Bin Day

Today is Pension Day again. A day of great excitement in the parish. All the old folks are flushed with Euros, and the taverns are a-jumping. Well, they are until about 6pm when the OAP’s need a lie-down.

Friday is also Bin Day – my particular highlight of the week. To see a big truck on our single-track lane is quite exciting, only beaten by Nathy’s heating oil tanker which (thankfully) calls less frequently – especially if it’s the 6,000 gallon monster, totally unsuitable for South Sligo’s winding farm tracks.

Our local arrangement, trash-wise, is that we have alternate collection weeks for our two types of waste produce; domestic rubbish and recyclables. Today is recyclable rubbish day which is called The Green Bin Day – and that means putting out the blue wheelie bin. And of course, next Friday is a Black Bin Day for the landfill stuff, and that means we must all put out our green-coloured bins. Only in Ireland could such a simple and memorable system have been developed.

Dividing waste up into landfill and recyclable is a fairly new exercise in the west of Ireland. I often wonder if the local licensed waste carriers are as regimented as our old Bin Wagon service was over in Dublin. Over in the capital city, the Bin Man called every week to empty not one but three separate wheelie bins containing trash carefully divided up by each householder. There was landfill domestic, recyclables and also garden waste. However, I noticed that, each week, our Dublin bin man simply emptied all three bins into the same compartment at the rear of his huge truck. Having observed this, one time (after a house party) I placed some empty bottles into the garden waste bin. Later on in the week I was reprimanded by our conscientious bin man with an East European accent: “No bottle in garden,” he lectured.

“Just this once, please,” I pleaded. He reluctantly agreed, and then tossed the contents of all three bins into the landfill crusher of his shiny wagon. I waved him off, vowing to never break the (environ)mental rules again.


Sheep Fancying

Compared to the chill of the Galician mountains, the west of Ireland has been unseasonably warm and dry. About time too – and perfect for the weekend Festival festivities.
I bet you are dying to know what happened on Sat & Sun [wot d’ya mean, no?], and I wish I could tell you. It wasn’t just the Friday night introduction of Blur, it was the onset of exhaustion which put me out of action for a while. I just couldn’t raise myself from the couch on Saturday evening, especially after Blackburn Rovers conceded yet another late equaliser.

Apparently you cannot play “live” music for 24 hours non-stop during a weekend festival. There has to be a minimum one hour’s break, for some daft reason. So Friday officially ended at 6am – and Saturday’s session started at 7am. Considering that Tony Marren led the opening musical ensemble at 10pm on Friday night, we must congratulate him that he also closed the Day 1 show only a few minutes past six o’clock the following morning. Then the musicians had a drink.

I was informed that Saturday saw a conveyor-belt load of renowned Irish trad music stars for the unplugged section of the festival. The tin whistles started dead on 7am, and rarely stopped during the next 24 hours. In fact, I’m told that some fiddling went on beyond the 6am Sunday morning curfew. It was gone seven o’clock when the last diddly-dee-er passed out. Hughie told me that he was very annoyed when he went down to the village on his tractor, a little earlier than normal, for his pre-Mass Sunday morning pint, only to find the Cock locked up. He said he could see about a dozen prostrate bodies through the frosted glass of the main bar-room window – but they were well out of it. No-one answered his desperate calls to “open the shop”. He told me that it was nearly “chihuahuas!” before the first corpse returned to life. Lazarus gave him a pint of Guinness, and then went back to sleep on the bar top.

