Tag Archives: ireland

A Moment of Silence For the True Irish Saint, Bobby Sands

     Informed Readers,

     While we celebrate Saint Patrick, who made a name for himself by having a corpse dug from the ground so he could ‘baptize’ it and claim to have called the man from his grave,  we need to keep the real Irish Patriots in mind.  It is much better to save the lives of countless women and children by starving yourself than graverobbing in the name of the Pope.

    Read about Bobby Sands.

Bobby Sands Portrait

Bobby Sands MP

Officer Commanding IRA political prisoners, H-Blocks, Long Kesh. Born 9th March 1954, died 5th May 1981 after sixty-six days on hunger strike.
Twenty-seven-year old Bobby Sands, after enduring years of solitary confinement and beatings, led the 1981 hunger strike, during which he was elected as MP for the constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the north of Ireland.
Bobby became an international figure who to this day continues to inspire not just Irish republicans in their pursuit of freedom from British rule but people around the world struggling for their rights.


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Men In Kilts Are Not Irish; Blood Across the Shannon, Part II

     To the Kiltless and Kurious,

     Today we continue the saga of watching someone slowly bleed to death while traveling across Ireland in a busload of senior citizens.

     Traveling with a sick person brings to mind the Marx Brothers and the premise for their movie Room Service…you cannot throw a sick person out of a hotel.  The same dynamic was working here, only a skewed version of it.  Since a hotel cannot eject a sick person, they are not too keen on allowing them to check in.  Luckily, the size of our group and the sea of blue hair took the attention off of my dad and enabled us to sneak him into our lodgings.

     Pictured above, by the way, is the fabulous view of a peak on the Ring of Kerry, as taken from the Isle of Garnish in Bantry Bay.  The Isle of Garnish was a garden, the whole island cultivated to please the owner, the Earl of Garnish, who was no relation to the Earl of Sandwich – even though both may have benefited from the association.  So much for the sandwich humor.

     Being on a bus full of seniors in a foreign land may sound plenty dull.  That would have been the fact, had it not been for a fun-loving busdriver who made sure the oldsters got a few pints of Guinness into them at about 1030am every morning.  We would pull up at a bar and pile in.  A bite to eat, the standard salmon plate for me, and a couple pints and we were on our way.  Drinking the Magner’s myself, the driver always encouraged me to take two or three pints cans with me to drink on the bus while the oldsters slept off the morning stout.  “Ye’ll need it to put up with them old fairts,” he would tell me.

     One evening, while staying in Killarney, we took a ride to one of the many attractions which were part and parcel of the price of the ticket.  We went to Tralee to see the Siamsa Tire Theatre…siamsa tire is Irish for ‘entertainment countryside’.  The theatre was a marvelous mix of new and old, castle-keep walls fitted with new walls between them to make a modern-medieval venue.  The show was all dance…the four seasons, in fact, depicted in dance.  ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’ were, pardon the pun, Flatley boring.  If you have seen Michael Flatley or any of the incarnations of Lord of the Dance, you see a lot of feet moving very quickly and (unless the costumes are tight or revealing) not much else to hold my interest.  Luckily, there was an intermission before ‘Winter’ and ‘Fall’.

     The first two seasons had nearly put me to sleep, so staying in my seat, our driver, Paddy, approached me.  “What ‘ere ye doin’ here, with these fairts,” he chided me, “There is a bar in the lobby. They have whiskey!  Ye need it for this sort of thing!!”  Heartily agreeing, I allowed Paddy to lead me to the lobby near the entrance where a bar was set up.  It looked like this, in fact it was this, only with coffeepots and whiskey, John J. Jameson, of course.


     Not being much of a whiskey-drinker, the first hot cop of alco-java went down a little slow.  By the second cup, it tasted mighty fine and was quite an enjoyable drink.  The house lights started dimming and the theatre personnel were tearing down the ‘bar’.  “Do I have enough time for one more,” I asked, imploringly, and was allowed to purchase my third and last whiskey.  It went very well with the legal Irish codiene tablets.

