When Parades go wrong.

When Parades go wrong.

Saint Patrick’s day Hell!

That was the headline on the front page. There was a photo too.  It showed a man, wearing a Leprechaun’s hat and a fake ginger beard, giving a breath sample to the Police.

The man was me.

Saint Patrick’s day in our house was always a big occasion. We would start the day with Mass and then on to the local parade. It still is a big day but it has a bitter taste, for me at least, since “the wee hiccup”. That’s how the polite people of my town refer to it. At least that’s what they call it when I am within earshot.

Being the pillar of society that I am, I was asked if I would donate my services and truck for the parade. The truth is I didn’t want to do it. Not that I don’t like to help out, but rather I don’t like being in the public eye. It’s just the way I am. But anyway I said “Yes.” Because that’s what Yes Men do.

So, on the day prior to the parade I pulled the side curtains (tarpaulins) right back and the local Arts and Crafts club went to work.  I have to hand it to them. When they were finished it really looked the part. The idea was that it would be a showcase for their work; Knitted jumpers, Paintings, Paper mache sculptures and the like.

The day came and there were about a dozen kids and two adults on our float. All beavering away on their sewing machines and spinning wheels and what have you. The crowds were clapping and cheering like they were in New York. I was even getting in on the act as we went along, giving the odd wave or tooting the air horn.

This ‘Float Driver’ lark was a first for me, so I can be forgiven for making the fatal mistake. With all the excitement I had forgotten to fill up with Diesel. The first I knew about it was when it was too late.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the engine had just stopped. We could have gotten a tow from the float in front. But it didn’t just stop. It started to air-lock, on and off, offering me false hope that I might make it to the end of the parade at least.

To put it into layman’s terms, when a machine is running out of fuel she starts to Chug. And boy did this baby chug! She chugged so much that one of the children fell off, but landed on his feet thank God. The other kids were clinging on for dear life. In fact, one of the adults almost lost an eye with a knitting needle.

Of course I was oblivious to any of this until I had nursed the truck off down the nearest side street. I thought the two adults would have had the sense to get the children to sit down when the chugging started. They don’t make adults like they used to. When I did park up I could hear the crying which I hadn’t been able to hear over the Marching Band.

Next thing I knew there was a crowd gathered around snapping photos of the crying children. To be honest it looked as if a Tsunami had struck the float. And of course low and behold the Gardai (Police) show up and inform me that under Section something or other of the road traffic act they are obliged to ask me for a sample of my breath. I wouldn’t have minded but I knew the two cops personally. I suppose they were only doing their job.

And then the local newspaper the following day made it look like I was the Grinch who stole Saint Patrick’s day. Journalism is a dirty word in my house since then.

But time is a healer and maybe in a few more decades they will allow me to forget the wee hiccup.


Thank you for reading



Bless me Father.

Bless me Father.

“Three full Rosaries? You’re asking me to say three full Rosaries and yet yer man before me only gets a Glory Be, an Our Father, and a Hail Mary! After what he did!! You cannot be serious!”

But he was serious.

Today is known as Ash Wednesday in the Catholic religion. I’m sure you have heard something of it. I won’t go into the whole meaning, for two reasons: Firstly I don’t know the whole meaning, and Secondly I didn’t get my ashes today. I was “too busy.” So it would be a bit rich if I were to start a full scale lecture on it.

Of course my wife and kids recieved their ashes. In fact, I could right this moment ask any one of them about the meaning, and they would be able to give me the complete story. But I won’t because dads know it all, everything! It would be a sign of less than perfection. No need to rock the boat. “Steady as she goes, Captain.”

It is the norm in our faith to attend confessions at regular intervals throughout the year. It’s particularly common to have your confession heard in the lead up to an important Holy day, for instance, Ash Wednesday, or Easter Sunday, or Christmas day. You get the gist. The idea is that it wipes the slate clean before you recieve an important Sacrament. It have to admit, in most cases my conscience felt a lot lighter after a visit. It’s a strange one.

But the truth, and I’ll have to whisper in case the kids hear, is that I haven’t been to confession in about three years. Just plain old laziness. I’ll burn in Hell yet.

Speaking of whispers, there is one occasion which stands out in my memory. I was visiting the relations on my father’s side.  He is originally from County Mayo. The county famous for the Apparition at Knock, a small village, in 1879. Our Lady, Saint Joseph, Saint John appeared along with an Altar on top of which stood the Lamb, and there was a large Crucifix behind the Altar. None of them made a sound but the apparition lasted an hour or two. Fifteen people of all ages witnessed it. You can find out more on the WWW-dot if you’re interested.

