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    0 2185

    EUGENE DALY continues his series on various aspects of Irish folklore and customs

    The world is a much changed place to what it was in my youth in the 1950s.

    Extensive changes in technology and communication have ended a traditional way of life that had been static for many generations. Without leaving our homes, now we can see and hear about events as they happen in almost every part of our planet.

    New machines and gadgets have brought us more leisure, more ‘free’ time and all this has happened in one short generation.

    However, despite the ease and pleasure provided for us by these changes, they have destroyed many of the old customs of Irish life, particularly Irish rural life.

    The art of conversation within the home and among neighbours around the fire at night is practically gone.

    Places where people met to do business and talked and chatted have practically all disappeared.

    The small shop in the countryside and in the villages and towns has almost disappeared. Most of the rural pubs have closed; the small creameries, the forges, the post offices, the open-air dancing platforms – all have gone. These were the central pillars upon which the survival of rural culture was based. Rural Ireland, for the most part, is a much lonelier place. Many of the young have gone to the cities or emigrated to England, the U.S.A., Australia and elsewhere. For centuries the traditions, customs, stories and beliefs were kept alive by being told over and over again. For example, the poems of Seán Ó Coileáin and other West Cork poets were kept alive orally for generations.

    They were written down in this area by men like Peadar Ó hAnnracháin and Micheal Ó Cuileannáin in the Skibbereen area. The Irish Folklore Commission did much to collect the lore from the old people.

    In the 1930s they had a scheme whereby the teachers and pupils collected a vast amount of folklore – stories, poems, songs, customs, folk cures, weather lore, spirits and fairies, etc. For centuries the people had been deeply religious, cherishing a simple ‘black and white’ faith. Just as their way of life was an endless struggle to survive, the spiritual life was also seen as a struggle of good versus evil, with all good things – good luck – coming from God and misfortune – bad luck – coming from the forces of evil.

    To continue reading please pick up a copy of Ireland’s Own

     

    0 1651

    By Margaret Smith

    Australia’s largest Catholic church, and one which has been described as ‘the finest church building in the country’, owes its origins to an Irishman from County Cork, James Goold.

    He studied for the priesthood in Italy and then volunteered for missionary work in Australia, arriving there in 1838.

    Ten years later, he was appointed Melbourne’s first Catholic Bishop but, as there was no Cathedral in the city, it fell to him to organise the construction of one and on 9th April 1850, he laid the foundation stone of the church on land that had previously been a sheep run.

    Strangely, eight years were to pass before any work took place because gold had been discovered not far away and men from all levels of society left the city in the hope of finding fame and fortune in the goldfields.

    When work did eventually start, Bishop Goold realised that the ever -increasing population of the city meant that the original plans were inadequate and a larger church would be needed. Building work began once again and, after Mass had been celebrated in the partially completed structure, the Bishop then announced that this second church was also going to be inadequate.

    Many of his congregation, along with other citizens, were frustrated at what was described as the annual knocking down and rebuilding of St. Patrick’s. Bishop Goold then announced that the ‘new’ St. Patrick’s was going to be a church ‘worthy of the city’ and help arrived in the shape of William Wilkinson Wardell.

    This thirty-five year old architect had emigrated to Australia from the UK in the hope of improving his failing health.

    The Catholic convert had something of a reputation too, having been responsible for the restoration, or building, of over thirty churches in twelve years. Bishop and architect met and, within a short time, Wardell had produced plans for a cathedral of immense proportions, which was to include – at Bishop Goold’s insistence – parts of the work that had been done on the earlier churches.

    The work was actually greater than anything ever attempted in Australia and would become the largest church built anywhere in the nineteenth century. With contracts signed, work began in December 1858, the same year coincidentally as the other great cathedral dedicated to St. Patrick, that in New York, was begun.

    By 1868 the nave was completed and Masses were being said and the organ was installed in 1880. But, from then on, building work was very slow, almost coming to a halt on a number of occasions due to lack of funds and the economic situation of the country.

    However, John Fitzpatrick, Vicar-General of the Diocese and Dean of the Cathedral, cajoled the people with his regular exhortation that “it is God’s work, it cannot be stopped,” whilst Wardell himself reminded people that this was to be a “building for all time and for “generations yet unborn”.

    Eventually, on 27th October, 1897, the building, which had cost over £200,000 sterling, was consecrated. Much work still remained though. In the twenty years after the consecration, the cathedral’s interior decoration was completed largely in accordance with Wardell’s plans. Work went ahead on the three spires during the 1930’s with the main spire surmounted by a cross six metres high, a gift from the Irish government in 1938.

    Many are somewhat surprised by the lack of stained glass here, apart from that in the chapels and sanctuary. The remaining windows, with either ‘amber’ or ‘cathedral’ glass, allow light through which actually beautifies the interior.

