showing incredibly good taste in the comedic ...He has a penchant for Monty Python and er, Spiny Norman...."Dinsdale!" he exclaims when Spiny pops up. Some people reading this will be horrified.."Monty Python - so young an age?"...well it didn't do me any harm or so they tell me as they bring me back to my room on a trolley, (that word again!).
Monday, December 04, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
I keep in touch with the ould Sod (the home-town not the father), occasionally by reading the local rags. The more successful one still is chock full of the Sharons, Sandras & Mikeys or the “lads” having a great time in whatever local hostelry while the other is more of a press release for the stalwarts of the local parishes, such as “Macra”, the “ICA” or the Church of the latter day blue shirts or Fine Gael as they are more popularly known in the Emerald Isle.
I see local pundit, intrepid journalist, promoter, producer & wag, Frank Sinnott has a tome out this weekend and to say I cannot wait to read it is an understatement. Frank is a literary genius, I kid you not. He truly is. A great wit considered by some to be over bearing but usually these “some” were the butt of Frank’s humour. Now as I recall when the humour was turned on Frank, he was not so receptive which is your death sentence for slagging in Wexford. If you can’t take it, you better not dish it out! A choleric Frank was not a happy sight!
I knew him first as the representative of WCLR or Wexford’s (first) Pirate radio. He was the morning Dee-Jay and because of the vast bush of hair that populated his head, neck & chin, he soon earned the eternal moniker - “the Hairy Cornflake”. His love of Meringues (pronounced by him famously one morning as “Merang-gwews”) is a well worn tale trotted out when nostalgic Wexford - radio listeners gather to remember the shows of yesteryear & their hosts. Hosts such as Frank Sinnott, Danno Murphy, Kitty Daly & Kevin Lewis.
Licensing killed the Radio Star;
Wexford has long been renowned for her pirates, buccaneers & privateers, back in the late 70's & 80's, a new constellation of stars were discovered in the environs of George Street who were dubbed pirates by the owners of the rags mentioned above. This factually wasn't true as there was no legislation in place to justify such a term.
Therefore it was felt around the country by hundreds of Community radio stations that they had a legitimate place in society and as a whole most communities took them & their DJ's to their hearts. Local voices, local news - the people loved it.
To mention Danno Murphy & Frank Sinnott in the same sentence may yet send Frank into a rage if he reads this but they were paradoxically pillars of the radio community back in the day.
Danno had a hugely popular lunch time show on the wireless which always started with George Jone’s “Don’t let the stars…”, that’s all I can remember as Country music & I simply don’t mix….I was sad to hear of his recent demise as I spent many a pleasant evening in his & his wife Josie’s company…Good decent people.
Ireland owes Danno a single debt of "in/gratitude" in that it was he who exploded Richie Kavanagh onto the scene or so it seemed to us bemused & bewildered townies whenever one would tune in after the dreaded theme song, as either Richie would be on plugging his latest opus or his latest opus would be bleating out of the speakers…and Bleating was the operative word as Richie hails from “sheep country”, nuff said! . Another Danno perennial was the Furey Brothers rendition of the ballad “When you were sweet sixteen”…God save us all!
Kitty Daly had a loyal following too. Her theme music played by “The Max Jaffa Orchestra” was so joyful that the Samaritans would have an extra 100 phone lines opened for the duration of the show. Offers of sponsorship from Funeral Directors all over Europe had to be turned down owing to the fact that the show was being done “for the love of it!” or amateurishly in another word. Kitty though was a great friend of my family and had a wonderful sense of humour, her late husband Willie was a great favourite of mine as a kid. A very kind, gentleman - what more can you say of a person.
For the Opera Lovers, Kevin Lewis was the epitome of “Local Boy makes good”. He grew up in the canyon of concrete that is High Street, home to the Theatre Royal – venue of one of the top ten Opera festivals on this endangered planet and considered by most experts as the “Opera lover’s opera festival”. Not only did this man have a wonderful singing voice, he was a member of the chorus, backstage worker, Flies man et al. Kevin has an encyclopedic knowledge of the world of opera…this was all long before the internet and googling. Here's a link to a nice article on WFO and her latest news, http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=26070
The tribe of the "yet to be published".
My hometown though is simply seething with literary talent, many have been published – many haven’t...as yet! Several of these writers, playwrights & balladeers (published & unpublished) are friends of mine, no boast just a simple fact. Most Wexford people can make that same statement too.
One in particular, Francis M. is a poet of incredible depth & sensitivity. I pray his work will soon see the light of day as it needs to be read & shared by the world.
