Sunday, January 28, 2007
Anyway the word has now seeped into our consciousness particularly those of us from The Western European Isles.
If you're a "muppet", it generally means you're a "saddo", an "anorak", basically a pain in the arse.
These days I seem to meet more & more of them maybe it's me getting older and crankier but there's only so much blather one can put up with.
We have muppets that follow Chelsea for instance that swallow every crap piece of reporting or rumour mongering that the English media dream up - these muppets are known as "new fans" who have jumped on the bandwagon, particularly so in the last two years. They are not to be confused with the muppet known as a Manchester United Fan who are a different breed altogether although they do share some genes in fickleness and ignorance.
I could go on about the muppets we all encounter at our workplaces who revel in muck-raking and making mischief but I won't - the trick is not to listen and if everybody ignores the ignorant, they will melt away.
Then there are those maniac muppets we meet on the highway, the ones that absolutely, positively must get to the traffic lights at 90 miles an hour, almost driving you, your family and a host of other cars into the ditch, in their rush to oblivion and then slouch down in their seat as you pull up beside them, maintaining eye contact at a fixed point in the windscreen before them. The light goes green and they're off like Michael Schumacher in a F1 Ferrari - 2 mins later you pass them pulled over by those great folk of the Ohio State Patrol (closest thing to driving nirvana when you see that!).
There are many more species of muppet out there, like the surly "convenience/movie store clerk-muppet" or the "Stadium attendant muppet" that regards a stick of celery as an offensive weapon (Chelsea fans at Chicago know all about that one). There is a universe of muppets out there who could all do with a good dose of "exlax" laden chocolate to begin with.
I could go on but I think by now you understand the term "muppets" as we lovingly call these morons across the pond. Genus Muppetus should be the scientific term to enter the lexicon.
At least Kermit had an excuse for being a muppet, he had a hand up his arse!
Monday, January 22, 2007
Cavan = filthy, ignorant hillbillies, tight. Hobbies: discovering IRA ammo dumps and knitting black balaclavas. Still learning not to "sup tay" from the saucer. Cavan is also renowned for the discovery of copper wire when two men from Arvagh were fighting over a penny!
Clare = fiddle-playing charming people and, more recently, fine footballers. Hobbies: Falling into pot-holes and being never heard from ever again, setting up golf courses in their back lawns. Has a Giant US airbase called Shannon.
Cork = the loveable rogues of Ireland. Here for everyone else’s entertainment. Hobbies: Milking cows, being European capital of culture but not knowing what exactly that means or how they got it boy? Calls itself the Rebel County which is an oxymoron as they are known for being a shower of sell-outs & informing backstabbing bastards. Why do Seagulls fly upside down over Cork City? They're not good enough to shit on!
Donegal = away in their own world up there, not much known about this eccentric type. Hobbies: Stripping the Irish coast of fishies, running back up to their corner of the island and blaming the Spanish….aye twas the Spanish!! Winning an All-Ireland every century and playing host to Gay Byrne.
Dublin North = criminals, drug dealers and factory workers, dirty women, skinheads and all-round examples of human waste. Hobbies: Heroin and watching serial numbers being filed off stolen BMW's, joy-riding anything from a lexus to a washing machine.
Dublin South = west Brits, snobs, rich, easy glamorous women. Hobbies: talking shite and sleeping with their best friend's spouse or mother. Difference between a Northside & Southside woman having an orgasm, Southsider drops her voice, Northsider drops her chips.
Galway = sophisticated culchies, sexually adventurous, cultured and wealthy. Hobbies: Teaching sex acrobatics to foreign tourists, dropping acid, juggling with fire on the streets, paying a million euro for a three bedroom suburban house and pretending it was a bargain.
Kerry = God’s kingdom on earth, no doubt about it. Some of the best land in Ireland but they don’t tell anyone this. Hobbies: Football, swimming with dolphins, football, seeing how many foreigners they can score each year, football, hosting a massive festival every week, football, going to the south pole and football. Arrogant bastards - a kerryman with an inferiority complex is one who thinks everyone else is as good as him.