    The original main door, considered too narrow for ceremonial processions, was replaced by a wider one. Today’s Cathedral is 340 feet long and 350 feet high, making it the tallest church in Australia. Sadly, Bishop Goold never saw ‘his’ Cathedral completed as he died in 1886, but he is buried in the Holy Soul’s Chapel, along with Dean John Fitzpatrick. It was perhaps appropriate that his successor should be another Irishman, Thomas Joseph Carr.

    This former Bishop of Galway was not initially happy at this new appointment but he carried out his duties with a quiet determination and enthusiasm that quickly gained him the respect and love of his congregation. Indeed, within ten years of his arrival, the cathedral was free of debt.

    Wardell, who was also responsible for St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, saw the completion of this Cathedral and even when he died in 1899 he was still working on designs for other ecclesiastical buildings. There are numerous Irish connections both inside and outside this building.

    Its two Irish Bishops lie inside, Bishop Goold in the Holy Soul’s Chapel and Bishop Carr in the Sacred Heart Chapel. Outside, in the grounds, is a statue of the man whose success in the 1928 County Clare election led to the attainment of Catholic Emancipation, Daniel O’Connell, better known as ‘the Liberator’. 

    Read more articles like this in your weekly Ireland’s Own

    0 2107

    Daughter, sister, friend, actress, singer, dancer, international recording star, producer, T.V. and radio presenter and first lady of hit musicals, Elaine Paige has done it all and this year is celebrating fifty fabulous years in show business . . . and she’s coming to Ireland, writes Amanda Bell

    A star was born on the 5th of March, 1948, to Eric and Irene Bickerstaff from Barnett, North London.

    The precious baby girl cradled in her mother’s arms was called Elaine Jill Bickerstaff.

    She would go on to some day be known as the first lady of musicals and become a worldwide star, though they could not have known this at the time.

    Elaine was doted on by all the family especially her older sister Marion, whom she is still very close to today.

    Barnett is filled with many fond memories for Elaine.

    Her dad worked as an estate agent and was also a drummer who played in a dance band at weekends.

    Her mum was a gifted milliner who loved to sing as she worked on many beautiful creations.

    To this day Miss Paige cannot pass a hat shop by without stopping to take a look.

    Being surrounded by music, fashion and the family’s interest in the theatre was to become a big influence on her growing up.

    During secondary school the talented young girl enjoyed playing sport and had a very keen interest in singing and drama.

    Elaine loved to play tennis at school and at one stage thought she might like take it up professionally. That was until someone at school made a joke and said “you won’t see over the net Elaine” and that put paid to that idea.

    Even then Elaine was a petite beauty. She is just 4ft 11” in height. The wonderful thing about Elaine Paige is she doesn’t let a thing like size hold her back and laughed it off and has done ever since.

    In fact her size was to lead to her getting some prize roles during her career, as many of the characters she played were diminutive in stature also.

    Elaine has the most wonderful sense of humour and she herself is the first to crack a joke about how tall she is. Never one to be deterred, Elaine still plays tennis today and loves it.

    During her final years at school her career ideas where changing as soon as she discovered drama classes. After getting a role in the school production of a Mozart comic opera, she completely threw herself in to the role, so much so that when she sang the mezzo soprano role of Bastienne she added in her own extra piece of drama for good measure.

    During the sad part of the song she sank to her knees and sobbed for real. The audience was mesmerised. Elaine’s parents were in the audience too and they knew their daughter should be encouraged in her talent. It was soon after that outstanding performance that she was enrolled at the Aida Foster Theatre School.

    There she excelled as a student in song, dance and drama. After finishing drama school she auditioned for many roles and, as any actor will tell you, there is no such thing as overnight success. It takes time, as Elaine found out.

    She acted in commercials, was one of the many dancers in the film Oliver and also was in many chorus lines in many shows until she got her first break. This experience was to stand to her greatly.

    The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd was her first big audition. She was naturally nervous and still very young, so it was rather overwhelming standing there alone singing into the darkness of an empty theatre whilst knowing somewhere sitting in one of rows of seats, was a director listening to you and watching your every move on stage.

    The song she sang didn’t go as well as she wanted and the director called “next”. However Elaine and her agent knew the part was made for her and with a bit more confidence and practice she could certainly nail it.

    The problem was she already auditioned for the part using her real name Elaine Bickerstaff, as that was what she was known as then. So a new stage name was needed so she could reapply. That night Elaine flicked through the phonebook looking for inspiration. Then she realised what she was doing i.e. turning ‘pages. So she did a spelling change on the name Page and added an i.

    From that night on Elaine Bickerstaff became Elaine Paige. This was to be her new stage name forever after. The next day it was Elaine Paige who auditioned for the role she had tried the day before, but with new found self-confidence and a well-practiced piece, the song was a winner and won her the part.

    To continue reading please pick up a copy of Ireland’s Own

      0 1135

      TOM NESTOR recalls the battle of wills between his parents over what use the new barrel would be put to

      My father bought the barrel at an auction, so cheap that he couldn’t turn it down.

      It lay in the outhouse for several years as he figured out what to do with it.

      It was my mother who suggested that he place it near the back door where it could be easily accessed. But for what reason he wanted to know.

      ‘Twas he who bought the barrel and therefore should have some say as to how it might be used.

      My mother had many uses for a supply of water at her back door and could find many others if put to the test.

      There was an orchard on the western side of the house and a wall enclosing it.

      One end, near the back door, was left open to ease the coming and going of the household and there were many.

      Most walking journeys began from there, walking to school, running errands to Maggie Barrett’s shop, heading at evening time to Dunne’s hurling field, and most often, slipping away quietly, all of us expert, to avoid the drudge of hated chores.

      Trouble was that once one passed through the opening you also passed by the kitchen window looking west.

      My mother had an invisible eye in her forehead according to the lore of many failures.

      So, even before you had passed by the rain barrel, you dropped into a simian position and didn’t stand upright again until the step to the fields was reached.

      My father, though he would never accept it, had bought that barrel for a myriad of purposes, some vital, some useful, some grandiose with their full flow of imagination.

      Perhaps that was why he paid little attention to their creation until the woman of the house made up her mind and destroyed every one of his intentions, the low blown and the high blown, some ordinary, some soaring with make believe.

      It was the sudden declaration that a water container, right beside the house, was a primal necessity, capable of solving many existing problems in one fell swoop, that destroyed his vaunted mythical ambitions.

      Even if he just left it in the spare stall in the cow byre, the process of imagining and the fall out therefrom, whiled away many a dreary day in meadow or garden. And probably that was why the vision that my mother had was never put in place.

      Her idea was that a tap would convert that water barrel from something useful to something soaring with possibilities. A tap, placed near the bottom, spilling water into basins and pails by the simplest of all actions, the law of gravity. Or, to put it another way, as it was frequented quoted in that part of the world, everything that goes up has to come down.

      What a boon it would be, almost nothing in expense, and it wouldn’t require someone with a degree in mathematics, engineering, or nuclear physics, to drill a small hole near the bottom and fix on the brass coloured tap with a few screws.

      Think of it. The thought was reminded of, time and again, morning noon and night, after the dinner, after the weather forecast on the radio. And later on again, as the silence enveloped the kitchen and its occupants, she would raise her head from a book she was reading after supper, as if something within it had stoked her remembrance, and wondered, sotto voce, and to no one in particular, when was the tap to be installed.

      My father nodded, as if the very same notion had occurred to him, the man of the house, and if a stranger mistook what sounded like acquiesce, he or she would be far from the reality. If asking was failing she then resorted to strategy. There was idle moments when we were all gathered together, particularly late in the evening.

      The boss man was sitting in his favourite chair in what we called Barrett’s side, our neighbours within calling distance, lower lip over the top one as if he was unravelling some obscure mathematical problem.

      She would subtly make her case for the barrel with a tap, sending it forth in an entirely innocent observation. We were in a dry spell. For weeks the sky was cloudless. She had read somewhere that a clear cloudless daytime sky is blue because the molecules in the air scatter more blue light from the sun than they scatter red light.

      My father looked up with a deliberate puzzled face and offered his usual rejoinder, “Is that a fact now. Fancy that?” The beauty about that response was that no one was certain of its interpretation.

      The man who uttered the phrase could spin it into several possibilities, as if it were some strange language that every now and then morphed into another form or forms. But the lady wasn’t done yet.

      The water in the barrel had gone low. It made filling awkward. A body had to reach down to the bottom with a bucket and then tilt the barrel before that body could fill.

      And another thing that was a problem, whether the sky had more blue light than red light or no light at all, was the effort of hauling up a filled bucket and hoisting over the rim. And there was another thing that needed a different solution all together.

      Many times lately the barrel had been become the repository of the larger birds, pigeons and jackdaws and crows, which relieved themselves as they passed by overhead. Why don’t you throw something over it, the man said, one of my old coats in the barn. He offered the solution as if it was the product of long hours and a host of prototypes in the making. And that was that. My mother returned to her book. My father reached behind for a Gold Flake cigarette, lit up, inhaled and exhaled, as if the problem had been permantely put to bed.

      Secretly I hoped that the tap would never be installed. I had this strange notion, though I had no reason why, that somehow it would change my habits irrevocably and cause me trouble. I had a wild head, full of blonde, wiry hair in those days, that refused to lie down unless compelled to. I was too young to douse it with hair oil.

      A youngster like me, smearing on Brlycreem, was unheard of. So, every morning on my way to school, I wetted the comb in the water barrel and pulled it through several times until the hair sat flat. And I wasn’t alone in that solution. I could tell that my class mates did likewise though they wouldn’t admit. I could see the water smear on the hair that appeared when it dried out.

      More often than not I washed my face from that barrel, bringing forth water in my cupped hands. No soap. Soap was for sissies. Anyway it was fraught with danger. Very easily the soap would slip from the hands and settle itself, as if that was its calling, in the bottom of the barrel.

      And once, on a Sunday, my father was walking the fields, my mother had gone to an ICA excursion, this out of nowhere mad notion appeared to me.

      It wasn’t warm enough to go bathing, but the notion kept daring me to do so. So I threw off the clothes, naked as the day I came into the world, and lowered myself into the barrel. I splashed like a hippopotamus at a water hole, imagined that I was the first boy of Great Britain and Ireland who swam the channel. I swam until my fingers started to go blue. 

        0 1473

        Patrick O’Sullivan writes about the introduction of card games into Irish society

        It was not until the 15th and 16th centuries that the playing of cards was introduced into Ireland by English settlers.

        Elizabethan writers such as Edmund Campion and the poet Edmund Spenser were severely critical however of those professional gamblers who lay in wait for unsuspecting travellers by the wayside.

        They invited the travellers to a game of cards, wagering everything from money to clothes, even their own hair on the outcome of the game.

        The popular Irish term for a gambler was ‘cearrbhach,’ one of the most celebrated stories being that of ‘An Cearrbhach MacCaba,’ who traded his soul for skill at card playing.

        The very early Irish myths reveal that it was the game of ‘fidchell,’ a game like chess which was popular amongst the nobles then. There were many tales of enchanted strangers coming to play fidchell with a chieftain or king, forcing them to honour some pledge that they made, when they eventually lost the game. In one story, for instance, the God, Midir, comes to play fidchell with the High King, Eochaid Airemh.

        When Eochaid says that his board is in the queen’s room and that she is still asleep, Midir produces his own silver board with men and gold and bronze.

        It is interesting to note that in later folklore, cards are substituted for chess in stories of enchanted strangers and wagers. The playing of cards for a small stake, such as a duck or goose or turkey, was very much a popular pastime in the rural Ireland of yesteryear. It was a society on the edge of television and, as such, still looked to itself, to its own resources for sports and pastimes and games. It was a society that knew little or nothing of cynicism and so not only allowed for, but revelled in, the possibility of wonder and magic and things beyond the ordinary.

        If the latter found expression in storytelling, then the game of cards was in a very real sense a token of community and friendship and togetherness too. I remember an old country kitchen, the firelight leaping and shining in the great open hearth, the scent of the logs woody and green, the heavy measured beat of the clock filling the stillness again.

        Then the kitchen filling up with people, the voices jovial, good humoured, full of the promise of things to come, the orange of the flames gleaming and glowing more brightly still. We did not think of it then, but the fragrance of the logs and the rhythm of the clock and the warmth of the voices had a magic all of its own. It was in a way like the music, the sweet incidental music of childhood, that finds echoes in memory still. It was the time of year when the harvest was gathered, the day of the thresher and the bagging of the grain remembered with pleasure again.

        The favourite game was thirty one, a variant of the five card game, the game for the duck or goose, generally preceded by a game or two for lesser prizes, when the wager might be sixpence or a shilling per player.

        Still the firelight swam in the old blue willowware on the dresser; outside the moonlight slanting across hedge and field and old boreen, the curlews calling in the bay beyond.

        Those who played cards believed in good luck, luck which might stem from such seemingly innocuous things as the way the cards were shuffled, or cut, or dealt.

        All of these were rituals of significance to the game. If a woman sat knitting or sewing behind a player she was sure to bring him good luck, but such a tradition was too well-know for it to go unnoticed. It might have been the luck of the needle for even a needle stuck in a player’s clothes without his knowledge was another guarantee of good fortune.

        It was very much a social occasion, however, the making of the tea part of the ritual. Then there was the boiling of the kettle, the latter suspended above the orange of the flames, the clink of cups and saucers, taken as they were from dresser or cupboard, the jingle of spoons.

        There was soda bread and butter and jam, but generally there were treats such as apple pie or barm brack, even seed loaf or butter loaf such as might be found the morning of the stations. The conversation was homely homespun.

        After the tea and the chat, it was back to the serious business of the game, the pendulum swinging unerringly still, the friendly old sheepdog half asleep by the fire. It was late enough when the company broke up at last, the last of the stragglers making their way home down old boreens and tracks, the curlews calling still in the moonlit bay beyond. 

        0 1856

        gaafactsWe receive a lot of books here at the Ireland’s Own office and this week the new offering from GAA supremo Eddie Ryan gets our vote. The ideal present for the GAA fanatics in your life. 

        Did you know that in 1924, Mick Gill created history by winning two All-Ireland Senior Hurling medals in the same year and for different counties? Jack Lynch is the only player in GAA history to have won six successive All-Ireland medals (five in hurling). The 2013 All-Ireland Hurling Final was the first to be played under flood-lights, exactly 100 years after Croke Park was first purchased. Do you know the name of every inter-county ground in Ireland? Who was full forward on the team of the Millennium? Who was the 1,000th All Star Award winner? In “The Little Book of GAA Facts”, Eddie Ryan has gathered together a treasure trove of knowledge about a nation’s passion. The book charts the history of Gaelic games, blending amazing stories and unique facts, records and outstanding achievements.

        Available in bookstores nationwide and online from www.mercierpress.ie

          0 1718

          Read John Fogarty’s short story “Fallen Heroes” which was published in a recent issue of Ireland’s Owntranny

          Mamie Mackey was at the half-door of her house on The Valley, listening to the match, radio going full blast behind her.

          Micheal O’Hehir’s voice, hoarse, frantic with excitement, rising and falling with the rhythm of the game, came over the half-door in electrifying bursts, sending an invisible charge through the sleepy air of that Sunday afternoon.

          That famous voice was compelling us to listen – always above and distinct from the constant roar of the crowd in the background, yet part of it too.

          Names flew past us as we paused, Judo and I, at the door – Carey, Doyle, Devaney, Kiely, Maher, McKenna, Wall; names burned like brands into our consciousness.

          The mighty men of Tipperary, Micheal O’Hehir called them. But on that Sunday afternoon the mighty men were in trouble. And Waterford men with unfamiliar names were the cause: Barron, Condon, Grimes, Meaney, Power, Walsh. Who the hell were those lads, I wondered?

          ‘They’re going to be bet, they’re going to be feckin well bet,’ Mamie said, drawing the last pull from the butt of a Woodbine.

          This wasn’t meant to be happening. Our heroes weren’t meant to be in trouble.

          If it was Cork, yes, then it would be really hard, touch and go to the end, to the very last puck. But it wasn’t, it was just Waterford.

          It was the last Sunday in July, 1963, the Munster hurling final day. Tipp always won Munster finals, especially when they were playing teams like Waterford.

          For as long as I could remember Tipp on the radio winning titanic hurling matches had been part of every summer, mostly against Cork.

          No other games sent a charge through the summer air like Tipp and Cork. Not today, though. Mamie gripped the rim of the half-door. ‘Nothing but feckin wides in the first half, they’re three points behind now and it nearly over,’ she said, lighting another Woodbine with shaking hand. Without a word Judo and I turned away.

          Paddy Kearney was leaning on his half-door too, the match blaring from the gloom of his kitchen.

          ‘They’re not so goddamn hot today, eh, they met their match today all right,’ he said.

          A dart of resentment shot through me. I’d assumed that this would be another routine day for our heroes in Blue and Gold. But now, when it seemed they were going to be beaten, Paddy’s words sounded like betrayal.

          ‘A sour aul fecker,’ I said. ‘He’s only an aul’ returned Yank, sure what would he know about hurling,’ Judo said.

          We moved on. The sound of the game faded behind us, then began to rise ahead of us again as we approached the Capitol cinema. Men in white shirts, sleeves rolled up, were gathered round a transistor that seemed to vibrate on the steps of the cinema such was the intensity of what it was relaying.

          It was strange, seeing it, the ‘tranny’, small on the steps, the men tall, eyes fixed on it – the almost unbearable tension that seemed to thicken the air around them. They leaned over it, rigid, a kind of desperation in their poses.

          Trying to visualise what was happening in a field far away in Limerick, the Gaelic Grounds, where things were not going Tipp’s way. There on the steps, far from the action, they willed their team on, seeing in their mind’s eye the dusty field, the packed, heaving crowds, the straining bodies in blue and gold; our blue and gold heroes who were going for the three in a row.

          ‘Arrah, feck Devaney, an open goal and you missed!’ Johnny Casey straightened, twisted away, stamped, slammed his cap on the ground, clapped his hands in frustration as O’Hehir described a series of misses by the Tipperary forwards: first came a surge of hope that had the men straightening in anticipation as Larry Kiely burst through onto the Waterford goal. This was it, Kiely had done it before; they teetered on the verge of ecstasy, they were going to snatch it at the end.

          ‘C’mon, Kiely c’mon, will ya.’ ‘Let fly, willya, let fly.’ ‘Bury it, bury the friggin’ thing.’ In that far field they picture Kiely’s action as he lets fly; they straighten, gather themselves for a great, relieving celebration, expecting a certain goal, anticipating the dance and shake of the net .. but no, no, no, he hits the post. They groan, they wilt; the roar of the crowd intensifies until it seems the tranny must explode . ‘For feck’s sake.’ ‘Ah Mother o’God.’ ‘No, no, no,’ screams O’Hehir in disbelief, ‘but wait, wait, the sliotar rebounds to Donie Nealon, he has it, he must score, it must be a goal .’

          Again they straighten, grip one another, suspended in a brief agony of expectation, waiting to erupt, imagining Nealon swinging, striking, again the ripple of the net as the sliotar blurs past the goalie. NEALON STRIKES. ‘But no, no, no, it flies back off the other post..’ They are deflated, desperate once more.. ‘Ah bloody hell.’ ‘What’s wrong with ye?’ ‘But wait, wait,’ screams O’Hehir once more, ‘it comes to Liam Devaney, in front of an open goal …’ again the men grab one another, hope revived, this is it, it has to be, because Devaney the assassin never misses, they are almost in the act of jumping, clenched fists reaching skyward.

          Devaney whips first time, unbelievably the sliotar flies over the bar. ‘Dear, oh dear, it’s over, it’s gone over the bar, it’s a point, a point for Tipperary,’ O’Hehir says, emphatically, with finality. There will be no release, no escape. They slump in dejection, hope snatched away, dreams destroyed, limp and spent from the almost unbearable tension and excitement that has ravaged them in the final minutes of the game.

          The match ends. ‘Oh what a game, what a game’, O’Hehir shouts, ‘here at the Gaelic Grounds it ends Waterford eleven points, Tipperary eight, and the All-Ireland champions are out. Each word is like a coffin-nail piercing our hopes and dreams. A mini-hurricane of voices roars in one continuous cacophony of sound from the tranny. We are beaten, gone. The mighty men of Tipperary, banished . . . Out of the championship. Johnny Casey switches the tranny off. There is silence, we readjust, come back to the world around us again. Now we hear other sounds: crows on the wires overhead, voices from the cinema.

          Everything within me droops, dies. I hadn’t listened to most of the match, I’d only heard the last fifteen minutes or so. I’d been looking forward to Pick of the Pops later on, but now. now it didn’t matter. The men are silent for long seconds, speechless, look at one another in shock, then all talk at once, bewildered, trying to make sense of it. ‘That Kiely should have buried it..’ ‘Too much made of that fella …’ But shur Nealon.’ ‘And as for that Devaney.’ ‘No, no, no, I’m telling ye, Kiely should have buried it the first time.’ They range back over the happenings of the game, talking, talking, going over and over the same detail, like a bereaved person going over the last hours of their beloved’s life.

          Eventually they separate and walk away. Tipp’s summer of hurling is over. Later, after the evening devotions, Judo and I linger on the steps of the parish church. Every summer Sunday evening there is a gathering of men outside the church after the devotions. They meet to discuss the day, especially hurling and football matches, club and county. The shock and disbelief from earlier in the day has been replaced by anger. ‘They’ll be no three in a row now,’ says Bully, the bicycle man. ‘They’re not a patch on that forty-nine team, not a patch.’ ‘They lost it on the line…’ ‘Leahy should uv made changes, sure Doyle is past it, he’s gone…’ ‘There’s not another All-Ireland in that team.’

          On they go, couching their disappointment in criticism of players, selectors, referee: they should have taken this lad off, put that lad on, this lad should have been switched, another fella shouldn’t have started. On it went for ages until Dineen, a Corkman, who rejoices loudly in any hurling setbacks suffered by Tipp, steps unsteadily from McCarthy’s hotel across the street. ‘Would ya look at who’s coming,’ Jack Ryan says. Dineen puffs himself up, beams over at the gathering.

          They stare back, there is no escape. ‘Were ye saying a few prayers for ‘em, were ye? Well, yeer wasting yeer time ‘cos that Tipp’rary team ud bate nothing,’ Dineen shouts. ‘Nothing, that’s what they’d bate, feck-all, a crowd of aul’ women, they wouldn’t bate eggs.’ ‘We bet Cork, didn’t we,’ Bully shouts back. ‘Tis Waterford ye were playing today. I’m telling ye they wouldn’t bate a drum, so they wouldn’t, where’s yeer three in a row now, hah? ‘Arrah go home to bed willya,’ says Bully. ‘What about the three in a row now, hah? yeer gone, finished, ’tis gonta be a long summer for ye now, and a longer winter, c’mon the Deise.’ He moves off.

          He turns as he is about to go in to the Bridge Bar and roars his parting shot. ‘Ye’d be better off coming in here for a few instead of hanging around the chapel gates. ‘Tis off to Lourdes ye should send that useless crowd – g’wan the Blood and Bandage.’ They have no answers now, there is nothing they can say, they can only listen and endure: another long winter will have to pass before there is a chance of redemption.

          Later as we make our way down past the Bridge Bar to sit on the cinema wall we hear Dineen singing ecstatically inside, mangling ‘The Banks of my own lovely Lee: ‘Hoo.oow oft do my thoughts in their fanceee take flight, To the home of my childhood awaaaay’. Cork haven’t won anything – but neither have Tipp. 

