Tag Archives: Ireland

Mattie Lennon Irish Poet/Songwriter- The DVD SUNRISE ON THE WICKLOW HILLS, Will Be Broadcast

SUNRISE ON THE WICKLOW HILLS, the DVD, will be broadcast at 7.00 PM (Irish time) every evening , for a week, from Sunday 23rd December, 2012.  online at http://www.anlar.tv,

Mattie Lennon <mattielennon@gmail.com>;

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Mattie Lennon Author- HAM AND HAY a short extract from a memoir

HAM AND HAY a short extract from a memoir

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 31st October. 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 it’s accuracy; he had once described Tighe as being; “ As thick as bottled pig-shite in a bottle with a twist in it”

Once in the station another Garda had something to say. This 31 year old, 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.

Nash’s body language (as he replaced a nail-file in his tunic pocket) 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. (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.

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; his only comment to me was: “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 put a lock upon his lips
And make his face a mask

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 Finan’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 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.

The cell-door bold hit home with an unpleasant metallic sound. 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 Gardai, 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 think. Will I go out for yer father?”
When I once again protested my innocence this, Sligo bogman, who wouldn’t ever stand if he could sit, said, “We know certain tings Matt”. 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. “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 though 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.”

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”.)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.
I had to walk the five miles back to Kylebeg and tell my parents, “They’re blaming me for burning the Hollow-Backed-Lad’s rick.”

Reply to Mattie Lennon at info@mattielennon.com


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Nicholas Grene Author- NOTHING QUITE LIKE IT


by Nicholas Grene


Thursday November 10th 2011 7:00 PM

at Glucksman Ireland House NYU

NOTHING QUITE LIKE IT: An American Irish Childhood reveals the unusual youth of author Nicholas Grene. Having been transplanted from Chicago, Illinois to rural Wicklow in the 1950’s, the memoir tells of Grene’s experiences on the family farm, attending the local Protestant National School, and later living at boarding schools in Drogheda and Belfast. The book launch will take place at the Glucksman Ireland House NYU. Admission is free for members/$10 general admission.


Glucksman Ireland House NYU Irish Studies Program

Organizer(s): Glucksman Ireland House NYU

Venue: Glucksman Ireland House NYU

Taken from the Irish Emigrant

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Mattie Lennon Playwright- AND ALL HIS SONGS WERE SAD


a full-length play by Mattie Lennon

Mattie Lennon’s play AND ALL HIS SONGS WERE SAD is based on the life and works of the late Sean McCarthy.

It was staged by the Pantagleize Theatre Group in Fort Worth, Texas in October 2010.

Recordings of all featured songs available on request.

For more information about the play and Mattie Lennon go to mattielennon.com

Poet, author, folklorist and traditional music aficionado, with a penchant for holding forth at length on the little vignettes and foibles of human nature that many others pass by unnoted, Mattie Lennon welcomes you to his own place in Cyberspace mattielennon.com

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