Kildare = is anyone really from Kildare or are they all just from Dublin? Hobbies: Denying they have anything to do with Dublin. Spending best part of 4 hours each day travelling to and from Dublin. Using Daz for whiter than white jerseys on a summer’s day. Known as the 3S' county - Short grass, Sheepshit & Soldiers.
Kilkenny = red haired alcoholics who refuse to believe not all land in Ireland is capable of growing barley and wheat “not a bother”. Hobbies = driving massive combines, hosting comedy festivals and having red-haired babies. Hurling royalty though Gaelic Football's red haired stepchild as they get beaten like one everytime.
Laois = harmless aul bunch of lads, hope to have the whole county by-passed at some stage by 2025 so they can get on with their own business. Hobbies: Living an honest life, collecting EU development grants, getting the piss taken out of them for being the queen’s county…ha-ha ye plantation bastards! Basically in hurling circles, they are renowned as the poor man's Offaly.
Leitrim = enigmatic reclusive weirdos. Hobbies: learning about traffic lights and roundabouts in school (night school for adults that is), Men have hairy palms and women pride themselves on their moustaches. Also known as Sligo's bitch.
Longford = Gombeen men & Lumberjacks. Trees, trees & more trees. Hobbies: Legalising bestiality and wishing they were from Leitrim.
Louth = IRA supporters, smugglers and bandits. Hobbies: Tearing through Cooley at 125MPH trying to stop the boxes of cheap vodka from falling out the window. Often referred to as being anti-Semitic but they say they just prefer "McArdles".
Mayo = Depressing, defeatist, negative, misery-laden losers, emigrate as soon as the umbilical cord is cut. Hobbies: roaring about how great they are, whinging about why nobody likes them. Home of the term - "Culchie" (Kiltymagh) & site of Europe's most misplaced International Airport.
Meath = either Dublin wannabes or mad country bucks. Hobbies: Beating Dublin at GAA and hoping that one day somebody in Dublin will actually notice, driving massive john deere’s cos they’re big, green and yellow too. home of Irelands's answer to Essex man - Navan man. Meathmen learned to walked upright in the last century, they have come a long way since in fairness.
Offaly = Bog. We put the "y" in Offal. Hobbies = exploiting bogs and later making them into tourist attractions…hats off! Noted for having the biggest mental hospital in Ireland. An Offalyman is affectionately known to Leinster's hurling royals (i.e.) Kilkenny & Wexford people as a "Biffo" = "Big Ignorant Fucker From Offaly".
Tipperary = promiscuous girls, Tipp does not have two different Ridings for nothing! Hobbies: Getting a flat in Dublin and losing their accents and hoping their parents don't find out. Has a town that sounds like an ambulance siren - Nenagh!
Waterford = decent honest hard-workers generally good folks and if you believe that, hah! Hobbies: Calling a strike, blowing glass, calling a strike, eating blahs. The only good thing to come out of Waterford is the road to Wexford.
Westmeath = like most midlanders, generally boring. Hobbies, much like some people up north, winning one football title and then believing they know it all about football. Home of Ireland's "Las Vegas" - Mullingar, gave us such stars as Foster & Allen, Joe Dolan & Donie Cassidy's wig.
Wexford = Brown earth you’d wanna take home in your pockets. Hobbies = selling their “home-grown” organic fruit (bought at supermarket that morning) at the side of the road in summer and ripping-off gullible Dubliners out for a drive in the country. Also beating Kilkenny in hurling and going on the piss for the rest of the summer (with the team). Home to Ireland's own version of "deliverance" - Kilmore Quay.
Wicklow = either country snobs with range rovers or poor aul sheep farmers with peak caps and a small black and white sheep dog with dirt all over him. Hobbies: setting up illegal dumps in their back lawns and denying all knowledge of that 300,000 tons of asbestos, nappies and syringes -"Never saw it till now your honour". Wicklowmen are also known as Sheep hustlers as opposed to the rustlers below in Carlow. What do you call a Wicklowman with 3 sheep? - a pimp!
Monaghan was missing, but did anyone really notice? A sad state of affairs when it's best known son was a chronic masturbator who wrote about "the stony grey soil".
