Peggy Comes a Cropper

Well, the last three weeks have been like something out of Dante’s Inferno. I must have lost a stone, rushing around like a headless chicken. I know that Peggy is suffering and I know that ‘twas no picnic going under the knife at her age, but honestly, if anyone ever deserves one good puc in the kisser to drive a bit of sense into her, it’s that woman. She’s put years on myself and on her other friends, Bridie and Marilyn and Dolores, rushing in to the hospital, looking after her house, bringing up night dresses and underwear, shampoos and towels and bringing back the dirty clothes to wash and dry,  before taking them all back up to the hospital again for her ladyship to use – like blue arsed flies, meeting ourselves coming back. We were only saying the other night, that we wouldn’t be one bit surprised, if we were all to end up inside in the hospital with the stress and tension, that the woman is after causing the lot of us..

How did she end up in the hospital? I suppose you could say the whole thing goes back months, when that stray, ginger cat took up residence at the Brennans, who live on the other side of Peggy. Well, from the minute she set eyes on him, she hadn’t a good word to say and when he began to come into her back garden, sunning himself and digging up her flower beds, open warfare was declared. Honestly, I’m convinced the fecker was doing it on purpose to annoy her. The minute she sat down with a cup of tea, that’s when he’d stalk across the grass as if he owned the place, taking good care to look up at the window where Peggy was, just in case, she didn’t happen to notice him. Of course, the minute she sees him, she’s up off the chair like someone on Red Bull and out after him, screaming and waving the sweeping brush. Well, that was all well and good until one Saturday evening  three weeks ago when she spies him coming across the garden. This time though, he’d gone too far because what had he inside in his mouth but a bird, a robin. Now Peggy had made a right pet of that little robin and was feeding him from her hand for months, so when she seems him hanging out of the cat’s mouth, as dead as a doornail, she loses the plot entirely.

I was inside having a cup of tea with her when it happened. Suddenly, she leaps up out of the chair, starts screaming ‘you foxy little bastard, you’ and takes off out the back door and legs it across the grass after the tom, who’s still holding on to the poor dead robin, for nothing else only pure devilment. I stand up inside the window, with my mouth open, as the cat jumps over the wall and then, well, what does my óinseach of a woman do, but  takes a flying leap at the same wall, as the disappearing tom. Well, I actually thought I was seeing things. Imagine, a woman nearly eighty years of age with a bad knee, attempting to clear a two foot wall as if she was a race horse. For Christ’s sake!  Ah, are you mad, shure of course, she doesn’t manage to go over it, for feck’s sake, aren’t I just after telling you, that the woman is nearly eighty years of age with a bad knee!  No, what happens is the next few seconds seem to pass in slow motion- I see her taking a half jump and then she’s whacking up against the wall, before falling sideways and rolling over and over on the stony path, before coming to a dead stop.

For a second, I can’t move and she obviously has lost the power of speech, because there’s this eerie silence. Then, the screaming starts, like she’s being squeezed between two gorillas. When I hear the racket, I come to my senses and race out the back door, my heart in my mouth, to see is the fecking eejit of a woman only after killing herself or what?

When I reach her, she’s seriously scary-looking, she has this ghastly grey pallor and beads of sweat are pouring down her face but worse, her left leg is flung out in front of her and her ankle is bent kinda backwards at a seriously, unnatural looking angle. Now, I’m no nurse but even I can see that the situation is bad, very bad. I think it’s possible she might even lose the leg, maybe. By this time, half the village is scrambling into the garden to see what in the name of Christ is the matter with Peggy? Is she dying or what, they want to know? Of course, if she is, no one wants to miss it so by the time I’m dialling 999, the whole fecking place is like a madhouse and my heart is palpitating with terror and shock . By the time the ambulance races down the village street, all sirens blaring, I don’t know if it will be Peggy or myself  who’ll be the first into it, so I don’t.

To be continued

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Nun Takes the Veil.

A Nun Takes the Veil.
I find this poem by Cullen born poet, Bernard O’ Donoghue, extremely moving. Whenever I read it, the pathos of it moves me to tears of sadness and rage in equal measure. I ask myself, what kind of a society or institution would accept little girls into a convent at the age of twelve? Making a lifelong decision, or having it made for them, long before they had the maturity to make any decision, on anything at all. A vocation – at twelve!
A cousin of my mother entered a convent at the age of thirteen after finishing primary school and set sail for Australia, four years later to the Mother House in New South Wales. In those pre Vatican 11 days, if the young girls were intended for the missions, they set sail knowing they would never be able to return home. Their departure was like a wake, something similar to the so called American wakes when young people emigrated to the US. What heartless and nonsensical rules! Words fail me at the cruelty of it.
The other point is that if these young girls grew up, as many of them must have, to realise they didn’t have a vocation, they were trapped in the religious life until they died as few ever left. If they did, they would have been quite isolated and more than likely would have had to emigrate in order to have the freedom to build a new life. Most didn’t, unable to face letting down parents, families and communities and institutionalised from a young age, they feared their ability to carve out a new life for themselves, so they stayed put. I don’t think it’s very surprising that many of them became heartless monsters themselves, inflicting terrible damage on children in their care.
The poem itself captures the innocence and the beauty of a mind just opening to the world around it.
That morning early I ran through briars
To catch the calves that were bound for market.
I stopped the once, to watch the sun
Rising over Doolin across the water.
 
The calves were tethered outside the house
While I had my breakfast: the last one at home
For forty years. I had what I wanted (they said
I could), so we’d loaf bread and Marie biscuits.
 