I had stopped in, recovering in front of the TV on Saturday evening. Good decision. A respectable Sligo family were on Family Fortunes up against some Dublin gangsters. Mincin’ Alan’s first tough question: “Name something you’d find in a newsagents?” The Sligo captain jumped straight in with “newspapers”, and control of the board. Up Sligeach! Next Sligo family member says, “Fruit and veg.” UH-OH!! It’s not on the board. Now – that’s not as stupid as it sounds. Every rural newsagents in Sligo sells fruit and veg. Our Tom in Killybacside sells tractor parts alongside the Irish Times … and local fruit and veg … and ear muffs. All the typical things you might need to get through the day.
The Sligo crowd were in the lead until Alan the Mincer threw in his usual cringe-worthy question: “Name something you sit on?” Our county representatives came up with chair, couch, stool, etc – but then got stuck. Over to the Dubs, who all delighted in taking their turn saying “Yer arse, yer arse, yer arse – Alan”. The Sligo churchgoers were flummoxed.
Alan says, “Let’s see if yer arse is on the board. Yes! It’s there – on the bottom.” Is this show scripted?

Fell asleep. Woke up bright and early Sunday, raring to go. Heard that some attractive black faced mountain breeds were descending into the valley. Old Uncle John wanted to see these too – but he thought they were going to be grown-up African babies. Some said that the beauty pageant was fixed. Young Odhran O’Connell’s fleecy ram swept the board, winning some Worm Drench and a bag of nuts. Fingers were pointed at part-time farmer and local cab-driver, Paki Durkin – the chief judge. Was he got at, or just distracted? I reckon that our constant mobile phone calls to Paki from the bar, shouting “Where’s me taxi?” in an assortment of accents, as he felt up the sheep in the car park just didn’t help.
And then Con got his flute out …. and off we went again. Yee-hah.
Rollin’ in the hay, a-rollin’ in the hay …”

Festival First Day

Hi Dan. It’s good to hear that you’ve been getting into the spirit of the Harvest Festival with singalongs and double ukes. Over here, our 60 hour non-stop musical extravaganza kicked off in great fashion on Friday night.
I was asked to sort of officially open the event with a short presentation of the O’Connell Family Tree to birthday boy Con – before things got silly. This meant that Sue & I ventured out at 8.30pm which was the Festival “start time” on the formal invites. It also meant that we ended up spending an hour in the Cock accompanied by just the English blow-ins. None of the native Irish neighbours head out until “going on 10″. The English always get caught out by this confusing custom.
At about 9.45, clutches of Con’s many cousins starting appearing, along with their families. My drinking partner, old Hughie, out unusually late, came out with the best early line. He was introduced to a cousin called Francis, and then his wife. He instantly replied, “How do you do Francis, and how do you do your wife.” Hughie pretends that he’s a senile old fool, but he knows exactly what he is saying to insult or amuse unfamiliar visitors to the Cock.
The excitement was building when Head of Security, Auld Wobbly Bob, turned up on his bicycle in his hi-viz vest. He was kept busy in the car park, ensuring that visitors’ cars would be blocked in until Monday morning. Wobbly Bob’s bike also acted as the emergency generator for the outdoor stage. A cable from backstage was attached to his rear wheel dynamo.
Tony Marren did a sound and lighting check which lit up the village all the way to the GAA field. Everything was set as shy Con tried to sneak in through the back door of the shop. It was no use – he was spotted – and the old-timers demanded their free drinks. I wondered why Hughie and the old cronies had stayed out beyond their 7pm bedtimes.
I just had enough time to explain my family tree charts to Con, and Con Og, and Anthony Senior, on the pool table in the Games Room – when, right on cue, the haunting sounds of an Eric Clapton guitar solo echoed through the open windows of the bar. It was a miraculously warm and dry evening, so all the effort to erect outdoor facilities paid off big time. Glastonbury eat your heart out. The birthday boy was forced into the limelight as glamorous Maureen, in shimmering sequins, told him in song that he looked “Wonderful Tonight”.
It was great to see Con reunited with his six children, with offspring flying in for the festival from Canada and Australia. And many of Con’s musical buddies made guest appearances too. Andy Williams started his comeback, as agreed, and Johnny Cash entertained us with his ring of fire (with Wobbly Bob on standby with the fire extinguisher). Even the Gallagher brothers from Charlestown behaved themselves and bashed out some Oasis anthems for the tiddly audience. Dancin’ Frank was in his element, crushing the toes of unwilling young lady partners, as he jived the night away non-stop, like Bez from the Happy Mondays. You couldn’t hear yourself drink. Sign language at the bar was the Order of the night.
Maurice never made it on one leg from his home on the Moy, but he could probably hear the racket down by the old convent. The rest is a blur … (not Damon’s gang who got the sh*t kicked out of them by the Gallaghers behind the chip van).
Only two days to go. I’m looking forward to the beauty parade of sheep on Sunday afternoon. The local girls always scrub up nice for fanciers.

Harvest Festival Preparations

Glad you’re on the mend, and that you have escaped the touchy-feely Yoga guy unscathed. I thought that meditation was something you did alone. Your experience reminds me of a few scary incidents spent in dormitories in the company of aging RC priests or virile Christian Brothers many, many years ago. Don’t worry. Most of them are dead (down there) or in prison now.

Sorry that I have not been able to relieve you lately (with light-hearted banter; ooh-er). Mad busy tracing long-lost worldwide O’Connells for the big birthday bash. Monday was particularly mad. I spent the first half of my day reading through my proof-read novel just returned overnight from my proof-reader in the US. More editing needed. Then the second half of the day was spent interviewing Con’s father, Anthony, again. We had to decide which members of the O’Connell extended family are worthy of inclusion in the published Family Tree, and which characters are scumbags to be deleted (aka the divorcee brigade).

The third half of my day was taken up by another soup run up to Maurice the Cripple’s place, plus a welcome rest by the Roaring Cock fire on the way home. I’m only joking – I didn’t spend the whole of the third half of the day in the pub. Just an hour or two.

Poor Maurice. He is the one who calls himself by the non-PC term of ‘cripple’. If you recall, he fell off his false leg and had a nasty accident. It looks more serious than I had imagined. He might not even make the Harvest Drinking Festival this weekend. You see, he let me in his house on this visit, instead of growling “feck off” from his wheelchair or bed – which is perfectly understandable. Maurice talked me through the accident. On a wet floor, his prosthetic leg slipped from beneath him, and as it was tightly strapped to the stump below his amputated left knee, the physical muscle damage was horrendous. As a doctor, you should understand all about the severely sprained and twisted tendons. Achilles was mentioned – but thankfully no broken bones.

I did not appreciate the worst part of the incident until Maurice disclosed the full tale and made tears trickle down my cheeks. Apparently, the heavy boot of the false leg ended up being forced violently between his legs during the fall. A definite red card offence. Violent conduct. The leg is banned for a fortnight.

I just had time to witness the roadies starting to erect the mammoth grandstand and main stage for the weekend festival at the Cock. Scaffold poles everywhere. I heard one watching old-timer observe: “How are you going to get the sheep up that high?”. The scaffolder told him not to be daft. He advised that they are going to make a very long ramp across the Cock car park for the livestock.

Ancient Irish Racism

I was in Tubber yesterday to stock up on rations. I managed to find one of the treasured parking spots on double yellow lines outside Sorlis’s supermarket. You know, Dan, right by the new pedestrian crossing which no-one uses. Uncle John came along for the ride, knowing that he would be able to sneak out of the car and into the snug when I stopped for diesel at the Roaring Cock filling station on the way home.

John was sat in the car on Tubber’s high street whilst I was in the Wine Cellar eyeing up alcoholic bargains. He was watching the world go by when a passing sight clearly alarmed him. When I returned to move my car from its technically illegal parking spot, John eagerly told me about his observation.

“A tall black lady walked past. Jet black, she was. Never seen one like that before. I wonder what breed she was.” It could have been Naomi Campbell for all I know. Unlikely though, on a wet weekday in Tubber.

I have witnessed the spectacle of 89 year-old John gazing intently (and very rudely) at the locality’s very few dark-skinned immigrants before. This used to baffle and concern me, but now I understand him, sort of. The old rural farmers round here just haven’t ever seen a coloured person in the flesh until the last 10 years. It still bothers me that the many Polish exiles have been accepted into the community with open arms, but the African families have to put up with disconcerting stares from the elderly natives. How ironic that the brothers and sisters of these same old Irish locals had to put up with negative discrimination when they emigrated to the American cities. One returning US immigrant from the parish once retorted that “I was treated like a black when I first arrived in the States.” Have the old-timers not learned?

I must declare that I disagree wholeheartedly with any form of racism. The fact that the English branch of my extended Family Tree now has some Caribbean roots bears testimony to the open-mindedness of the younger generations. But – I cannot change decades of ingrained ancient Irish racism brought about through ignorance and naivety.

The wariness of many God-loving white Irish pensioners towards their darker-skinned neighbours is rarely reported upon. When you overcome the blissful ignorance of the situation, some of the older fellow’s outwardly shocking remarks become amusing, as you try to debate the inappropriateness of overheard comments. However, I have got to admit that a statement made one day by fervent church-goer Pious Peter did make me spit my beer out, unwillingly. He said, “When we were collecting for the African babies years ago, I didn’t expect that they’d come and live here.”

When challenged, Peter defended his honest opinion by claiming that the cultural attributes of African “tribes” would not meld into the ways of the Irish countryside-dwellers. I baited Pious Pete about the finer aspects of life in a rural Irish parish; brewing illegal spirits, occasional intoxication, wild dancing at hooleys, a belief in the power of the fairies, etc. I tried to argue that maybe Peter was right – maybe our African friends would not wish to sink to such levels of debauchery. Peter indignantly stormed out of the bar (as he often does) when “housing needs” were discussed. I circumvented his ignorance by telling him that our Irish forefathers were still living in filthy timber one-room shacks with straw for a roof and pigs as room-mates just over 100 years ago, so any comparison with the bigoted image of Africans living in mud huts in the jungle was unreasonable. I argued that the African mud hut was a much cleverer and sturdier design than the Irish counterpart. Pious Pete had reached the door as I shouted, “Why, they even had separate sleeping quarters and an outside loo – not like your grandfather’s hovel.”

Of course, the most worrying belief of lots of white Irish Catholics is that civilization as we know it will end if ever a black pope is elected in the Holy City. Which strain of Christian dogma preaches this disgraceful garbage? Like every other rural Irish parish, we have our fair share of “holier-than-thou” committed RC churchgoers who think that weekly attendance at Mass then permits all kind of un-Christian wrongdoing through the week …. so long as the sinner then makes a Confession on a rare outing to Knock Shrine once in a while. Witnessing this type of pompous hypocrisy turned me away from formal church gatherings when I was in my teens.

Regardless, I do think that the local RC churches serve a great purpose in the community for those that need to follow services “religiously” as their ancestors did for centuries. The turn-out at Sunday Mass (even on a Saturday nowadays) is still spectacular around here. It’s a chance for many to meet their distant neighbours on a regular basis. Afterwards, the ladies swap gossip, and the menfolk inch their way to the boozer. Funeral masses are even bigger events, just like they were decades ago. The churches have to employ traffic police and parking attendants to control the cortege. At least one representative from every local RC family will attend the funerals, or the preceding removals, or the subsequent burials. This means that work stops on the funeral day. With an aging population, I often wonder how our community survives economically when regularly reduced to a three-day working week by funeral interruptions.

I prefer to be a member of the more enlightened and unassuming Christian brethren. We do not need to donate large chunks of our hard-earned income to a tax-dodging priest in order to secure entry into Heaven, if such a place exists. We certainly do not need a weekly sermon from the pulpit telling us what we are doing wrong – given by a man (never a woman!) who represents a Church which has institutionally participated in some of Ireland’s worst atrocities. Don’t get me wrong; many, probably most, RC priests do the best job they can, in very trying circumstances. There have been good and bad RC priests in my own family. One was a saint (more than helping to overcome white supremacy in New Orleans of old) and one was a sinner of the worst kind – a child abuser. We can’t choose our relatives and ancestors.

I like to help out in small ways around our parish, quietly. Ensure that the vulnerable and elderly are cared for, fed and warm. Make sure they’re safe from harm, whether that be domestic dangers or the unwanted attention of predatory strangers. That’s what Christianity is all about in my mind – maybe with a small “C” for no publicity.

Irish Family Fortunes

Today, we met our first Pilgrim walking with a donkey. This young Swiss lad had walked to Santiago, with his donkey, all the way from Basle and was now walking back home! It was going to take him over a year to do this. Not long afterwards we met another Pilgrim walking with equine company. He was a Spanish guy who was walking with his ”family” – a Shetland Pony named ”Pearlita” and a parrot named ”China“. The parrot was travelling in a cage on the donkey’s back. On one of the photos you can also see a brolly sticking out of one of the donkey’s packs. There is no shortage of characters out here on The Camino.

I saw the Japanese contortionist again today; she’s still blanking me.


                   Pearlita and China

Doctor Dan – I think I’ve got some sort of Dutch Elm Family Tree disease. After talking to grandpa Anthony on Tuesday about compiling the O’Connell ancestry report, I came away with about a dozen names and many useful detecting clues. By Wednesday evening, I had 101 names in the O’C tree. Then the fun(gus) spread. When I did a head count on Thursday night, I had 430 directly related descendants of Anthony’s granddad in the O’Connell tree (or is it a forest?). They’re turning up everywhere. New York, Brisbane, Belfast, London and even in Accrington!!

The best part is that two descendants living in the Bronx married into the Italian Capone family. We always knew that Con was a musical gangsta, but now some more research is needed to locate his relationship to dear old Uncle Al, the infamous tax-dodger.

Saw your cousin Dick in the PO, and he sends his regards. I told him all about your encounter with the donkey with the brolly. He says that we have enough donkeys in the parish. Very true. There’s two in the field just by our place – or is he referring to Hughie and Maurice? Anyway, he says that he would be in touch but he’s not so good with computers. This is worrying. Dick’s day-job is dishing out Euros as a clerk in the South Sligo Credit Union, using a COMPUTER. Perhaps this is why some of our more prudent parish OAP’s still invest their savings at the Credit Union and never seem to run out of credit. An Irish Bank cannot claim back over-payments. There is no economic crisis around these parts – so long as you’ve got the price of a pint.

Big traffic incident in the village. Was it not on the Reuters feed? I was dawdling down the hill through the village in my people-carrier (or van, as the locals call it) when old Touch-up Tommy pulled out of his hiding spot down the side of Quinns on his old New Holland. I had the right of way. Main road. Thirty cars a day. Tommy just steamed out, straight in front of me. No head turn – another stroke victim. I slammed on, having been doing 20mph. So did Tommy doing even less. Major catastrophe averted. He owes me a Guinness.

Let’s not talk about cross-Channel soccer this Saturday. The slump and Embarrassment of Ewood continues.

Best laugh of the weekend has been provided by the fact that the TV quiz show which is the antithesis of University Challenge now has its own Irish version. Yes – I’m talking about Family Fortunes – and over here it’s presented by Mincing Alan from gaytime TV, who soon looked like he wished he’d never accepted the contract.

I am sure that the producers rigged this first showing by asking some questions which were bound to draw cringe-worthy answers. The first question was “name a part of the body which has three letters”. Easy one to start us off. There’s the main limbs and a few facial features, and The Meehans from Limerick did manage “arm” and got control of the board. As we eagerly waited for the bravest contestants to mutter “bum” and “tit”, we were alarmed to hear the second Meehan’s proud answer. “Knee” she said.