Another pal of mine Jim B. is working on his life saga and again it will be a remarkable work as the man has the eye of a hawk & the ear of an owl when he is observing life. When it comes to him telling a story, there is none better and it is clear to see that the mantle of Sheanachie rests easily upon his shoulders.
His stories of the tinkers, the local characters & the days of carting are both hilarious & profound. Jim laments the loss of a way of life – the horse & cart, (his family were Carters). He being the last of his family to drive a cart and stalwartly refusing to go the way of the dodo. He maintains a stable and will ride out every day, sharing his good humour to all he meets. His dedication to that tradition is humbling. A decent, caring Christian man.
Back to Frank though!
Frank would often burst into my office on the Quayside to have a chat and a cup. Frank is a brilliant guitarist. His siblings were all genius in all their chosen fields. His brother Declan is a legend in Irish Music, both Rock & Folk – no mean achievement.
Anyway, Frank once told me this tale of Christy Moore being interviewed by Bernard Patrick Fallon on (the then) RTE’s fledgling radio two. Apparently, BP or “the Beep” says to Christy, “Christy, some people say that you are angst ridden, what do you say to that?” the Kildare-man retorted with the legendary “Jayze, I’ve never ridden an angst in me life!’ I still remember the pair of us howling at that one...
That is what I liked about Frank, we had a similar irreverent attitude to the pious & the pompous except Frank’s was of a more unrestrained variety and sometimes I envied him that. More power to him and I wish him great success with the book.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
One of the favourite pastimes of the Dub is the naming of the statues.
“The Tart with the Cart”; Molly Malone’s statue just off Grafton Street. Only in Ireland do they rejoice in a prostitute or a “hoor” as they say back home. She was supposed to be a fishmonger but if she was on the game, I’d bet the smell may have had something to do with her lobster pot! Other names include the Dolly with the Trolley, the Trollop with the Scollops, the Dish with the Fish or the "Flirt in the Skirt".
Oscar Wilde; “the Cock on the Rock”,” the Quare in the Square”, The Queer with the Leer, The Fag on the Crag, referrals to…ah well, I won’t go into that one!
“The Floozie in the Jacuzzi”
“The Mot in the Pot”
“The Dame in the Drain’
“The Bike in the Dyke”
“The Bitch in the Ditch", "Bidet Mulligan"
“The Hoor in the Sewer”, to name but several.
One monument I love is “The Wolfe Tone Monument”.
Theobald Wolfe Tone is the Father of Irish Republicanism and one of our greatest heroes. His story like all Irish heroes is a tragic one and has been recounted elsewhere by others far more qualified than this writer. The Statue is surrounded by a phalanx of granite columns, each one 12’ in height…the Dubs call it “Tone Henge”.
The “Crََann an Ór” is a tree of gilded leaves located outside the Central Bank in Dublin. Other names though are “The balls up” & “Trinity’s other ball” in reference to Dublin University aka Trinity down the street.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Last August we were taking in the view from the Hancock Tower’s viewing gallery overlooking Chicago’s wonderful sights. Turning the corner we bump into Peter Cech & Carlo Cudicini, Chelsea’s Goalkeepers and probably the best two keepers on the planet.
Peter kindly posed for a picture which was very kind of him and I was instantly struck by his friendliness & ease when faced with a fan and his two year old. Later on, we managed to get the two lads down in the elevator as there was a waiting line of some 200 souls and we all had a training session to get to. Us as spectators, Carlo as a participant and the lads missing the bus would have been a tad embarrassing for them & the club. Peter was in recovery from a shoulder operation
We had met Peter the year before when he signed my youngster’s shoe along with Frank Lampard & Billy Gallas; He looked surprised and then had a laugh at the novelty of this “footpad”.
Anyway, up to the current day. We are watching the game live from Reading on Saturday. It is barely a minute old and Peter goes out to collect a ball with the onrushing Stephen Hunt attacking the ball, they collide and Peter has a depressed head fracture which according to accounts later, he nearly died from in the dressing room.
Carlo deputizes and at the end of the game, he is also knocked unconscious. Thankfully he recovers but Peter Cech is out of the game for at least a year and has two metal plates in his head.
It simply shows how fleeting life can be, how transient our lives are here and how thankful our family is for the safety & recovery of Peter Cech. A great ambassador for Club & Country.
Friday, October 06, 2006
An agreeable journey through the Bluegrass state. The elegant bloodstock farms as one approach the outer reaches of Lexington are simply mind-boggling in their size, scope and grandiosity.
Lexington itself seems to be dominated by the University of Kentucky; it appeared to this observer that the city was one big campus with shops. I am sure this is not true but one got that feeling as we drove through the town center.