We strung the calves behind the boat,
Me keeping clear to protect my style:
Confirmation suit and my patent sandals.
But I trailed my fingers in the cool green water,
 
Watching the puffins driving homeward
To their nests on Aran. On the Galway mainland
I tiptoed clear of the cow-dunged slipway
And watched my brothers heaving the calves
 
As they lost their footing. We went in the trap,
Myself and my mother, and I said goodbye
To my father then. The last I saw of him
Was a hat and jacket and a salley stick,
 
Driving cattle to Ballyvaughan.
He died (they told me) in the county home,
Asking to see me. But that was later:
As we trotted on through the morning-mist,
 
I saw a car for the first time ever,
Hardly seeing it before it vanished.
I couldn’t believe it, and I stood up looking
To where I could hear its noise departing
 
But it was only a glimpse. That night in the convent
The sisters fussed me, but I couldn’t forget
The morning’s vision, and I fell asleep
With the engine humming through the open window.
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Kilmainham Goal, May 8th, 1916.

Kilmainham, May 8th 1916.
Of all the rebel executed for their part in the Rising, Michael Mallin is, for me, the most intriguing. He served in the British Army, spending a number of years in India. He came home, left the army and married the sweetheart he left behind. At the time of the rebellion, he was the father of four children with a fifth on the way. He was an officer in the Citizens’ Army, founded by James Connolly.
During Easter Week, he was commandant in St. Stephen’s Green/College of Surgeons. But despite his military training, he neglected to take control of the Shelbourne Hotel overlooking the Green, which meant the enemy could take it over and fire down on his small group of rebels which included Countess Markievicz , who was second in command. With the British firing down on them from the hotel, the rebels had to retreat to the Royal College of Surgeons.
When Pearse gave the order to surrender towards the end of the week, it was Mallin as commandant who surrendered to British forces. Yet at his trial, he claimed that he was only a normal soldier, didn’t know James Connolly and that it was, in fact, Countess Markievicz, who commanded the battalion at the Green, not himself. He further claimed that he was only obeying her orders when he led his group of men into position. This is astonishing, as apart from any other consideration, he had to know by claiming this that he was endangering Markievicz ‘s life. Perhaps, he said what he did because he realised he was leaving his wife and children behind without a support and that their lives would be harsh and poverty stricken. That seems to be the common belief now. In fact, later on after his execution, while his wife was in labour with their fifth child, Dublin women opposed to the rebellion because they had family fighting with the British army in France, shouted obscenities outside the hospital to show their disapproval of her executed husband role in the rebellion.
Michael Mallin wrote a poignant letter on the night he died to his wife and family. In it, he expressed the wish that one of his sons, Joseph, might become a priest and that his daughter, Una, become a nun if at all possible. Years later, when the children were grown, both Joseph and Úna entered religious life. His son, Fr. Joseph Mallin, aged 102, lives in Hong Kong where he spent most of his life in missionary work and is the only living child of an executed rebel leader.
One hundred years ago today, in the early hours of May 8th,Michael Mallin, no doubt his mind tormented with the worry of leaving his family impoverished behind him, entered the stone breakers’ yard, for his execution. Éamonn Ceannt, Con Colbert who was born in Castlemahon and Séan Heuston were also killed on May 8

Mary Angland's photo.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shakespeare’s Words in Everyday Use.

‘A Plague on both your Houses’ – Shakespeare in Everyday Use.

Many people have had their schooldays enriched by studying one of Shakespeare’s plays, particularly the more popular ones like Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice for example but even those who felt their lives blighted by the works of the bard, still use phrases and words coined by Shakespeare over 400 hundred years ago. Finding the language of the time inadequate to express his thoughts and emotions he coined new word and phrases, over 3000 of them, many of which have passed into common usage today. So when you find yourself saying any of the following, you can thank Shakespeare for coming up with them. Have you ever been more sinned against than sinning, found that something was Greek to me, asking someone if ‘you have a tongue in your head. Have you ever sent someone packing while muttering good riddance under your breath or threw someone out bag and baggage? If you were ever a laughing stock, gave the devil his due, seen better days, then you’re quoting Shakespeare! (Courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe)

Mary Angland's photo.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Execution of Major John McBride.

100 years ago this week, the executions continued in Kilmainham Goal in Dublin. Shot 100 years ago today was Major John McBride, who was married to, and separated from, the famous Maud Gonne,nationalist and figure of inspiration for the love lorn poet William Butler Yeats who might not have had such a prodigious body of work to leave behind had he not met her!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Shakespeare’s Globe

Shakespeares-Globe-TheatreThis being the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, there is even more interest than usual in his life and works. The original GlobeTheatre where Shakespeare had his plays performed was destroyed in a fire in 1613 when a cannon misfired during a performance of Henry viii and the thatch and wooden beams caught fire. It was rebuilt the following year but closed for good by the Puritans in 1642. The modern Globe in London’s South Bank was opened in 1997 and it mirrors the original to a large extent. In the old days, poorer theatre goers paid one penny to enter the yard surrounding the stage where there were no seats. There they stood, laughing, jeering and cheering the actors during the performances. Today, you can still buy a ticket for the yard for £5, the equivalent of one penny in Shakespeare’s day. Below is the Globe Theatre today.(Photo courtesy of Globe Theatre)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Unsung Heroes

One of the most underestimated and under valued facility we have must surely be our public libraries. This year, you can join for free and up to now, it was a mere E2.50. As little as that and you had the pick of literally thousands of books. I also think our librarians are marvellous, a fountain of knowledge about everything, incredibly obliging and always helpful. So I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to our hard working librarians, particularly Anna, at my local library who does trojan work and the staff in Charleville library as well.Well done, everyone.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized