Posted by Butch on June 27, 2001 at 19:13:49:
Anthony O Hora was siting on the ditch by The boireen, and Tom Moran's field, when a large touring car pulled up on the other side of the road ."Excuse me Sir," came the laconic drawl of an american tourist , "Could you give me directions to Mallranny? Straight Ahead Sir! Came the immediate reply. As the tourist pulled away one must reconcile the various answers that Anthony of Newport may have given. As he was in his own world so are we in ours . As I came into the kitchen, Anthony was sitting over in the corner . Stephen was in the corner directly opposite. Dad was across the way, past the desktop. Grandad was in the chair! .Tim was seated to the left of the back door leaning on the desk, I slipped by ,to see, Anthony reading the newspaper and the men talking . Whats wrong! The Newspaper was upside down!. A knowing look by Granny at the fire told all. A smile and the realisation that all men are NOT EQUAL, bore me outside to the NEW world that I was privliged to live in .Was it before then ? that we played cruelty upon Anthony O' Houra stuffing his bed in the barn , with nettles ,and stones, and sticks and suffering in latter days, as the pain of recrimination to a fellow human becomes obvious not merley as the pranks of childless adolescents but more so as a supposed theory that children can be cruel . Anthony was our man Friday. Mainly working for the Granny on the farm and helping the old man with his garden. He later moved from the barn to Granny's house and had his own table in the back kitchen. A man of few words, he toiled in our gardens,took his hat off when he came into the house Polite,and yes Mamm ,and no Sir. He would growl at us little pups snapping at his feet.And smile when we were nice to him. For many years a member of the family,before old age overtook him, and he was brought to the County Home like Johnny Mc Hale ,Tom Moran* and Tempus *! after him. My Dad would bring him tobacco and other essentials every week . That the meek shall inherit the earth, and bad little boys cast into cauldrons of boiling nettles.If Anthony was to be found on that ditch of a Sunday afternoon smoking his pipe, and was asked directions to the moon, the reply would remain the same and did!. Straight Ahead Sir!. The ditch ran into the summer ,it had a a narrow path on top that we could walk upon .It was only so long from the post on Granny's gate to the boireen before you fell into the briars. An Irish impenetrable hedge of thorns , brambles, and bushes of succulent berries, Blackerry ,Blueberry and Goosberry all for the risking . We had been soliciting funds and fuel for the bonfire for some weeks now . The fire would be built just a few feet from the main Castlebar to Newport road on the boireen. Mrs Flynn, lived at the top of her hill, still . She had a small farm with a couple of dairy cows and a friendly dog like herself ,and would come quietly down to join the festivities, along with Annie Brown and old Mrs Kenny, Mrs Tierney would be there to liven everyone up, and Bridie would keep the talk flowing and Enda Kenny and his wife ,The Mulchrones might show ,that was as far back the Newport Rd. that we foraged , The Irwins , whose contributions of shillins and precious sods of turf were greatfully appreciated The Mc,Hales ,the Daly's ,and The Cawley's ,The O Haires, The Carney's, and The Faddens,all good folk who had thrown a few bob our way and more turf ,The Howards, The Mc Nalley's And The MacManamans, from the borders of Blackfort, and the Stantons from Snugboro. My alliance with Peter And Neil McGough now stood me well as the owners of a sweet and pop shop, more could be had for less with a few extr'as thrown in from the kind hand of Mrs. McGough . Lemonade ,soda pop, cidona, sweets ,chocolate ,and cake, would be served that evening ,to anybody who came.
The construction of the fire was a serious undertaking, for if the fire consumed the fuel too quickly then the party was over , and would be considered bad luck. If the fire got out of control, and spread then a different kind of party would ensue!. A balanced fire was desired ,not too hot so people could sit around .And not all consuming to avoid premature extinguish. For this a log was needed, to anchor the blaze and burn slowly. A log thus procured ,provided the centerpiece of the furnace, thick sticks and wood kindling ,were laid against the log ,old newspapers wrapped tightly in balls were intersped amongst the wood as incendiary devices.A layer of turf was now placed all around . A circular brickwork of peat extending outwards , upwards,and finally inwards . Like an eskimo's igaloo. A small tunnel had been made allowance for, on the bottom, facing the road ,about six inches square to allow air to feed the flame,and to start the fire.Finally a chain of rocks encompassed the structure for protection and stored heat. It was bonfire night in the west of Ireland ! A celebration of the fire , That fire that keeps the chill out, of a cold winters night,that boils the kettle for the te.The eternal flame .The word. I suppose you could it call it a bench that you sit on. We call it a form (pronounced fur -om). A plank of wood resting on two uprights .As practical or intricate as the builder desires. In the absence of a chair, allowing two or more people to sit on one device at the same time fostering in it's simplicity , economy of space, and communal sharing . Furoms were requested from the closest houses , and placed in a circle around the fire. A small table was furnished by the side of the ditch,and filled with confectionery ,sweets, and refreshments of every kind. Parafin oil was used to help start the fire, and the sun went to America for the night. The seats slowly filled up ,and the children played around the fire ,staying away from the sweets untill the elders got theirs . The women with their black shawls not forgetting , celebrating another tradition feared lost in the maelstorm of modern progress. Here comes Maggie and Josie Brown, Pat and Mary Carney . Everybody ! back ! now! It's Johnny Mc Hale coming back from town in his mobile farm. An automobile modified to carry straw, pigs, dogs .eggs, milk ,hens , and Bridie to Mass as well . Room had been allowed for this event, Johnny pulls the vehicle over down by the well and comes to join the fun with Tom Moran Sr. his pipe balanced firmly between his remaining two front teeth . Johnny's wife Bridie was already seated ,along with Tommy Mc Hale and Family,the Mulchrone girls , The Cawley girls. Granny Daly has arrived very colourfull and delighted to find her clan "The Mc Hales'. Refreshments are served and the the sweets doled out ,.A moment here to thank the organizers , Peter Cawley ,Jimmy Tierney, Joseph Daly , who showed us how to build a great fire, Peter and Neil Mcgough ,my good buddy Noel Cawley ,and sisters Margo and Assumpta, Aggie and Maureen O haire and the leader of the next generation to continue the tradition Ibor Carney, Oh! Look here comes Jimmy Daly with his accordion , the tempo picks up and the bonfire sparkles in rosy heat and red flame, drawing the community closer. Cars stop on the road to enjoy the spectacle , it was okay for cars to stop on the road in nineteen fifty six ,.We wer'nt really going anywhere in a hurry then, except past the Raheens woods lodge gates, on our bicycles . Noel and I ! were intending to rob the vast and fruit laden orchards of Raheens . This was our third or fourth vist to the mysterious woods . It was on one of these visits that we had discovered the huge garden of pears and apples, sweet juicy, ripe for the taking. And like every garden of delight , from Eden to Babylon ,would ensnare those who succumbed to greed and want .For after we had sampled the fruit like nature intended ,we came back for more, with burlap sack!. The Gymkhana was held deep into "Raheens Woods". A festive occasion .The grounds decked out with carnival coloured stalls of food and chance. Bustling activities of horses and men . The showground itself , was an obstacle course of ditches and moats with walls and fences for the horses to jump over . A stage in the middle ,with megaphone and loudspeaker, anouncing with pomp, the onset of the next event. The finest of Bulls and heifers, dogs and ponies ,were paraded before the judges ,and all . In their gaily bannered stalls . Throughout the day rosetta's of every hue declared to you , that pinned to the neck of a bovine or ewe, was a prize you grew. The countrywomen baked with declaration of pride,a loaf or pie with a rosy wafted smell, that caught your eye. Pinned in the middle of a rounded bun was a label that spelt Mrs. Mac FUN. There was a wheel on a stall that clicked as it swung hoping to land on the number you rung ,fearing a failure to cast me a rhyme I now leave the poetry to old Man Time. The showjumping competition was held to the last. Grand looking men and elegant ladies, clad in jodphurs and black boots all carrying a small whip and cap now vied for the number one spot in the show. Rode their horses around the course for all to see. The magnificent animals panting and snorting , their nostrils flaring ,their hooves pounding the turf ,clods flying. Each now, singled out by the judge to try the course , every breath letting out as the pair sucessfully negotiated a fence ,breath being sucked in as the rider approached the wall the oohs and aahs heard when the back foreleg knocked a post off the fence costing a valuable point or a horse shying from the moat, to turn around and try again ,failure breeds failure and spawns SUCCESS. Lady Browne, did not fare so well in the Gymkhana . .For her the Gymkhana were the woods themselves .The stalls of chance replaced by a never ending adventure of riding through unknown vails of green, moss covered forests .Acres of streams and trees to navigate the obstacle course , the changing of the seasons would provide all the colour she would ever need, far from Paris or Rome .The brilliand reds of the wild roses , bright yellow of the delicate primrose , the bluebells dancing. The noise of the crowd replaced by the singing of the birds ,the cuckoo and the corncrake in the spring ,the bluebird and the jay , the nightingales song floating on the westren wind . The rustic ambered leaves like conffetti falling on her delicate face. Her dogs hurrying after her every movement, their breath and tongues hanging out trying to keep pace with her stallion, past herefords, and bulls descended from Queen Maeve .In the misty morning distance lay the valley of the young . Deep into Raheens woods a monument was erected, a towering Monolith , overlooking the forest and the showgrounds. Dedicated to The Lady Browne. . It might have been a snake! in the garden of Eden that caused the horse to shy!. We scrambled over the ditch about one furlong from the closed lodge gates leaning the bikes against the bushes . We headed off into the woods. In the quiet part of Raheens forest where the trees form a canopy over your head and moss blankets the sound of dry branches crackling under your feet there lies an abandoned large house of red brick ,a skeleton of walls is all that remains and dubious floorboards with gaping holes. We throw rocks at shards of glass that missed the previous onslaught, and move on . We don't talk much ,The walls don't talk either ,We look around a lot . We move on? Hurrying now to the orchard our quest at hand. I am elected to climb and shake , Noel gathering the booty below, apples and pears dropping like flies, falling on his head, we'r laughing now, next tree trees ,I am shaking like billie' o, and look down to see our bags full and find myself staring down the barrel of a double ought shotgun! ,and Noel's silence, replaced by the growls of two black dogs, being held at bay by the groundskeeper while his two henchmen aimed their weapons at the robbers. We were clapped across the head and booted out of the orchard. Our feet never touched the ground , till we were safetly back on the road and headed for home. ~INTERMISSION~
Post a Followup