     Slowly making my way back to my seat, Paddy caught me at the door of the auditorium.  “Where, ye goin’,” he asked, as much as told me, “Ye doon’t want to be in there with awl them old fairts.”  He grabbed my arm and pulled me acrosss the lobby, to the door and windows.  “Look,” he exclaimed, pointing to a pub across the parkinglot on an adjoining street, “They have yer cider in there, I know!”  Looking into the theatre, seeing my dad and all the blue hairs in their seats, made me shudder.  “G’wan, Gw’an, with ye, ” Paddy ordered.  “I’ll not drive off without ye. Just be back at half ten (1030pm)!”

     It is hard enough to resist alcohol, as it is, without an enthusiastic Irishman prodding me.  Stepping out the doors into the light rain, and making my way to the pub, a warm feeling swept over me and drink was not on my mind anymore.  Tralee was not a place we would return to.  It had a famous name (from the annual Rose of Tralee Festival, as well as the annual Tralee Matchmaking Festival, where people come from all over the world to meet a mate) so it had to be seen.  The rain was steady, but light, and so did not bug me.

      I was in an industrial town where everything was brick, from streets to walks to walls of buildings,  all slick, shiny and wet with the rain.  No streets ran parallel, so there were triangles, where streets met, all over.  Not a soul was in sight.  It was dark.  I started singing, I have no idea what I sang, but it sounded Irish and, though not at the top of my lungs, it was loud enough to bring an echo from the bricks.  I have no idea how long this went on before I remembered the theatre and the time.  Managing to find my way deftly back,  I could hear the music and clap-clap-clapping of the dancers’ feet two blocks away.

     The show was almost over, it seemed, so ducking into the pub Paddy had pointed out to me, I managed to suck down two pints of Magners, when people began to emerge from the theatre.  The sidestreets of Tralee were one of the best parts of the tour!

                                                        Magners Irish Cider

     “Where were you,” asked my dad, who had slept through all four seasons?

      “Just out for a walk, I am not much on this kind of dancing,” was my reply.  Swaying back and forth in my shoes, he gave me that look he had given me all his life, the ‘pissed off at you for having fun’ look.  This time I deserved it.  We rolled off into the rainy black night and back to our hotel.

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Taking Dad To Ireland, Blood Across the Shannon and Kilts Are Not Irish

     Exhaulted Readers,

     As we stumble upon Saint Patrick’s Day, we thought that a few blogs about the old sod may prove appropriate.  To cut to the quick, let us make one thing clear.  If you see some big goon in a kilt at a bar or Irish function on Wednesday, it is surely an idiot who does not know the difference between Scotland and Ireland and probably bought the kilt as a convenient way to get into a fight.

     Avoid men with kilts, in general, in America, 364 days of the year.  They are allowed one day unless they are first-generation Scot.  Now, that we have annoyed that foolish segment of the population, allow us to continure with the actual story.

     As this is a personal (albiet ficticious since nothing on here is real) tale,  permit me to continue in the first person, I, to make it a bit easier.  The ‘I’ in question is full of bright ideas.  Many are fueled by booze and sentimentality, so the term ‘bright idea’ is a touch of the old sarcasm.  This time, this bright idea, came to pass beginning in late 1999,  the year my mom died.  It was a particularly grim holiday, either turkey day or xmas, and the old man and I sat at the table with the full meal and fixings.  It must have been turkey day, the first holiday without my mom around.

     He was getting teary and, in an effort to switch up the mood of the meal,  I suggested that we take a trip to Ireland the following year.  He was one of those types with the ‘honk if you’re irish’ license plate holder and was easy to deal with on holidays because you just needed a new book on Ireland, which he would never read anyway.  It was a chance to go to Ireland, which I had been thinking about anyway; it was also a way to show that life was not over and there were still things for him to do that he had not even dreamt of.

     As it turned, a golf buddy of his, Louie,  ran tours to the Emerald Isle for several years and we joined a trip he was putting together for the upcoming May.  It took all the planning off my hands, so that was just perfect…until we got there and it dawned on me that he went to sleep at 10pm every night and the sun didn’t even set until close to 11pm that time of year.

