Tag Archives: Irish humor

Mattie Lennon Irish Author- THE BIG SWITCH


By Mattie Lennon

   Patrick P. O’ Reilly was giving a final dusting and polishing to the, already gleaming, surfaces in his Funeral parlour. William Smyth of Smyth & Miller, Commissioners for Oaths had passed away in a Dublin hospital. The remains would be arriving tomorrow morning and the elite of County Cavan would be calling in large numbers while the prominent citizen reposed.

   The distorted silhouette of “Skin” Brady, a farmer “from out the road” could be seen through the translucent Michael-the-Archangel etched  on the glass door. (“Skin” was an abbreviation of “Skin-the-louse” a sobriquet not attributed because of generosity.)

 “Skin”  was a regular visitor who would usually reply to Patrick P’s “How’s it going”? with “I’m trying to deprive you of a job for as long as I can.”

   Today was different. “I’m not the best . . Poor Philly Galligan that has worked with me for 20 year is after droppin’  dead at eleven o ‘clock this mornin’”   He has no one belongin to him and the least I can do is to take care of his funeral. I know you’ll do the job for me an’ ye won’t be too hard on me. Times is bad.”

   Arrangements were made and  “Skin” went on his way.

The next day he called in to the Funeral home to carry out a “progress check.” There were two open coffins. William Smyth resplendent in pin-stripe suit, white shirt and red tie was in one.

Philly Galligan dressed in the brown habit of Saint Frances, his gnarled fingers entwined by a Rosary beads was in the other.

   “Skin” payed his respects, made a token sign of the cross, and went into Patrick P. in the inner office.  As the undertaker lifted his head from the desk, “Skin” got down to business without preamble. “Patrick, d’ye know what I was thinkin”? The question was, or course rhetorical and treated as such. “I was thinkin’ that Philly was a good an’ loyal workman for twenty year. Sure didn’t he work up to eleven o clock the mornin’he died.” Patrick P., knowing there was more to come didn’t comment. “I was lookin’ at him there in the oul brown habit. Sure what’s the point. It looks kinda drab. It was different when there was an Indulgence for wearin’ it. Would you put in some kinda suit. Something like ye have on Smyth. Now . . ye needn’t go mad price-wise, but somethin’ fairly dacent.” Patrick P. nodded in agreement and  “Skin“ departed.

   When he returned in the evening William Smyth’s coffin was being wheeled out to the waiting hearse,followed by well groomed men of substance and fur-coated women, with a few of the peasantry bringing up the rear.

   Philly Galvin lay in his coffin dressed in suit, shirt and tie,better turned out than he ever was in life. “Skin” expressed his satisfaction to Patrick P. “ Fair play to ye, Ye did a good job . . how much extra is that”?

  “It’s OK” says Patrick P. “It’s on the house.”

 “Shin” knowing that he was now on safe ground made an elaborate theatrical gesture as if reaching for his wallet retorted, “ It must have cost ye something . . what do I owe ye”?  

 Patrick P. dismissed him with a wave of his hand. “It’s all right . . I switched the heads.”  

Mattie Lennon


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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- FRIDAY THE TWENTY-FIRST Friday is Armageddon


by Mattie Lennon

So next Friday is Armageddon! This date is regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.

At least part of our galaxy is going to disappear into a black hole (without any assistance from Anglo Irish Bank.)

This is not the first major prediction in recent times.

My late father found out somewhere that we were promised two thousand years with “a tilly in” not to mention a midland’s farmer I met in the late nineties. I gave him a lift to a match in Dublin, and apart from his endeavours to dispel my naïveté of the wiles of the female; he frightened the life out of me with some lesser-known Biblical revelations which he claimed would have particular relevance in the year 2000. According to him it wasn’t just computers that would be doomed at the millennium. (I nearly picked p a couple of on-the-spot fines in my haste to deposit him in the Metropolis- or somewhere – as quickly as possible).

That well-heeled film actor, Jean Claude Van Dame, learned that the end of the world was at hand some years ago, through a nuclear holocaust…..but only for Europe and America. So he bought thousands of acres of land in Australia. There he was going to keep a male and a female of every species he could find. He planned on rounding up animals two-by-two. But why didn’t he pick Asia or Africa? I mean, would you put, say, your sheep in Australia, knowing the pedigree of the inhabitants? I’d be the first to admit that futurists have been frighteningly accurate, at times, down the centuries. I wouldn’t be one to nit-pick and labour on the fact the nobody predicted the tribunals,Twitter that politicians would be caught taking back-handers or that we would own the Banks.

Since some predictions have been about as accurate as D’Unbelievables’ weather forecast, what about historical accuracy if, as Friedrich Von Schlegel claimed, “a historian is a prophet in reverse”?