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            Arthur Flynn remembers the classic film based on the life of Christy Brown

            A project that obsessed theatre producer Noel Pearson for many years was to bring the life of the disabled Dublin writer, Christy Brown, who could write and paint with his left foot, to the screen.

            He realised it would be a tough unenviable project but persevered.

            Pearson set about commissioning a script and assigned a leading Dublin theatre director, Jim Sheridan and Shane Connaughton the task.

            While working on the script based on Christy’s book, My Left Foot, Sheridan became desperate to direct it.

            He had never directed a film before, but pleaded with Pearson.

            Pearson had enough confidence in him and put him in charge of the £1.7 million film.

            The film was a co-production of a number of companies including Granada Films, Miramax Films, Ferndale Films and Radio Telefis Eireann.

            The central role was played by Daniel Day-Lewis who spent months in preparation and remained in character throughout the entire production, impressing cast and crew by his absorption in the part.

            Daniel was so committed to the role that he acted out the opening scene, as we see it in the film, on the first take.

            Hugh O’Conor played Christy as a boy, with Ray McAnally and Brenda Fricker as his parents.

            Other members of the cast included Ruth McCabe as Mary, Fiona Shaw as Dr. Eileen Crow, Emma MacLiam as Benny and Cyril Cusack as Lord Castlewelland.

            Pearson and Sheridan lined up a strong production team headed by Jack Conroy as cinematographer, J. Patrick Duffner as Editor and musical score by the Oscar winning Elmer Bernstein.

            The film was a bio-drama about Christy Brown, the man who was born a spastic quadriplegic into a large, poor Irish family living in a Dublin slum.

            One day when he is ten Christy uses his left foot to write the word ‘mother’ on the floor with a piece of chalk. His mother, Mrs Brown, recognises the intelligence and humanity in the lad everyone else regards as a vegetable.

            Eventually, with guidance, Christy matures into a cantankerous writer and artist who uses his only functional limb, his left foot, to write and paint with. He also meets a nurse name Mary Carr, the love of his life who appreciates his talents.

            The film intercut flashbacks of his formative years in the squashed house and playing on the streets of Dublin with scenes at a stately home, Kilruddery House, the home of Lord Castlewelland.

            My Left Foot was shot in seven weeks in Ardmore Studios, Bray, Co. Wicklow and on location mainly in the Bray area. Many of the scenes wee filmed through a mirror, as Day-Lewis could only manipulate his right foot to perform the actions seen in the film.

            He was so much into character that he broke two ribs during filming from assuming the hunched over position in his wheelchair for weeks of filming. He also refused to come out of character.

            On visits to the canteen, other people would have to assist him with food. He insisted on remaining in his wheelchair during takes.

            The film was very well received worldwide by critics and audiences alike.

            Miramax saw the potential of the film and took over worldwide distribution.

            They spent over three times the film production budget on its publicity campaign to get the film notices for Oscar nomination.

            Their faith paid off. Day-Lewis was praised for his portrayal of Brown. One critic wrote: ‘the triumph of an actor who did not act but became his character’. My Left Foot earned him his first Academy Award for Best Actor.

            Brenda Fricker also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Role for her role of Mrs Brown.

            Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot is a riveting unsentimental bio-drama about Christy Brown, the man who was born with cerebral Palsy in a Dublin slum and became an artist and write of note.

            Daniel Day-Lewis and Jim Sheridan were successfully reunited again for two other Irish based films – In the Name of the Father and The Boxer. Day-Lewis gave outstanding performances in both films.

            Today Daniel Day-Lewis, son of the poet Cecil Day-Lewis, is one of the world’s best and most versatile actors and has picked up another Oscar for his lead role in Lincoln. He lives in Annamoe, County Wicklow. 

            A Trick of the Trade

            Miss Flanagan was horrified at what she was hearing after returning from her short Autumn break.

            Winnie Burke’s beau, 69-year-old newcomer to the area, Harry Beresford, had been accused of robbing a house half a mile away from Winnie’s house.

            He was seen on his bicycle in the vicinity of the house by Benford native, Teresa Cunningham.

            “Winnie’s in bits,” Essie Corcoran told her friend, Miss Flanagan, over the corner shop counter. “Apparently, apart from Teresa spotting Harry getting away in a hurry on his bike a bit of that chewing gum – you know the stuff that people chew to help them stop smoking – was found in Tom Rafferty’s house and they’re saying it was definitely Harry’s so it’s looking like he hasn’t a leg to stand on. He’s denying it, of course, and Winnie doesn’t know what to believe, and her planning on marrying him! She’d want to be thinking twice, I’d say!” “It looks like I haven’t come back a minute too soon,” Miss Flanagan said, concerned.

            Her opinion of Harry, someone that she’d met on only two occasions, was that he was a big teddybear of a man.