      I had never considered the implications of taking an 80-year-old man with a 70-year-old tobacco habit on a plane or how the altitude would affect his lungs.  We started off with a couple days at the Royal Dublin Hotel on O’Connell Street, with the statue of Parnell, the Great Patriot of the Irish Nation.  The old man took it easy, after the scare at the airport, where they put him in a chair and gave him oxygen for a bit.

     So, here I was in Ireland, the only young man in a group of senior citizens, the youngest of whom may have been in her mid-sixties.  At least nobody would try to hang around with me.

     It was great to be on the main street of the city, in walking distance of Trinity College, the famous old government buildings, the Book of Kells, the house where Bram Stoker labored over his novel, Dracula, which would sell many hoodies, hundreds of years after it was printed.

     There was a stain on the pillow, which I noticed the first morning and took to be a result of drooled-out tobacco juice, which stained a number of his clothing items.  There was another stain the next morning, as was discovered as bags were packed to leave Dublin and head down coast to the Munster area, where many of the first great kings of Ireland came from and where they fought many of their fiercest battles, defending their homeland from the inevitable pillaging which plagued the People for centuries.

     While in this corner of the Isle, we stayed in Clonmel (meaning honey meadow), near TipperaryThe Hotel Minella was home for a few days, in the middle of the orchards where the apples for the wonderful Magner’s Irish Cider are grown.  The hotel was an extravagant affair.


    It lay along the River Suir, with the Comeragh Mountains looking behind.  Here, again, we spent a few days.  Dad had gotten a bit tired and so was I, so after a few drinks, we retired to the room on early-afternoon to get into an argument over the television.  I was watching the movie Butcher Boy, the disturbing tale with Sinead O’Connor as the Holy Virgin Mary.  While an excellent flick, it was beyond his sensibilities, so I tried for a short nap and went for a walk.

     The grounds were fantastic and, as stated, were surrounded by the orchards and farmland.  A dirt road ran sort of parallel to the river.  Apple trees and livestock ran along the gurgling waters of the Suir.  This was more like a creek than a river.  This was not the grand, majestic Shannon but it was lovely.

     Returning from my walk, a shower was in order and as I shaved before stepping into the tub, a few specks of blood near the mirror got my attention.  It was not a lot but it was in a small ‘spray pattern’.  I cannot even say that i knew it was blood at that point, looking back.  It totally surprised me.  A nice meal and an evening of drink, and at the light of dawn, the little dirt road beaconned.  Nobody was awake, not even the hotel staff, as I slipped out the door in my running shoes.

     I found some cows, feeding in a lot along the road, just a quarter mile from the hotel.  Having seen cows many times before, I am not sure what attracted me to them but I sidled up to the gate which held them in, to take a picture.  They all were chewing at the tall, green grass.  I got a shot or two of them chewing and thought it may be a good time to practice my ‘moo’, so one was brought up for the benefit of the bovine and it got their attention, as you can see in the photo.


     Having made a good impression on the cows, the brisk walk continued and after a few hours, the hotel appeared in site again and it was just in time for a continental breakfast.  I stopped at the room to shower.  There was no blood on the wall, but here were bloodied paper towels in the trash.  It looked like he had been spitting up into them.  This was starting to get serious and we still had more than half of Ireland waiting for us.

     We will pick this up tomorrow, at the Hotel Minela.  Thanks for your patience.

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Obama’s Xmas Gift To Us All. I’m Dreaming of a Blighted Xmas – K2

     Kind Readers, a thousand pardons for my disappearance over the past few days. Reports of my suicide are slightly exaggerated but if you peer to the left, you see the rocks of Doolin, where I would presumably wash ashore. It is a pleasant place, as I noted, but I plan to stick around. I was overcome by either food poisoning or a stomach flu, but in either case, the need for descriptive words at this time would do no more than unsettle your lunch, so I shall simply ask you to excuse my absence.

     Oddly, I started feeling ill while I was in the town of Jim Thorpe, PA, a place that throws a black shadow over Irish-American history – as I was reminded as I passed the ‘Molly McGuires’ Bar’ and the courthouse where the coal miners were prosecuted and sentenced to death. As I clutched my stomach while holding the steering wheel with the other hand, I passed the historic Packer Mansion.

     Some Packers had been along on the infamous Donner Party, which lost itself in the Rockies en route to the West Coast one 1880s winter and some members of the group stayed alive by cannabalism, consuming the flesh of their fellow travelers. I had not thought of these facts for some time and when I saw the Packer Mansion, I was reminded of the Donner Party and how I always give my name as ‘Donner’ when making dinner reservations, so that, at some point, my dinner companion and I will be sitting at the bar and hear the Donner Party being summoned. As I lay on the sofa, trying my best not to vomit or lose all control of my stomach, I flipped on the tv for amusement and, Voila!, Christian Slater starring in The Donner Party! What a coincidence!

     But that was the other day and this is now. My abdominals are sore from the constant wretching but I feel well enough to blog, so here goes:

The Week Before Xmas

‘Twas the week before Xmas and in the White House 

Obama and Gil K were torturing a mouse.

Their consciences hung near the mantel with care

in hopes the pharma-lobby soon would be there

to give them the cash that they love way too much

to spend on the drug war, since ‘enough is enough’.

While they concurred on many mean ways to humble ya’

They smoked phat joints (legal in District of Columbia)

‘We’ll fix those bastards who elected me now.

I am not some servant, not one to be cowed.

Those liberals stink ‘cuz they think they still own me.

I am way above all of that ‘honest’ baloney.

So, if my office has not found enough morons to screw,

we’ll add to the insult and take their K2.”

Gil liked this idea and smiled from within.

He had a game that would make sensible heads spin.

Wait until Xmas Eve and take the Spice from the shelf

and keep it for a year, ruining next Xmas, as well.

The drug war has already cost over a trillion

so who’s going to mind just another hundred million

dollars it takes to waste on a dream

that noone believed, anyway, it seemed.

There are kids without presents and kids without food,

kids with no warm clothes and sick little ones, too!

Why spend the money helping kids like we should?

A new prison in your neighborhood would look mighty good.

The people who smoke pot (known as drug abuse victims)

make us wonder why we take those with problems and kick them?

If these are the victims, then there must be a crime

since victims are prey of the criminal minds

who run this old country which once was a leader

of the whole darned free world but now has seceeded

from logic or forethought or the least care for others

and much prefers prisons where minds rot and thoughts smother.

So off in the sleigh go Ol’ Gil and Obammy

with not even so much as one Xmas salami

instead they took empty bags to be filled

with substances unknown, yet certain to kill.

They laughed at the people, all sleeping below –

– too bad they elected this pathetic freakshow - 

“On DEA! On FBI! On Homeland Security!

On ATF Agents,” Gil sneered and drooled luridly.

They flew through the night in taxpayer-owned sleigh,

“We must collect all of the K2 by day, yeah!

Take it from gas station, boutique and bodega.

Take from people who smoke for relief from the cancer

To steady their stomachs, one of life’s second chances.

Take it from kids ‘fore they find it themselves

Take all that we can because we need it ourselves.

It is nice to have medical marijuana in Washington

So we can smoke freely. The lower class – we caution them

About all the evils and deleterious effects

Which makes it legal for Senators but not for rednecks

Who have no address like us Pols in DC,

Which allows us to smoke all we want and stay free

And pass all the laws that take care of ourselves

While the commoners have nothing to smoke with the elves.”

Oh, this was a great plan, well thought out and selfish.

It came from our Gil, who has a brain like a shellfish.

He has admitted the war is a failure,

Yet still signs the papers so the feds can come nail you.

The whole world was watching as the sleigh rode the black,

Wishing it would crash, fingers crossed behind backs.

The president spotted a small store below,

Which gave off an aura, aromatic, that glowed.

“Here’s where we’ll start,” as he pulled on the reigns,

“At this little place,” said our Gil with no brains.