Next intellectual question was, “name something you can smell but can’t see”. The Meehans dove in again with “perfume”. Nice one. They also managed “gas”, and we started to titter and cringe …. but the Meehans could go no further. So it was over to the Mahers from Dublin to STEAL….

“What can you smell but not see?” asks mincin’ Alan again. Old Jimmy Maher had no problem. “Yer fart”, he says. Then up the line we went. Fart – a fart – a fart, they all say. Alan gives the Maher captain the choice, “You can have a fart or give us a different smell”. “No, Alan, I’ll have to have a fart.”
“Okay, let’s see if your fart is up there”. Bingo. Second most popular answer. “And your fart has won you a bonus prize – a four star hotel weekend break in Sligo town”. I just wish Alan had thrown in “complete with colonic irrigation spa treatment”.

The Mahers didn’t make it to the Big Money finale, but Alan waved them off saying that he loved their farts. The Friday night debut show was so good they repeated on Saturday evening at prime time, up against Premier League soccer on RTE. It was no contest.

Gearoid, yet again you’ve got us in stitches – which is what some of my fellow walkers will soon need if the foot blisters don’t heal. 


          My Left Foot

Cock & Bull

A great night’s sleep. I’ve just eaten a gargantuan breakfast, feel refreshed and ready to hit the road again. Before leaving I’m going to visit the Cathedral opposite the hotel. This town is the place where ”The Miracle of The Cock” occurred (stop sniggering at the back).

The story goes that in the 14th century, a German 18-year old named Hugonell, from Xanten, goes on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela with his parents. A Spanish girl at the hostel where they were staying falls in love with him; Hugonell denies her advances. Angry at this, the girl hides a silver cup in the German’s bag and informs the authorities that the young man has taken it. Hugonell is sentenced to death on the gallows, in accordance with the laws of Alfonso X of Castille.
Mourning the death of his son, the parents sadly decide to examine their son’s body, still hanging on the gallows, but suddenly they hear his voice. He tells them that Santo Domingo de la Calzada has kept him alive.

His parents quickly go to see the magistrate in order to announce that a miracle has taken place. The magistrate, who is at the time eating dinner remarks: “Your son is as alive as this cock and hen that I am about to eat” – and at that moment, the two birds jump from the plate and begin to sing and crow happily.
In the cathedral of Santo Domingo there is a hen house worked in stone, inside of which, for the last 500 years, there has always been kept a cock and a hen.

Great story Dan. Sounds like a load of bull, with a bit of cock thrown in. Cock & bull. Just like the miraculous stories regurgitated in our local tavern for the benefit of disbelieving pilgrims, passing through.

I’ve been very busy over the last 36 hours. Sue has volunteered me to compile the O’Connell family tree. It’s Con’s 50th on the 18th, with a surprise (I don’t think so) party organised at the Cock on the 19th. I made an appointment to consult with Anthony & Maura, the parents of Con, both in their late 70′s but fit as fiddles in mind and body. That is a help to any genealogist. A planned one hour consultation yesterday turned into two hours as Anthony told me many great family history tales – and then he brought out the Powers Gold Label. I had been determined to stay ‘dry’ for a few days after the exertions of the Killybacside Olympics, but a few pushy and insistent mentions of “Ah, g’wan” saw my Lentan intentions fall at the first temptation.

Got home (eventually) and got the Family Tree growing vigorously today. Then old Uncle John got a thirst at about 4pm and jumped in my car as I went to the PO. I couldn’t leave him on his own, could I? We met Joerg the German in the Cock; a lovely man with wild blond hair. A keen surfer and fisherman. He has eight rod-caught wild Moy salmon in his freezer at his remote home up the mountain. This big – they are. The funny thing is that Joerg the Kraut speaks with the most refined English accent in the parish. He was brought up somewhere posh in SW England. It is quite strange to listen to Joerg have a conversation with old Hughie in the corner by the fire. Hughie, born and bred in Sligo, talks pure indecipherable gobbledygook, whilst Joerg talks like Prince William on an Irish pub crawl.