Monday, January 15, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
"The Horse" was the name of a teacher back in the day, in the Christian Brother's School, Green Street, Wexford. "The Horse's" real name if I recall was Brother Hogan, he had just finished teaching when I arrived there in September 1976, but that didn't stop him from keeping a bit of order in the schoolyard with his walking cane, he was the recipient of at least one stroke which I understand hastened his retirement - why the name "the Horse"? I don’t know but I guess it had something to do with his long face.
Another Brother that was there when I arrived there was "Huggy Bear". "Huggy" was a bear of a man and had a bear of a temper. He had a bombastic hatred of all things British but so over bearing was his personality, it gave one a sympathetic view of all things British. It was a guerilla war between him & his tormentors who would draw a union jack on the step into the first year prefab or on a blackboard, Huggy would not enter the room until it was cleared away. To some of us the Union Jack was the garlic that kept the vampire away as he was wont to lose the head with a youngster who would stutter an answer particularly so if the youngster had an English accent or was of a different faith. He was soon to be retired.
We had some good brothers also, Brother Casey had a quick-fire temper but was an excellent math’s teacher and genuinely cared about the student. Casey set up many initiatives on his own and also with the principle -Brother Shreenan. Youth music groups, computer labs, a fledgling sports set up which included a Championship winning football team and a cross country team. He also started the Friday night Ceili where many a youngster met their future spouse. I heard he had "gotten out"of the Brothers & had married, only to die some years ago at the relatively early age of 53. It knocked me back when I heard of his demise. It was a very sad day indeed for me as he had made a great impact on my life and I had a lot to be thankful to him for.
Brother Shreenan was the principle I remember most. He was a very deep, thoughtful person not scared of giving us discipline should we merit it neither was he afraid of confronting a teacher who he felt was bullying a student or even worse was generally ignoring the student over some personal foible, imagined or otherwise. He had this way of gliding along the floor, (the brothers in those days wore soutains), We called him usually "the boss" though I heard "Vader", "Darth" or "Lord Darth" - I called him "the ghost who walks' in deference to the Phantom Comics that were abroad at the time in the papers.
People are quick to slag off the religious these days, particularly those involved in schooling but where would be without them. They made huge personal sacrifices, giving up promising careers to educate a largely truculent, ungrateful bunch. Some indeed were forced into these orders by pious, sanctimonious parents who felt giving up a child would ease their way into their own Catholic heaven. You cannot force someone to do your will or to subjugate their own existence in deference to yours, there is only one ending in such cases - a bad one. Undoubtedly this is what happened to a lot of these people who we encountered during our school years. My wife's stories of her teachers in the Catholic schools of Cincinnati are almost a mirror image of my own. Some great, some good, some bad plus a host of sad, poignant tales scattered among them.
I look back on the remaining teachers I had and I have to say I am glad to have had them in my life. They were good decent, people who made a difference even if that difference is only coming to fruition now.
"Quack" as the man was known fondly to the CBS or Seamus Quirke was s singularly great teacher. He got the message through to our thick skulls and had a tremendous way of meeting you at your level
"Big John" MicNicholas & his wife Mena, John in particular was a tremendous teacher, in time his youngfella & my brother became great pals as his daughter Niamh & my sister Avril became great friends.
Tom Connon & his wife Angela were wonderful teachers too. Tom was an outstanding Sports teacher and a sympathetic ear. His wife Angela gave a lot of us a good grounding in the basics of French, which helped me when I moved into a "Wagon's" class for the last two years of my time there, as "the wagon" had no interest in teaching those of another's class. Years later I was coaching their kids and fine footballers they were too.
Miko McInerney was a great friend of my family and was a great Irish teacher but in those days I had as much interest in my native language as Joe Stalin had in "Noddy goes to Toyland". This was due to an intemperate w**nker who I had for two years in primary school that literally beat a lifelong resentment of the language into his students. Luckily "Miko" encouraged me to go to his native Connemara on a summer school scholarship where I discovered another side to my psyche and a lifelong love of Gaelic & her lore was rekindled.
"Buzzer" was our Chemistry teacher. I understood he got the name from his droning voice and the ability to put the most insomniac of insomniacs to sleep. "Take this down" he would drone as he entered the room and proceed to make us copy vast steppes nay rolling tundra of text-books, teaching us naught but what it must have been like to have been a scribe in a medieval monastery - poor buggers!