Whether or not their surroundings had any influence, my father’s family were, and still are, devout Catholics. Everything was done by the book. So on the visit in question I tagged along to the local Church for confessions. When in Rome..

“..and maybe we’ll do the stations of the cross while we’re there,” announced my wife. Oh she is good!

When we arrived there wasn’t much of a queue, thanks be to God. And it seemed like no time at all until I had shuffled along the seat to be in the next up position.

I felt nervous. Not because I had murdered anyone. But because I knew that my devout relations would hear every sin I told, thanks to Father Echo, behind the curtain. Each faux pas that the sinner was mumbling, was being repeated at full volume by the priest, who sounded old and deaf. But his vocal chords were in mint condition.


“mumble mumble mumble.”


“mumble mumble mumble”

“I TRUST YOU WILL FIND HER AND APOLOGISE! FOR YOUR PENANCE SAY ONE OUR FATHER, ONE HAIL….” he went on to absolve the poor lad of his sins.

I was next. I hadn’t counted on this scenario. So I played it cool.

“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been a while since my last confession…”

“HOW LONG IS A WHILE?” he interrupted.

“Oh about five years,  I can’t remember.”


Damn! By now the whole of County Mayo has heard my business thanks to Father Megaphone! All my wife’s good work, down the drain. I had to think quick. I couldn’t list all the real sins I had committed. I would be excommunicated, and worse, embarrassed.

“Oh I wished bad luck to a few people here and there, Father. You know, the usual thing when someone gets on your nerves.”


And he left it at that. So now the folks outside think I am the Devil incarnate. Oh my God, tell me this isn’t happening. But it was, it was happening. He started shouting absolution prayers at the top of his lungs. I had lost the will to kneel. I slunk back into a corner of the cubicle. “Yeah, yeah, whatever,” I mumbled.


There it was, the final nail! My reputation was in tatters. That’s pretty much all I remember. The rest of the day was a blur.

Thank you for reading



The phone, the farmer, and the Batman.

The phone, the farmer, and the Batman.

“Now just where in the heck do you think you’re going?”

That was how my younger brother, aged nine, greeted a farmer who was walking up our driveway. He was standing, feet apart, holding a double barrel shotgun. The farmer stopped.

Our house was a three bedroom bungalow, on a two acre site, at the foot of one big mountain.

My dad worked as a farming advisor for the Department of Agriculture. He was very generous with his time and farmers were always made welcome at our house after office hours. They would arrive with A4 sized forms (when unrolled and the dog ears straightened). My dad would spend many an evening at our kitchen table, filling in the paperwork for these country folk.

I could tell what sort of work each man had undertaken that day just by the smell of him. Sheep dip and the smell of silage are two that spring to mind. It would drive my mother crazy as the smell would linger after they were gone. But my dad would always defend them; “Some of those men can neither read nor write, but it’s people like that who keep us in food, literally,” as he would open wide the kitchen window.

Even though they irked her, she would always make them tea.

I remember one evening when dad was sitting with a farmer at the table, going through the questions, and scribbling as he did so. “…and how many children do you have?”

“Eleven,” the man answered.

Just then my mother plonked two mugs of tea in front of them.

“Thank you Missus. He’s a great man your husband. Without him, I wouldn’t have a clue where to put anything.”

Mammy, on her way back to the sink goes “Hmph! Eleven children, you seem to know where certain things go.”

The man and my dad laughed. Mammy didn’t. And I was too young to get it.

Ours was the only house to have a phone for miles around. Remember this was rural Ireland of the seventies and eighties. Daddy had it to keep in contact with his headquarters in Dublin. I remember the first phone we had. It was beige in colour with just one black button where the finger dial should have been. To make a call, one had to lift the receiver, press the button and an operator would then speak to you.

My older brother was bad. His favourite telly show in those days was Batman. There would always be a crime which was too big for the local cops to handle and they would have to use the direct line to Batman. They had the same phone as ours, only red instead of beige.

On numerous occasions my brother would go “This is a case for Batman,” and head straight to the phone. I witnessed him tell the operator of bank robberies, kidnappings, and evil jokers trying to take over Gotham city. Myself and my younger brother would be in stitches, egging him on.

As I said, we lived at the foot of a mountain. There was a field containing sheep behind the house. One day the three of us were playing cowboys outside when Robbie, a local farmer, parked at the foot of the driveway and started to walk up with his little collie dog. He was taking a short cut through our site to count his sheep.

No harm in it. This was Ireland, the land of a hundred, thousand welcomes. But not today. Today this was the wild west, where everybody was a potential rustler.