            This accusation just didn’t fit. Just then her phone rang. It was Winnie Burke. “Thank God you’re back, Brigid. Please come over straight away.”

            Miss Flanagan rang her friend, Sergeant Reilly, before she hopped on her bike. “Can’t tell you much, Brigid, but you have it right – Harry Beresford was seen and the forensics are tying him to the place. A good bit of jewellery was stolen so it’s considerable enough of a theft.” Harry was at Winnie’s house when she got there, along with Winnie’s nephew, Cecil, and Cecil’s girlfriend, Dot. Harry was looking very downcast. “I can’t believe it – that anyone would think I’d do such a dreadful thing! I’d never rob anyone!” “You have to find out who did, Brigid, so that everyone will know that Harry didn’t do it,” Winnie said.

            Miss Flanagan took copious notes. No, Harry had no alibi for the morning of the robbery. He was at his own house in the village he said and had stayed in bed late as he had a cold. The first thing he knew about the robbery was when the Gardai turned up at his door. “It’s a mess all right,” Cecil Burke said. “Nothing’s worse than being accused in the wrong.” “Bummer, yeah,” said Dot, his girlfriend.

            At least Harry had support from Winnie and her family. It would be important that people believed him until she could sort this out properly. “I will certainly try to do all I can,” she said, before leaving for the witness, Teresa Cunningham’s house. “It was him all right,” Teresa said. “You’re sure? Perhaps you’d tell me exactly what you told the Gardai?” “Certainly. I was coming home from Kilmullen after leaving my daughter to school like I do every morning and as I approached the Rafferty’s house I saw that English man, Harry Beresford, cycling out of the entrance, at speed, and up the road. I’d have known him anywhere. Who else is that stout build, has side-locks and wears them tweedy-looking trousers tucked into his socks?” “You saw his face?” Teresa now looked a bit flustered. “Well, not exactly, he was wearing that cycling helmet of his and his glasses! Of course it was him!”

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            Mary Hogan visits an oasis of peace, calm and tranquility

            Raphael’s Healing Garden in the Church grounds at Oylegate, Co. Wexford is an oasis of peace, calm, tranquility and, above all, healing.

            This magnificent, ivy-covered walled garden, neglected and derelict for years, overgrown with brambles and weeds, is now alive with lush shrubbery, roses and flowers.

            A water-fall, a small river, and a bridge enhance the feeling of serenity experienced there.

            The central message of the sculptures erected there conveys the necessity of embracing and accepting the wide variety of challenges which confront us all as we journey through life, instead of fighting and struggling against them.

            It is only through this process that we are healed – certainly mentally, although countless people have attested to physical healing.

            The three sculptors at the Garden – by local artist Ciarán O’Brien – show Tobias, son of Topit, from the Old Testament. Travelling on a long journey to seek healing for his blind father, Tobias is, unknowingly, accompanied by the Archangel Raphael. When he stopped to bathe his feet at the river Tigris, an enormous fish attacked and tried to devour him.

            He was frantically fighting off the fish when the Archangel Raphael actually appeared. He instructed Tobias to grasp the fish, which was huge.

            This statue of Tobias, who is sitting down, holding the massive fish – much bigger than he – represents that the dreadful occurrences in life which engulf us have got to be grasped and accepted. The third sculpture is of Tobias’s little dog, who ‘insists’ on following both Tobias and Raphael.

            This expresses both the bad and the good experiences which follow us in life and the traits which we dislike both in ourselves and others – darkness and light.

            There is a sheltered shrine where one may light candles to Raphael. On the stone walls are framed explanations of this highly-symbolic garden.

            Small bottles of The Archangel Raphael’s Healing Oil may be purchased.

            Wooden benches provide rest for prayer and reflection and the enfolding sense of peace is tangible. In the wake of the Ferns Report, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, Eamonn Walsh, whilst acting Bishop of Ferns, discussed with Fr. Jim Cogley, P. P. of Oylgate, the necessity of creating a symbolic place of healing and reconciliation. Fr. Cogley had previously initiated the development of the Remembrance Garden in Kilmore Quay and the World War II Bombing Memorial in Campile, Co. Wexford.

            He willingly took Bishop Walsh’s suggestion on board and instigated the Healing Garden, supported by the community of Oylegate/Glenbrien parish.

            When Bishop Walsh formally opened the Healing Garden in 2012, he said that we “live in a world of great noise but if we listen only to the noise outside and not the voice within, there’s a piece missing.” Separate from the Healing Garden, and within the Church grounds, there is a poignant Memorial to all our babies who have died – whether through miscarriage, still-birth, abortion and those who died in infancy. Bog-oak carvings, again highly symbolic, feature throughout both Gardens.

            Fr. Jim Cogley and the people of Oylegate/Glenbrien are to be applauded for bringing Bishop Walsh’s vision to fruition and for providing us with a precious, sacred space in the world in which we live. 

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