History was my favourite subject & so I read voraciously on the subject. Growing up in the house that I did, it was not a stretch for me to do so and I am glad I had two teachers Maura Coleman & Mick Waddle to encourage me or rather gently prod in certain directions. Basically to take away the blinkers and look at the bigger picture, this was particularly so in the case of Mick Waddle of whom I was poles apart politically but I learned to respect in the years afterwards.
On reflection, we were lucky enough to have some tremendous teachers, most were unpatronizing to us and dealt with us in a fair & open matter. they were mentors who gave us great encouragement for the years ahead.
It is a vocation - teaching, of that I have no doubt and a profession of incredible importance - I think of that old maxim, "the hand that rocks the cradle" when I think of these people. We were lucky enough to have some sound counsel at the most important time of our lives. I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
St. Mullins is a little village just up the Barrow River from New Ross. A cousin of my dad - Trudy Morrell, lived on the Kilkenny or "the Graigue side" high up on the inclines of Brandon Hill looking down upon this scene which you have to concur is a most agreeable sight. Trudy had to move eventually into nearby New Ross, a case of the practical over the romantic as she did not have a car & had to rely on a bus to get to shopping etc.
Driving from Trudy's home, you arrive in the village of Graiguenamanagh or the Graigue as it's known to the locals, a gorgeous riverside village known for it's abbey and it's cut glass _"Duiske glass". Once you cross the bridge, you're in County Carlow, another picture postcard hamlet that looks pretty driving through but probably is a place that you can't wait to scat from if you're a young local. Here you can hire a boat or a barge and navigate the river up to the canal system or down to Waterford estuary, heading into the Atlantic.
St. Mullins though takes the biscuit! There is a wonderful serenity to the place that you have to simply experience to believe. It has an impressive ecclesiastical history. The locality takes its name from St. Moling, a 7th century cleric, prince, poet, artist and artisan who built a monastery here with the help of "Gobban Saor", the legendary Irish builder.
In the 8th century manuscript, known as “The Book of Mulling”, there is a plan of the monastery, the earliest known plan of an Irish monastery which shows four crosses inside and eight crosses outside the circular monastic wall. It is said that St. Moling dug a mile-long watercourse with his own hands to power his mill – a task that took seven years! He became Bishop of Ferns, died in 697 and is buried at St. Mullin’s.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
More importantly, I have a little son who is growing up far from his father's home and this is really for his benefit. "To understand one is to know one" and I hope that in the years to come, he & his family will be able to read this and know their heritage. In other words to be aware of the spring from which their river of life within, was born. Thanks for reading!
Phoenix is actually a corruption of the Gaelic “Fionn-Uisce” pron Pheeyun-iska so that is the origin of the name. Fionn Uisce meaning clear water.
I always remember being fascinated with the deer that hid off in the forested parts but could easily be viewed from the road. I believe our purpose was Dublin zoo that day and I do remember having the time of my young life. The miniature train had a huge fascination for me that day and if I recall the Lions & the Chimps were the highlights of the animals on display.
On our way back to Granny K’s house in Cabra, Tom bought us each an ice cream at this little shop just above what is popularly known to generations of Dubs as the "Fairy Glen".
This “dale” if I recall had a mushroom roofed little house at the bottom of it where the fairies apparently lived. This was my first experience with the Other Crowd and I remember looking really hard for any sprites, pixies or leprechauns especially with Tom, who unbeknownst to the younger hordes of cousins that I have, was a practical joker.
Tom would be pointing to a bush and telling Kim & I, "Look there’s a leprechaun there!…he’s looking at you and having a right old laugh”. Of course to a tot, it was immensely frustrating not to see this little fella and if a grown up says “it’s true” - it must be…my infant imagination had a great time that day as suddenly, a little fellah with a red cap with a feather in it materialized before my eyes...at least I think it was my imagination playing tricks with me then…or was it? I told my gran later and she smiled, telling me it was a fear-dearg (far darrig), a red leprechaun, very mischievous and always playing jokes on us mere mortals.