My younger brother casually strolled into the path of Robbie. And with his best cowboy accent asks Robbie where he’s headed. The man, being shy at the best of times, stopped in his tracks.

“I.. I.. I’m just going up to count the animals.”

“Not today you’re not! This here’s private property.” Then he kind of turned his head sideways whilst still keeping his eyes on Robbie and spat on the ground. He was deep in character alright. This was oscar material.

“Now I suggest you turn around, take your mutt with you, and head on back to Tibucktoo. Either that or both barrels. You getting me, old-timer?”

The next thing I heard was Mammy knocking on the kitchen window behind me. She shouted something at my brother, but he didn’t hear her. He was miles away on a ranch. She came running out of the house took him by one arm and gave him a smack on his behind.

She apologised profusely to Robbie and assured him safe passage through this bandit country we called home.

Thank you for reading





In a roundabout way

In a roundabout way

Sometimes I could strangle her!

I arrived home to a packed house, just now. Fridays are always a free-for-all in our house. My nieces and nephews and their parents all stop by for tea and a chat on their way back from shopping in town. So it’s always a nice welcome home at the end of the week.

“Hey, there he is,” goes my brother-in-law, as I reach into the fridge for a beer. Then it happens. From the other corner of the kitchen my wife’s voice rises above everybody.

“Oh did I tell you about Frankie?” and her as proud as punch.

Time stood still. Please God, please! Don’t let her tell them. I looked over in her direction. I could see her mouth moving but it was in slow motion. Just like a movie when it slows down for dramatic effect.

“Fraaankieee staaarted aaa blllogggg.”

Talk about Twilight Zone! I hadn’t felt time slow this much since one night I stumbled out of  a “smoking café” in Amsterdam.

Then came the questions; What do you blog about? What is it called? Do people follow your posts?

I dismissed the blog as nothing. Just a spot of meaningless scribbling to plug a gap in the evening. I think I threw them off the scent, fingers crossed.

But I know my darling will bring it up again at a later date. Believe me, she will, I just know. So I reckon it’s best pull my socks up from now on and get some structure to this dribble.

Earlier today I got another shock. I met a car coming the wrong way around a roundabout. I managed not to drive over him and he managed to find an exit before a tragedy occurred. Male drivers! Tut-tut.

Apparently there are no roundabouts in the USA. As far as I know Traffic Lights rule the day, over there. I am coming to the end of my first week of blogging and I want to say a public Thank you to anybody who has given me encouragement by way of a Like or Comment or what have you. I really appreciate it. And I hope to write quality blogs instead of just acting the maggot. There are lots of top shelf writers on WordPress. By top shelf  I don’t mean those, you know,  magazines. I mean top quality literature. I hope to learn from all here.

I would like in a roundabout way to give a wee mention to a girl from Louisiana, USA, who has been more than generous with her advice and comments thus far. She is one of those who try their hand at all the arts and in my opinion make it look it easy. Looking at her paintings and poems you would never guess she speaks Cajun and chews tobacco just like ringing a bell!

I better go back out and face the music. I’ll tell them I blog about the roundabout of life. Where we come in, do a lap then exit, hopefully without having killed anyone. Isn’t that right, Darling?

Thank you for reading



If those dentures could talk.

If those dentures could talk.

I have a little toy on the dashboard of my truck. A miniture set of dentures which, when wound up, will chatter away till their heart’s content.  I think it was one of the kids who stuck them there with chewing gum during a  “helping Daddy drive” day, a couple of years ago.

When I was a boy my mother would attempt to make me laugh by popping her dentures half way out and crossing her eyes.  I can’t remember if it made me laugh or vomit. But i remember how it transferred her face to the point where it was unrecognisable. Then she would suck them back in and say something like “Mocking is catching!”

There was a story she used to tell – she did that a lot, tell the same stories over and over, only the stories which got a laugh. But she never seemed to grasp that the stories decreased in funniness with each repetition.

But she used to tell about an incident which happened in her home town, Derry in Northern Ireland, during the second world war.

The story goes that there was a growing fear that Derry and Belfast, being part of the UK,  would be bombed by the Nazi planes. So one evening an evacuation was hurriedly organised. There were trucks and buses waiting at the end of each street to take people across the border to the safety of Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.

The residents were running down the streets in their droves. An elderly couple, Agnes and Willy, were among them. Suddenly Agnes stops. “I have to go back!”

“What for?” asked Willy.

“My teeth. I forgot my teeth.”

Willy dragged her by the hand “C’mon woman! It’s Bombs they’re dropping, not sandwiches!”


Thanks for the stories Mammy. They’re stuck like chewing gum in my mind.