The Decision is Made!

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It was actually Peggy who spotted the poster below in the library window, during her weekly knitting circle morning. Mavis, our local librarian is only brilliant at organising all sorts of activities for every age group in our local branch. We’ve had rap bands, writers’ talks, talks on how to grow your own yams, some sort of yoga from Pakistan, Indian meditation, Far Eastern meditation, Zen mindfulness and oh, God only knows what else. We’ve had everything in that library, bar Sliabh Luachra set dancing, psychic readings and seances. Although Peggy claims that one morning when she was doing a row of purl, the table moved. I wouldn’t set much store on that bit of information though as the whole village knows that building was thrown up in about six weeks during the Celtic Tiger years by Baldy Biggane, the Fianna Fáil TD, who’s in the construction business. Whenever anyone mentions Baldy and construction in the same sentence, Peggy nearly gets apoplectic, rolling her eyes to heaven in the most grotesque fashion and ranting on about destruction, brown envelopes, corruption and the planning system. And of course, this being Peggy,  we have to have a spiel about the brave men and women of 1916 and how the heroes above in the GPO, must be only turning in their graves, at the shoneens and the gobshites running the country now. She says all this without pausing for breath even. Jesus!

To be honest, part from swallowing mikado biscuits like she’s been on hunger strike for a week and upsetting the spirits enough for them to start messing around with the tables, I’m  not quite sure what Peggy actually does down at the library every Wednesday morning. I mean,  I haven’t seen anything like a finished product and she’s been part of the knitting group now for at least eighteen months. Wouldn’t any normal person have half a dozen blankets knitted in that amount of time, for Christ’s sake? As far as I can make out, it’s a pure gossip shop and the needles and all their talk about fancy stitches are only for show. Peggy and Lourda came near to putting each other’s eyes out only the other week with the needles, in a row over Brexit, and only for Mavis coming between them, God only knows what would have happened. That poor woman must be a walking saint to put up with Peggy and that Lourda Kennefick in the same room.

But to get back to the point I wanted to make. Ah, the point about the poster Peggy saw below in the library window, shure what other point is there? You see, Dolores’s only daughter Imelda, is getting married next year to some doctor working above in Beaumont, and Peggy, Bridie, Marilyn and myself are all shoe-ins for an invite to the wedding. Well, Peggy says that many’s the time she wiped that girl’s arse when she was in nappies and it would be a right slap in the face if she, Peggy, didn’t get an invitation. She got right aggressive, saying that whatever about anyone else, (meaning me, Bridie and Marilyn, of course)she had certainly earned her right to be there, and if she wasn’t invited, neither Dolores nor Imelda nor the fancy Beaumont doctor she’s marrying, would ever put a foot inside her door in the future, blah, blah, blah. Jesus, I wouldn’t mind, but the wedding is not till next summer, for feck’s sake. Anyway, Dolores put Peggy out of our misery by saying the whole lot of us were going to be asked. It’s going to be a right posh do, according to Dolores,  the whole thing is taking place in Dromoland Castle. Well, that got our attention alright, I can tell you. We were all in great form, sitting outside on my patio, drinking wine and toasting Imelda and Harold(the fiancé, the fiancé, shure, who did you think Harold was?) in fact, we toasted everyone in both families. I think the evening ended with us toasting the Minister for Health,  but my memory is none   too clear on this point….

It was the following morning, in the cold light of day, that the reality hit us! I was barely up when Peggy arrives in with a face on her that would stop a clock and the kettle was only just boiled when the other three appeared, looking as tragic as Theresa May on the steps of Downing Street, when she was trying to persuade the whole world that she’d won the election. It was Bridie who summed up our dilemma most clearly. ‘Jesus,’ says she and she waving the mug of scalding  coffee dangerously close to my head ‘ we’re going to be a holy show below in Dromoland Castle, in front of all the doctors from Beaumont, shure the four of us are like a herd of heifers after being fattened up to be taken into the factory.’

There was a short pause and then, all of us slowly put down the the ginger snap biscuits we were about to bite into and looked at ourselves. I mean, really looked at ourselves. It was Peggy who broke the awful silence.

‘There’s a notice below in the library window,’ says she ‘for something called Fairy Tale Slimming Camp. It said something about maximum weight loss being guaranteed with minimum pain.’

To make a long story short, the whole lot of us are going down to the community centre tomorrow night, to sign up for the classes. Shure, what choice have we? We can’t be waddling into, like, Dromoland Castle, swaddled in rolls of fat and making fools of ourselves.

I have a strong gut feeling this could be a very long year.

Vanessa

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The Return!

Well, no more excuses. The rain has cleared up, it’s blazing sunshine, the bike is sitting there looking at me expectantly. Luigi, the Maltese, has returned my helmet from wherever in the garden he hid it for the last five days and praise the Lord, it’s not chewed totally beyond redemption so…IMG_0252

Mind you, I feel very aggrieved as my cycling companions have all deserted me. Nora has just fecked off in the camper van to Waterford, with the pretty lame excuse that she hasn’t been to Tramore in years ( I mean, Tramore, for God’s sake..)and Eoin is studying for his Junior Cert music exam next week. Between you and me, I’m beginning to worry about Nora’s stamina and commitment, because prior to that she was so busy with exam supervision, that it was too late when she got home to wheel out the bicycle, at least, that’s her story. I think she might not be up for it as she looks very shifty when she’s trotting out these excuses, and refuses to look me straight in the eye. A sure sign, my mother always believed, of someone who was hiding something. Come to think of it, I didn’t see her for a whole twenty four hours after the last cycle.

Still, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt for the moment. Instead, I’ll practise being cunning and crafty for a change and use this solitany spell to get fitter. To steal a march on the two of them, well, Nora anyway, not so sure about Eoin though, he’s got youth on his side. Anyway, if I’m a bit fitter, I won’t be frightening the neighbours into thinking I’m having a heart attack, and making a show of myself in front of the whole road by gasping and spluttering, puce faced, as I come up the hill, looking like I’m fit to be anointed.😡 God knows, in this day and age, what with a comedian leading the Free World and the prospect of the DUP allied to the Tories, not to mention Brexit, hard or soft, people have enough on their plates to be worrying about besides the state of my health.

Jeez, the thought just struck me. Am I being completely irresponsible altogether going off on my own? What do you think?  Shure, if I collapsed off the bike, I could be  stuck in a ditch somewhere between Greenane and Allensbridge until Nora and the camper come back from Tramore and Eoin’s music isn’t on till next Friday. Jesus, I could be dead from my injuries and extreme malnutrition by the time all that happens.😟

Maybe I should think again.  I suppose I could always alert Josephineto keep a look out her window, just in case, like. Better be safe than sorry, all the same.

Jesus, I’d just so hate to be stuck in a ditch for the weekend and then be the talk of the parish for the rest of the summer. Well, wouldn’t you? I mean, like, the ignominy of it….

Image courtesy of Stock Photos.

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Cork Midsummer Festival

Beautiful sunshine in Cork yesterday made it seem like continental Europe. Strolling along Oliver Plunkett Street, I was struck by the crowds of people sitting outside bars and cafes eating, drinking, having a relaxed afternoon. Outside Market Lane Restaurant, I joined Mary-Anne, Darius, Margaret and She Who Shall Remain Nameless for a chatty, relaxed lunch in the balmy sunshine, IMG_0352before heading to Crane Lane Theatre to catch Sharon, the latest play from Charleville’s Katie Holly, following on from last year’s highly acclaimed Marian. 

Sharon was excellent with Irene Kelleher in the main role and well worth a visit. It’s being performed again this afternoon and next weekend. It’s funny, poignant and moving with some great acting from all three actors.

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Tha Adventure. Part 2. A reassurance for all concerned friends.

We have Survived🤗

Post cycle.

IMG_0253Three miles, my eye! we arrived back after a FIVE mile cycle, (Nora lied) fit for the priest. To make it worse, I must have read the google map thing in reverse because the whole bloody trip was UPHILL. In fact, there were hills where I never remember hills being before. I wonder could that have something to do with global warming maybe. Whatever, I was nearly dead by the time I came home. I only made it up the last hill because half the neighbours were sitting out in their gardens and I couldn’t make a show of myself in front of the whole road by falling off the bike and collapsing into the ditch. It was sheer will power that kept me in that saddle I can tell you.
Nora and myself were joined by my godson, Eoin, who is staying with me for a few days while he studies for the Junior Cert next week. He must have taken some of my dog’s steroids because he fairly glided up those hills. Oh, in case his mother is reading this, all three of us decided that a practical geography trip by bike is worth more than three hours cramming from notes and books. Nora and I are very responsible adults and take our role in loco parentis very seriously. Moreover, Eoin is full of appreciation for us. He actually said that he never before met responsible adults like us. So there, all the begrudgers.

 

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The Adventure Begins…

And so it begins… a summer of activity with the first cycle of the season scheduled for 3.15. A mere twenty five minutes to psychologically prepare and regret all the stodge I’ve eaten since September, while simultaneously using google maps to find a totally level cycling route for what Nora, my cycling partner, optimistically refers to (with a completely straight face)as a short three mile trip to get us into the swing of things. Just hope we’re not going to find ourselves swinging into A&E like SHE WHO SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS had to do after falling off her bike on Sunday. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t really the NAMELESS ONE’S fault, the fecking footpath was far too high in the first place to be doing any of her stunts on.IMG_0252

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The Rebel Brothers of Bawnard House.

It was Tuesday, May 2nd 1916 and dawn was just about to break. Seven men in the uniform of the Royal Irish Constabulory, turned into the long laneway, leading to Bawnard House, an impressive farmhouse on two hundred acres, a short distance from Castlelyons village in North Cork. These RIC men were in no mood to appreciate the breaking of a new day, however. They had been sent from Fermoy Barracks, with orders to arrest the Kent brothers of Bawnard House, long-noted for their nationalist views and a thorn in the side of the British for many years.

Only a few days before, the Easter Rising had ended with the unconditional surrender of members of the Volunteers and the Citizen Army. Later that Tuesday morning, the first of the secret and hurried court-martials would begin in Dublin when Pearse, McDonagh and Clarke would be found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Their executions would be carried out at dawn the following morning, Wednesday, May 3rd.

But these were tragic events still waiting to happen as the RIC silently approached the large and impressive Bawnard House early on that Tuesday morning. The four Kent brothers, all unmarried and living with their elderly widowed mother, Mary, were to be arrested. This, despite the fact that none of them had risen against the British during Easter Week, largely because the Cork Volunteers were totally confused by McNeill’s countermanding orders and didn’t have any idea what exactly was going on. The Kents, like so many others, up and down the country, waited in vain for word of a Cork uprising and when it didn’t arrive, they had returned home to Bawnard, disappointed and confused.

When the RIC, led by Head Constable Rowe, a native of County Wexford, demanded their surrender, the Kents refused. Was their refusal to go quietly and without a fight influenced by their chagrin at not rising up with their Dublin comrades the week before? We’ll never know now. What we do know is that when the brothers refused the RIC order, the constables opened fire on the house and the Kents returned it. For over three hours, the brothers, aided by their mother, who cleaned and cooled their guns, and the police had a stand -off, in the course of which Head Constable Rowe was killed and Richard, the youngest of the brothers, was severely wounded while trying to escape. David, another brother, was also injured in the shoot-out. Sometime during the attack, it seems the RIC were reinforced by the military. Finally, almost out of ammunition, the Kents had no choice but to surrender.

Thomas Kent. Bridge in Fermoy.Iconic photo of Thomas Kent, barefoot, and his brother William, being taken over Fermoy Bridge, to jail

In Cork prison, Thomas, David and William were tried for the murder of Constable Rowe. Richard had, by then, died of his wounds. William was acquitted and returned to Bawnard while both Thomas and David were sentenced to death. David’s sentence was commuted to five years. He served only one year however, being released from an English prison in the general amnesty of 1917. Both brothers went on to be politically active in the tumultuous years that followed the 1916 Rising. William became the first Sinn Féin chairman of Cork County Council in 1917 and David became Sinn Féin MP for Cork East in the 1918 general election.

Thomas was not so fortunate and was found guilty of the murder of Constable Rowe. As yet another day dawned, on the following Tuesday, May 9th, clutching his rosary beads, the fifty one year old nationalist and devout Catholic, was executed by firing squad in Cork Jail. His body was thrown into a quicklime grave in the grounds and there he languished for ninety nine years before his remains were exhumed and buried, following a state funeral, in the family vault in his native Castlelyons in 1915. In 1966, the 50th anniversary of the Rising, the railway station in Cork was renamed Kent Station in his honour.  Their mother, Mary, survived the deaths of her two sons by only a few months and died in 1917 while David was still in prison.

Thomas kent. Lying in state.Lying in state at Collin’s Barracks in 2015

Today, you can visit the family vault in the tranquil grounds of the Roman Catholic Church in Bridesbridge, near Castlelyons. Interestingly, not far from the Kent vault is buried yet another famous Irishman, An t-Athair Peadar O Laoghaire, author of Mo Scéal Féin, for many years a staple of the Leaving Certificate Irish course. He served as parish priest of Castlelyons from 1890 to 1920 and as such would have been ministering in the village during all the turmoil of the years leading up to the War of Independence, dying at the height of that brutal conflict in the parochial house on March 21st. 1920.

 

 

 

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