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Mattie Lennon Irish – BREAD AN’ MATE

BREAD AN’ MATE..

  By Mattie Lennon

It has been said that the first duty of a gentleman is to keep out of the hands of the police. Up to the time of writing I have carried out my gentlemanly duties, in that respect, every day of my life, with one exception. That was Tuesday 04th November 1969 when I was the victim of a wrongful arrest.

At 11:15 A.M. and I was feeding our one and only bonham. A car bearing the roof-sign of our National Guardians of the Peace stopped at the gate of our humble abode at Kylebeg. It was driven by a 38 year old farmer’s son, Paddy Browne, from Kenmare. He shared a surname with the one-time Earls of Kenmare but a Protestant farmer who had rented a house to him had once told me that there wasn’t much evidence of any nobility connection. The observer was a 44-year-old son-of-the-soil from Kilmorgan, Co. Sligo. His Name was Bill Tighe. (Up to that moment I had little dealings with either officer apart from meeting them during Census-taking. I knew that they referred to me as “the Poet”, which was understandable since I was in the habit of linking, even the most grim situation to a poetic allusion.) Despite their agricultural background they had no compunction about taking me away from my pig-feeding, when they asked me to accompany them to Blessington Station.

If my neighbours hadn’t known me as well as they did no doubt the would have been;” Wondering if the man had done a great or little thing”.

Didn’t the poet say;

To every Irishman on earth,

Arrest comes soon or late.

While Browne reversed the Squad-car down our narrow lane Tighe revealed to me that I had stolen an unspecified quantity of ham on Friday 24th October. Although I was no Phrenologist, looking at his profile from the back seat I recalled a comment made by one of my neighbours.  Whatever about the grammatical correctness of the observation I was now tempted to accede to its accuracy; he had once described Tighe as being;  “ as thick as the butt end of a horse’s bollocks that never saw anything only shite.”  And, at that moment, I became a bit more tolerant of those who drew the cartoons of the Irish in the 19th century Punch magazine.

Once in the station another Garda had something to say. This 31 year old was Willie Nash, from Gurtnacrehy, Co. Limerick. (You may not have heard of Gurtnacrehy; the only time the word crops up is in the names of Greyhounds.)  Nash was so well turned out that he was like a male mannequin compared to his more bucolic colleagues.  When he first came to Blessington in January 1962 he was a useful man on the football field and sported a crew-cut. Now he was opting for a (slightly belated) Beatle look. He imparted the additional information that I had maliciously burned a rick of hay, the property of Dan Cullen, on Saturday 27th September. I didn’t share the view of the local farmer who, at the time, said, “There was only one mistake; that he wasn’t in it when they lit it.”

Nash’s body language (as he replaced a nail-file in his tunic pocket, having checked his reflection in the window ) proclaimed his lack of self-esteem and the fact that he was well aware of my innocence. His rhetorical question: “Would it surprise you to know that you were seen lighting it?” was slightly off the mark (not to mention off the wall).

I knew, through my own sources, that a quantity of ham had been reported stolen in Ballinastockan. (I wasn’t told if it was a quarter or a half pound) but I doubted the authenticity of the crime. As the interrogation progressed I became more convinced that the case of the purloined bacon should enter the annals along with The Easter Bunny, the Unicorn and a few pre-election promises.  I knew that there wasn’t a great tradition of steling foodstuffs in the Lacken/Ballinastockan area; the last recorded theft of that nature was pertaining to an incident, during the Civil War, on 15th September 1922. Edward Grace, a Merchant, from Ballymore Eustace had some loaves stolen from two of his vans in Ballyknockan and Lacken on that day.

Despite being the victim of the dirtiest trick ever played on me, being spoken to like an imbecile, humiliated, embarrassed and treated like a criminal I refused to confess to two fictitious crimes. (It’s at times like this the words of Ethel Rosenberg spring to mind; “I am innocent……to forsake this truth is to pay too high a price”). The Sergeant, looking less than prepossessing and more than his thirty-seven years, gave the OK to have me locked in a cell. Maurice O ‘Sullivan, ex-Mental Nurse (known as a “keeper” at the time), from Slaheny, Co. Kerry, was very concise.  Not living up to his family’s nickname of “The Long Maurices” he drew himself up to his full five-foot nine and a half inches, pretended to read from a manilla folder  and told me  : “I have enough evidence here to charge you”.  Perhaps his past was the reason for the brevity;

For he to whom a watcher’s doom

Is given as his task

Must set a lock upon his lips

Etc.

Did the experience in his previous life prompt him to believe that I was the sort, so much in awe of authority, who would confess to anything? Although it was fifteen years since he surrendered his badge in Saint Fenan’s  Hospital, Killarney, the “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Syndrome” obtained; He still thought that he could do what he liked? (“…for in a madhouse there exists no law”).

I thought of William Blackstone who said; ” It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer”. I soon reminded myself that Mr. Blackstone didn’t spend four years working in a Kerry asylum.)

When I was told,  “You’ll get out when you tell us the truth” I took on board my neighbour’s opinion of the speaker. And the farmer’s boots and sly smile I saw as further evidence that Tighe was not a member of Mensa, would not appreciate Tennyson, and so I thought it would be futile to quote;

 

This truth within thy mind rehearse,

That in a boundless universe

Is boundless better, boundless worse.

My father always said that I would “hear the grass growing” and now I became acutely aware of my better –than- average auricular ability. Sound- proofing had not been a consideration in the design of the cell-door and I could hear every word spoken in the day-room. Industrial-relations matters, within the Gardaí, were touched on lightly before a turn in the conversation that was very interesting and informative; but that is a story for another day. Suffice, for now, to say that there was paraphrasing of the words of Thomas Jefferson; “ We have the wolf by the ears and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale and self-preservation on the other”

I knocked on the cell door. It immediately opened and framed Nash, who I felt was of the opinion that I needed taking down a peg. I studied his face. Why? Because Jim Blake who worked for Paddy Crotty had told me, “That Nash fella has square eyes.” He didn’t. While his optical hemispheres displayed the shiftiness of the insecure they were of regular shape.

He insisted on pretending that I was a suspect and closed the door.

When next I knocked on the cell-door it was opened by Tighe who told me, (why I don’t know) “The sergeant is gone out on another big job”. This was followed by, “Yer father says he doesn’t know what to tink. Will I go out for yer father?” When I once again protested my innocence this, ignorant, lazy, gobshite, who wouldn’t ever stand if he could sit, said, “We know certain tings Matt”. He didn’t specify what the “ things” with the silent “h” wre.)  He closed the door slowly . . . like he did everything else.

When again I knocked with a hope of being released Browne uncovered the spyhole. His eye, viewed through the small rectangle of light, didn’t look friendly.

I was sitting on a wooden bench with some sort of a “tic” on it. Hey! . . . Didn’t  I read on the Leinster Leader about a Ballinastockan man being fined ten pounds for pissing on a mattress in the cell of Blessington Garda station? (Of course it wasn’t worded so in the “Leader”.)

“Are you going to tell us about this fire?”. Guard Browne enquired. Now secure in the knowledge that they knew I wasn’t guilty of anything I didn’t protest my innocence. I simply asked; “Are you going to let me out?”

Browne didn’t reply. He opened the cell door and allowed me into the day room. As he lit a Goldflake butt with a paper spill from the open fire he again accused me of arson. As I looked at his well-worn shoes and archaic wristwatch I thought of his economy-consciousness which his former Sergeant, Frank Reynolds,  had told me about. My comment about the coldness of the cell and my plea to be left in the Day-room fell on deaf, Kenmare, ears. As he dragged on the ignited butt I was sternly told to “get back in.”

I would compile a letter to the Minister for Justice. But that could wait. This was as good a time as any to make a start on a parody. The air of “ The Oul Alarm Clock” would do fine;

“I was told we’re going to charge you

With the burning of a rick,

By Nash and Tighe and Sullivan,

An’ Paddy Browne the prick.”

 

The cell door opened. Garda Willie Nash told me, “We’re lettin’ ye out but we’ll be takin’ ye in agin.”  He wasn’t a man of his word; I haven’t seen the inside of that cell since.

Mattie Lennon  mattielennon@gmail.com

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- ON RAGLAN ROAD

ON RAGLAN ROAD.

By Mattie Lennon

“Only in you my song begins and ends.” So wrote Philip Sidney.

 When we are intrigued, uplifted or moved by a song how often do we know where it began?