So slowly descending, they lit on the place

Where their heads were blown off – shotgun blasts to the face.

So, now it is snowing, the world looks so fresh.

A soft wind is blowing, two more morons dead.

Had they stayed at home and just minded their business

And let people live and quit making them victims

They would still be alive but the trouble, it seems,

Is that some people don’t view our Bill Of Rights as a dream. 

Article VI

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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What the Prozac Told Me

     Dearest Readers, thanks to you for all your support while I have been living on the edge these past few days. I like the edge. My favorite edge is the edge you see in the pic to your left, where I am standing at the tourist attraction and my future grave, the famous Cliffs of Maher.

     I got close to the edge at the cliffs. I wanted a pic of what it looked like when you viewed straight down the walls into the inky ocean. I slipped under a chicken-wire fence and, on my belly, hung over the edge to get my blurry shot.

     A few weeks after that, a young woman with two children in a pram took a run for the edge, pram and all. Needless to say, all three perished but it IS a cruel world, boys and girls, and certainly not a world for the weak.

     When a body plunges from these cliffs, it hits the water and eventually floats. With all the waves crashing, it is hard to guess if a body would float north or south but in the case of mine, I hope it takes the North current, into Galway Bay. Just five miles north, on the coast, of course, is the town of Doolin, international mecca for traditional Irish musicians, and host to three bars with live music every night, a church and a hotel. Doolin is the town where JRR Tolkien looked at the hills and rocks and got the inspiration to write The Hobbit and the resulting trilogy. It is a truly beautiful spot, perhaps one of the nicest on Earth, at the West of County Clare.

     I never thought about suicide much until a shrink tried to convince me I was depressed. He was on me about it all the time and so I allowed him to prescribe about a half of a child’s dose of Prozac. Well, I may not have felt like suicide but the old Prozac sure filled my head and gave me the way to do it, should I ever have to. I am dead against suicide, except in extreme cases of impending death. It is a play for cowards for the most part.

     Somehow the Prozac, in its infinite pharmalogic, felt that I should know how to kill myself, just in case. That is really not a bad idea, since cancer was supposed to kill me eight years ago but I escaped. I still wonder what I would do if given the choice of death or chemo again, though. Chemo is rough stuff…way worse than death. It is good if you have something to live for…but with no family and at 53, how long would I last after a second round of chemo, anyway? That is a question that plagued me until the Prozac spoke.

     “What you do,’ the Prozac said, “is to sell everything, your house car, everything. Then burn all your personal possessions which cannot be sold and buy a one way ticket to Paris. Start spending the money in Paris, work your way through Spain and Italy, down a few pints in England, go look at the North Sea from the tip of Scotland and then make your way to Ireland.”

     “In Ireland, stay at the best hotels and eat the best foods you can find. Drink. Drink. Drink. Save 200 Euros, though. Continue to enjoy yourself until either the pain becomes unbearable of you are down to that last 200 Euros. At that point, buy the finest bottle of liquor available at that price, preferrably a tequila. If there is any change from the purchase, give it to a child. Then start drinking directly from the bottle.”

     “Drink. Drink. Drink. You should be drunk by halfway down the bottle. At this time, it will be a sunny, autumn afternoon and you will be sitting on the vast lawn where sheep graze along the cliffs. Stand up…can you? If you can, amble your way to a spot near the edge. There will be no Garda to watch or stop you. Once you get within ten feet, hold the bottle to your chest and take a run at the edge. Don’t mind the chickenwire fence, it can’t even stop a pram. Go through it or over it.”

     “As you fall, bring the bottle to your lips and suck on it until everything goes black.”

     The newspaper accounts will be romantic…’was found washed up on the Galway Coast’…nobody will know why and you will die mysteriously, a hoodoovoodoo image. The shrink did not much care for it and gave up on the depression angle, preferring to suggest me as bi-polar, as is now the more popular diagnosis. He told me Dickens was bi-polar, too, and that is why he wrote so much.

     I guess it is better to be crazy than dead but if you have to die, try to have some fun at it!!!!

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