That was the joy of having a huge extended family; I had great Uncles & Aunts on both sides including those who were married into the families of My father & mother. I was blessed in particular to have two wonderful godparents, my aunt Mai & my uncle Kieron.
My Aunt Mai never forgot a birthday, she is my mother’s older sister and from what I can observe looking back with mature reflection, she was a rock for my mother. One of my favourite memories is going to Switzer’s in Grafton Street to see Santa, getting this lovely parcel, green paper, red bow and then heading to Bewleys where the smell of the coffee, the cakes & eating my first ice cream soda will stay with me forever.
Kieron in particular has had a huge influence on my life. My Father's youngest brother, Kieron has always been there for me in thick and in thin and he’ll never know how grateful I am for having him in my life. We are supposedly guarded by guardian angels but how many children can honestly say they had a real, live one involved in their lives. Kieron took his duties as a Godparent very seriously and then some.
He brought me to my first International football match, bought me my first watch (a digital Trafalgar) – “just like Kojak’s”, I remember him telling me…he was & is, a big part of my psyche as I strove to be just like him. He is today a big success story in the food business back home. I think it is because he did everything to the best of his ability and life has a way of rewarding those people that do likewise. His maxims of philosophy were neither simplistic nor sublime just straight forward and that ethos lives on here in Ohio. I guess he was symptomatic of a gene that was evident in all his family, who achieved considerably in their chosen fields.
My paternal Grandparents, Paddy & Greta Kiernan outside their house in Cabra, Dublin
My Grandmother K was a daughter of Wexford. My Grandfather K, a son of Cavan. I never knew Grandfather, he died two years before I was born but I do have the privilege of being his namesake. He was a Policeman, a detective resident in Dublin Castle's "G" division(pictured) . It was he who set up many initiatives & directives that many western Police forces in particular use to this day. I understand from my cousin, Monsignor John Sheridan of Malibu, CA that he was one of the first to become involved in the science of examining the psychology of the felon, using forensics in detection and as such was one of the first if the first representative from Ireland to the newly founded Interpol in the 50’s. He was a meticulous record keeper, keeping clippings of every crime that happened in Dublin’s metro area for decades so now my co-workers if you’re reading this, you know where that trait in me, developed.
Granny K was a Wexford woman so on the occasions I came to stay with her in Dublin, we would talk for hours about the comings & goings of all her neighbours and how the town was doing. My Gran or Greta as was her name, was a Morris of Carrigeen, a name of some import if not renown in the town especially associated with seafaring. Her Father was a printer with the people newspaper and if I recall her mother was a Butler. Other names in her family were MacDonald, Hore & Scallan. Canon Butler being a favourite cousin of hers who we visited on occasion in Grantstown whenever she was down for the holidays.
Living in splendid isolation as I do now in Ohio, I appreciate how she missed her hometown though she had much more frequent visits from her cousins in Forth & Bargy than I do (or will ever have) and was immensely proud of her roots going back generations to the Flemish foot-soldiers that accompanied the Normans in the 12th century.
She had 15 siblings; her brothers in particular were very much involved in the Independence movement. Carrageen this little street in the middle of Wexford town was this hotbed of republicanism, surrounded either by trade unionists or home rulers, she was very proud of the fact that her own Morris’s, & her friends, the Cullimores & the Crowleys were the families in the town to form the first Sinn Fein cumainn (club). The struggle in the following years had a huge affect on her family, losing brothers to the struggle either through death or forced emigration. As I write, I am trying to locate her Brother Tom’s grave in Chicago – that is another story and a very poignant one too.
Granny told me all about the Wexford she grew up in. She recalled to me, of the lockout that Wexford endured two years before Dublin. The privations they all faced, the riots & the subsequent the clamp-down. She told me all about it because she lived through it. Looking back on it I am amazed at her recollections and the objective way, in which she described it, she was a wonderful observer.
It’s no wonder, we grew up very proud of our heritage…the streets of Wexford have bled a lot more in the struggle for freedom than any other Irish town I would wager.
I’ll write more of my roots soon. My mother’s family – The Dubs of whom I am inestimably proud of, have a tale to tell but that is another day in the telling.