  Most Irish love-songs were inspired by women. But who were these women? When you listened to Luke Kelly belting out “Raglan Road” or Brendan O Dowda’s rendition of the haunting “Gortnamona”did you wonder who the objects of the composition were?   Gerry Hanberry’s latest book “On Raglan Road – Great Irish Love Songs and the Women Who Inspired Them”   gives the story  of the unrequited love in Patrick Kavanagh’s life when the   Medicanl Student, Hilda Moriarty admired his talent but didn’t want any romantic involvement with the 40 year old poet.  This  inspired the poem   “Raglan Road”.  The book also tells  the stories behind of thirteen  other Irish love songs and in-dept biographical accounts of their authors..  We are told in great detail who the real “Galway Girl”,Nancy Spain” and “Grace” were.  Thin Lizzy’s  “Sarah”, Mick Hanly’s “Past the Point Of Rescue”  and  Johnny Duhan’s  “The Voyage” all have strong and beautiful  women behind them.  The devastating death of Percy’s Frenh’s first wife at a  young age prompted him, in his grief, to compose “Gortnamona”. Whatever about every good man having a woman behind him does every good song have a woman behind it?  

      GerryHanberry has published four collections of poetry to date and also a biography of the Wilde family,  “More Lives Than One – The Remarkable Wilde Family Through the Generations”  and four collections of poetry .   In 2000 he won the prestigious  Originals Short Story prize in Listowel Writers’ Week.     Having won the  Sunday Tribune/Hennessy Award in 2000 he went on to win the  Strokestown Prize 2003 and RTÉ’s Rattlebag Poetry Slam  also in 2003.  In the Summer of 2004 he  won the Brendan Kennelly*/Sunday Tribune Poetry Award  and he also  won the Galway City and Co. Council’s Poetry Award for National Poetry Day 2009 and  he has been shortlisted for many of Ireland’s top poetry prizes .  Apart from his writing he is acoustic guitarist and vocalist with the great Rock, Country, Blues band The Atlantic Rhythm Section.

   He has been invited to read and deliver workshops at many literature festivals and been broadcast on Lyric FM, Galway Bay FM, Newstalk, Midwest Radio, Cape Cod Radio in the US, Ireland’s RTÉ and in Australia.   He holds an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway, where he teaches a Creative Writing course to undergraduates. He is also a teacher of English at St. Enda’s College, Salthill. He was a journalist during the 1980s and 1990s, writing a weekly column for the Galway Observer under the name “Joe Barry”. In addition he performs regularly as a singer-songwriter. He runs  creative writing and poetry appreciation workshops and delivers talks on his non-fiction works around them .  He is available to give a reading or talk, sing or play  and can be contacted at ;gerryhanberry@gmail.com

*P.S.  I hope Gerry doesn’t mind me using the following; In 2004 Brendan Kennelly wrote “ Raglan Lane “, a celebratory  “poemsong “ that gives Patrick Kavanagh a moment of happy fulfilment rather than a climax of disappointment.

                                               RAGLAN LANE.

In Raglan Lane, in the gentle rain, I saw dark love again,

Beyond belief, beyond all grief, I felt the ancient pain,

The joyful  thrust of holy lust, I stretched on heaven’s floor,

One moment burned what the years had learned and I was wild once more.

The years’ deep cries in her sad eyes became a source of light,

The heavy gloom  and sense of doom changed to pure delight,

And as we walked and talked we knew one thing for sure,

That love is blessed togetherness and loneliness is poor.

Then I grew rich with every touch, we loved the whole night long,

Her midnight hair bon the pillow there became an angel’s song,

Her happy skin, beyond all sin, was heaven opened wide,

But as the dawn came slyly on, I slept and she left my side.

Why  did she go? I’ll never know, nor will the gentle rain,

Her up and go was a cruel blow, and yet I felt no pain

For I had known her body and soul, in my own loving way,

So I lay and thanked the God of love at the dawning of the day.

Mattie Lennon  mattielennon@gmail.com

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- FIELDS OF RYE

   FIELDS OF RYE

                                                                          By Mattie Lennon.

  Des Garvin was born and reared in the townland of Shrataggle, County Mayo.  In his recently published book “Fields of Rye”, he uses Shrataggle as a blackboard to illustrate life in all of rural Ireland in the last century and before.

   Traditional music was always one of his passions and he has been a leading light in Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireannn for many decades.   Involved in Peace Groups in Northern Ireland for thirty years his leadership ability became evident as a young teenager.  When Rural  Electrification was introduced to his native heath  the Ground Rents proposed by the ESB was exorbitant. He tells us, “ . . . the ground rent on our house was calculated at £15and that was payable every two months. Today, that is roughly the equivalent of €290, and it was extortion plain and simple.”

   It was highly unlikely that any of  Des’s neighbours would sign up. Out of economic necessity there were forced to say no.  Tony Blair said that the art of leadership is to say no but Des wouldn’t agree.

   The young boy from Strataggle convinced all and sundry to say “yes”  despite the  outrageous price quoted,  “ at least until the lines arrived in the village.”  The result? The ESB was left with no choice but to join the village to the network.  As luck would have it, between the beginning of the project and the houses of Shrataggle being connected the government of the day introduced a subsidy which reduced the ground rent to £2 every two months. The island of Inishlyre, in Clew Bay, County Mayo, was only connected to the national grid in September 2000. Obviously they didn’t ever have a young Des Garvin living there!

   An in-depth genealogical analysis of Garvins, O’Malleys,  Cormacks,  Gilroys and every other family that inhabited Des’s part of Mayo for centuries is a collector’s item.  A photo gallery of 157 images contains pictures – including   “ The Bridge at Sharaggle and Last Rick of Hay”-  that would, otherwise, have been lost but are now moments frozen in time and recorded  for posterity.

  97 year-old   Catherine Garvin, from  Shrataggle, has  been living in New York since 1939.  She educated herself and had a very successful  career in the travel trade and later the legal and banking business. She was one of 40 travel agents on board, in April 1958, when Aer Lingus introduced its trans-Atlantic service with the Seaboard Super Constellation.   A few months ago Des interviewed her for his book. She told him of how she attended secretarial school after arriving in New York and became proficient in shorthand and typing.  ( And . . . whether cutting turf in Mullach Padda Bhain or negotiating with people who were key figures  in the Good Friday agreement, Des Garvin would leave no stone unturned .)  He gave the Shrataggle  nonagenarian  a sentence and asked her to reproduce it in Pitman shorthand .  She produced the result, ” . . .in moments.”

   The author doesn’t go overboard in blowing the trumpet of his own family. Although he does point out that his aunt Anne, who worked as a cook in the Royal Victoria Club in Leeds,  was responsible for introducing chips and Yorkshire pudding to Shrataggle.

  Some years ago  Cllr Joe Mellett, , said of John Healy, that other great writer from Mayo : “He’s a guy that we can associate with especially in bad times. He made the rest of the country aware of what was happening then.”   The comment also describes Des Garvin. Wren-boys, Cillins, Missioners, blasting with gelignite , illicit distilling and travelling shows  feature. It’s all there.

   In my working days Des  was my boss for a number of years  and  am I  glad that I didn’t ever cross swords with him. What would be the point of taking on somebody who, when barely out of short trousers, convinced a stubborn rural community to take action against a semi- State body that would result in an 87% reduction in ground rents?

      Details of “Fields of Rye are  on;  www.shrataggle.com

Mattie Lennon    mattielennon@gmail.com

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- HELLO

 Mattie Lennon   mattielennon@gmail.com

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- CHRISTMAS READING FROM IRELAND

 

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Alex Nunns Author- THE CANDIDATE: JEREMY CORBYN’S IMPRBABLE PATH TO P0WER

CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR
ALEX NUNNS’

THE CANDIDATE: JEREMY CORBYN’S IMPROBABLE PATH TO POWER

“Fascinating … Alex Nunns’ book is so important.” —John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

“The best researched account I’ve seen to date.” —Clive Lewis, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

“A valuable, insightful account … too well-reported not to read.”
—Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian

“If you’ve been inspired by the movement growing around Jeremy Corbyn … this is the book for you.” —Liam Young, The Independent

“Detailed and compelling. And convincing about the roots of his success… Great combo of facts and analysis.” —Rob Burley, the Andrew Marr show

“Insightful… As far as the leader’s closest allies are concerned, Nunns’s book is the most authoritative yet published on his rise.”
—Stephen Bush, The New Statesman

“Unparalleled… a really riveting read… Outstanding.”
—Aaron Bastani, Novara Media

“[Alex Nunns] has a way with words … a fantastic book.”
—George Galloway

“Remarkable… reads like a political thriller … enormously exciting …”
Red Labour

“Grippingly told … [does] a real service in explaining [Corbyn’s] path to power.” —Labour Briefing

“Superb. The most thorough and best researched book on the Corbyn phenomenon …” —Asa Winstanley, The Electronic Intifada

“Well-written, clear and analytically sharp.” —James Meadway, economic advisor to John McDonnell

“Based on interviews with almost all the leading players … a superb tour.”
—Leo Panitch, Red Pepper

“Told with verve and insight … An immensely readable and well researched book.” —Counterfire

“Superbly brings into clarity the … processes that facilitated Corbyn’s rise.” —Review 31

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- “POETRY MY ARSE” AND “FUCK YOU JACKSON”

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