We met up with my work colleague (Sue)’s daughter, Son in law & little girl and firm friends were made for life. It’s lovely to encounter synchronicity with other like minded beings. We enjoyed a wonderful Kentucky welcome and we are eternally grateful. Jessie & Scott were brilliant company and we look forward to seeing them soon again especially as dinner hosts.
So onto the book-signing at Joseph Beth, Almost a “This is your life” moment when I popped up. I think Eoin was a bit (pleasantly) shocked to see another “yellow belly” in the tropical rainforest that is Lexington, Kentucky especially one that he went to school with.
The ironic address “Hallo, Mr. Colfer!”,..,
“Oh! It’s Mister now, is it?”, the sardonic reply, all in good jest. A typical Wexford rapport was struck up. Two sentences and my wife & oldest had another instance of how the natives communicate back in Forth & Bargy.
Eoin had a huge turnout of fans, indeed of all ages and I would think that he left with a few hundred more, looking at those that strayed in and attended his one man show which enthralled his audience. It took me back to his Dad’s class and the easy yet sharp wit that we enjoyed as 10/11 year olds all those years ago.
While Eoin was signing for the legions, I observed my youngest going about his merry way, playing with Thomas the tank engine and then discovering (much to my delight) a castle and an array of Crusaders, Saracens, Vikings , Dragons and God knows what all. I was back in my childhood once more, Knights & Castles was a source of hours of fun for me and to see my youngster get in the spirit of thing was a joy beyond description. Stevenson’s “Black Arrow” jumps to my mind as I type, there are memories here just bursting to get out on the page but another day will suffice for now.
Eventually, the book signing was over. Eoin was released from his duties and we had a chat & a drink. The poor man was drained, shattered even and obviously missing his family. A city a day, thousands of faces, thousands of books, thousands of images leaves a person shell shocked I guess after a while. All he sees are airports, bookstores, hotels on these tours, guarded by matronly trolls/sorry, literary agents from his adoring public.
It meant a lot to my stepson to be in the company of another Wexfordman. My wife’s family are here stateside, 5 generations removed from the Model County. Our oldest, Bryan, is very aware of his roots, is an aspiring writer and to meet a published one in the form of a genial, relaxed form as Eoin whose books he happens to admire, was a thrill for him. It was nice to see the encouragement he received from Eoin, just as I did from his father many years ago. The apple did not fall far from the tree! (Very much meant as a compliment, Eoin!).
We parted ways and my last view of Eoin was a sad one. Trudging back to his nearby Hotel suite, alone and dog tired. Success can be a cruel mistress but as Eoin informed me earlier, “this way I can spend so much time with my family for the other 10 months of the year”. At least, he’ll be “en famille” in the City of Angels before he heads home.
He has a one man show to start in London’s West End later this month…It will be a sell out of that there is no doubt. I hope he gives himself some time out in the meantime. We need people of his ilk on the planet. What an ilk is I do not know, probably a Canadian elk but we’ll discuss it another time.
Thanks Eoin & God speed home!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Saturday Mornings, 10am and I was sitting before the telly...HTV (Harlech Television) and I was set. My favourite TV show in the whole world. The world of Gerry Anderson was my world. Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Secret Agent and my other favourite Joe 90 who my son loves watching just as much as I did. The schoolyard was full of kids doing the marionette walk on Mondays. The music as I recall was "deadlydesh" as we say in Wexford.
It is amazing seeing my youngster develop passions for the same thing I once enjoyed as a youngster.
As we grew up, Gerry Anderson developed series for the adult world like U.F.O. and his more famous work Space 1999 which has a huge following stateside. Martin Landau was the main star in this series. The premise of the series was that the Moon was being used by earth as a repository for storing nuclear waste. A catastrophic explosion blows the moon out of the earth's orbit and sends it hurtling through space. It actually was a fun series and very popular when aired. The models used were brilliant in concept 7 design, the eagle transporters (pictured) being particularly striking. The design crew of this series led by Brian Johnson (who worked on Thunderbirds as well) went onto work for Ridley Scott in "Alien" and George Lucas in Star wars "The Empire strikes back".
UFO, for me though was the Dog's Bollix of Cult TV. Great premise, a secret organisation set up to counter a sinister alien invasion. Great stuff when you're a teen and the world is full of conspiracy theories. The autopsy of the alien in the first program was incredible (for the time) TV, 11pm on HTV - Saturdays. Great thing I was allowed to stay up & watch it by my mam. (mam= IRE, mom=US, mum = UK). Barry Grays theme music as before in all the other shows listed here was groooovy!