This English language barrier led young Paddy, the barman, to criticize my Lancs-cum-Irish dialect. He reckons that I say the word ‘look’ in an amusing way, to him. I say “loook” and he says “luck”. I argued that my pronunciation was correct, and he had been influenced by US TV and a year or two of Aussie emigration. I asked him to say, “Go take a look in the brook for the fish on the hook”. It became go take a luck in the bruck for the fish on the huck. I conceded that my Wheelton-born mother would still say – go take a loook in the brooook for the fish on the hoooook – whilst my softened version (if not socialising around Chorley) is now – go take a looook in the bruck for the fish on the huck. Paddy thought he had won the argument. But I asked him – would you woo a Chinese lesbian, or wuh her? Point taken, he said, but he’d prefer to foooook her. “Nice one,” I said, “That’s really cul” [coool].

Joerg lawfed, rather politely, and ventured, “My word. That’s one for Gearoid’s next buck.”

Caged Cock

The Caged Cock and Hen in the Cathedral Santo Domingo de la Calzada

23 a day

I had a strange encounter yesterday when I went in the village shop for my daily nicotine fix. For a while, I thought our ever-helpful ‘shop-girl’ Bridie had overdone it on the home-brewed mountain dew. I casually spoke my normal phrase of “20 Bensons please” but she replied with words which sounded like, “D’ya want 20 or 23?”
I tried not to make her feel embarrassed, so I responded with a politely repeated “20 Bensons please”.
“D’ya want 20 or 23?”
“Er ….. great win for Europe in the Ryder Cup. Now Bridie – 20 Bensons please”.
“Oh, the golf was great. D’ya want 23?”
This awkward conversation went back and forth for some time, until Bridie reached into the hidden ciggie shelf below the counter and produced a box of Bensons which made me feel light-headed. It was all out of proportion as though someone had been tampering with my monitor screen ratio settings. It was a packet of 23 B&H.

It turns out that the tobacco pushers in Ireland have started to produce packets of 23 which are priced at a handy ten euros, instead of the awkward eight-sixty-something for 20. I don’t know what the anti-smoking lobby will make of this when they find out. It is clear to me that the Irish government is happy to raise more revenue by subliminally enticing the nation’s smokers to increase their daily intake by 15%. This recession-busting policy is certainly working already in the pubs. I am definitely drinking 15% more lager since the price was dropped to the more competitive price of 3 euros per pint.

So Danny, if you get a wheezing old Irish fella in your surgery and you ask him the obligatory, “how many cigarettes do you smoke per day?”, then do not be surprised when he answers with the mathematically baffling “Oh, I try to stick to 23 a day”.

It was a tiring day for me too yesterday. A quick teatime tipple just about got me over the line. I fell asleep when gay Marcus started taking an interest in Maria’s breasts [Corrie on telly] – but I woke up in time for the one-year anniversary edition of Midwest Radio’s TV Show. Sounds daft, but it’s true. Channel 191 on Sky at 10pm each Monday. A very popular show, especially with lonesome ex-pats. They play videos by ‘legendary’ bands which you never knew existed. The weekly highlight is always Tom Hennigan’s Culture Corner slot, filmed down at his old farm near Killasser. Last night he had us in the re-constructed schoolhouse single classroom, explaining why he got regularly whacked by the vicious master using an array of gruesome (preserved) weapons. Something to do with only having six spoons in the cutlery drawer for a family of fourteen kids, so Tom only ever got his morning porridge during the second sitting – and a whack from the schoolmaster for being late in class after the barefoot walk from Rubble to Killasser. No cosy school runs in the Mitsubishi 4×4 in them days. Makes the Christian Brothers at John Rigby seem as gentle as a Moorslayer.


Ged , you are becoming famous amongst my fellow Pilgrims as I read out each of your comments to them . Their next ”pilgrimage” will be to Killybacside at this rate .