Yet, the future has been foretold with amazing exactitude, since the beginning of time. Who could argue with T.S. Eliot’s assertion that “time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future and time future contained in time past”.

Nostradamus had many accurate predictions under his belt, including the manner of the death of Henry II of France. And even the most severe critics of Jean Dixon would have to give her some credit.

While I don’t intend buying any green bananas before Friday my trepidation is tempered by a stubborn if cagey skepticism. It dates back to my first long-trousers.

Let me explain. When, I was growing up it was normal for boys to wear short-trousers up to the age of fourteen. In 1959, my aunt in Coleraine who had a son a couple of years my senior sent me my first hand-me-down long trousers, which had to be consigned to mothballs until my 14th birthday. Since I had ultra-conservative parents, the tradition was honoured to the full. I had to serve the full sentence, with no remission for good behavior. By the time I was thirteen and a half, I began to see something incongruous about my bear knees and certain “manly” pastimes.

Now, in the late fifties an article appeared in a Catholic newspaper – was it the Standard or The Irish Catholic? – informing the Faithful of the imminent termination of the planet.
We didn’t manage to get our hands on the paper at home, but several
well-meaning neighbours, enlightened relatives and acquaintances met a fairs and Devotions, relayed the good tidings, piece-meal, to us; THERE WOULD BE THREE DARK DAYS IN 1960. Black pigs would walk the earth. The smell of brimstone would be stifling.
And no family would be together when this calamity would occur.

(I interpreted this latter as meaning that in the case of each family, unit,the father would be at the turf Rick, the mother would be in the cow-house and each of the offspring would be out playing a solitary game in a different part of the Inch).

1960 came and went. I attained the age of fourteen (and I haven’t used camphor balls since). I got my first bike. There were no dark days, in Kylebeg anyway. (Well not in the sense that we were deprived of diurnal illumination).

There was no smell worse than cow dung and rotten spuds evident, and there hasn’t been a dark member of the Porcine species seen in the area since the days of the Yorkshire pigs. So, seers past and present, I’ve heard what you have to say about flooding and disaster. I’m less spiritual but just as doubting as Thomas. So if you were to predict that; David Norris was getting married, Shane McGowan would visit the dentist, Michael-Healy Rae would be next Taoiseach or Wicklow would win the 2013 all Ireland Final I would treat it with a healthy skepticism. Wouldn’t you, if you had spent in initial years of your teens worrying that you were going to die in short trousers?

Mattie Lennon

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author/Poet- MEMOIR … Didn’t the poet say … To every Irishman on earth … arrest comes soon or late


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.

It was 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. 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 they 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 its 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. He was 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,(known locally as “the hollow-backed lad” due to a lumber peculiarity clinically known as Lordosis) on Saturday 27th September.

The hay had been burned accidently.

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. I also knew that Tight had already established that I couldn’t possibly have stolen it. 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 set a lock upon his lips


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, “It is better that ten guilty person’s 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, ignorant 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 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.”

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.” When I, later, requested information on my arrest and incarceration In received a document stating that An Garda Siochana were, “ . . . unable to reveal any personal data” to me. And in bold type it was proclaimed that the text was ,”Not to be construed as Proof of No Convictions, Garda Vetting, Security Clearence, Character Check, Character Reference or any cognate construct of same.”

In my capacity as Secretary of Lacken Fianna Fail Cumann I asked the Minister for Justice Michael O Moirean to hold an enquiry. He didn’t.

The following calendar of events may go some way towards explaining my wrongful arrest and unlawful detention more than forty years ago;

At 10.30AM on Friday 03rd April 1970 an alarm went off in the Central Detective Unit, Dublin Castle. The alarm wires of the Royal Bank of Ireland, Arran Quay, had been cut on a pole in Stable Lane, at the rear of the Bank.

Three men, dressed in battle dress, entered the Bank and one of them shouted; “This is a stick-up”.

As the Manager, Stanley Keegan, pressed the alarm one of the raiders vaulted the counter and grabbed about £2,000 from a cashier’s desk. The whole operation took less than three minutes. The nearest squad car, driven by Garda Pat Hunter, was in North King Street. Garda Hunter, with his colleagues Dick Fallon and Paul Firth sped to Arran Quay and arrived at the Bank while the raiders were still inside.

Garda Firth later said; “We pulled up outside the Bank and everything seemed quiet. He (Dick) was still on the right hand side as we approached the steps of the Bank. Three men came out of the Bank and they were carrying some bags. They were armed with revolvers. We were about three feet away from them when they just opened fire on us”.

43-year-old Garda Fallon, from Moneen, Co. Roscommon, followed the raiders up a laneway and was fatally wounded in the head. Eyewitnesses said that the raiders (five men in all) escaped in two cars, a gold coloured Cortina GT and a Volkswagen. The greatest manhunt of the decade was mounted and the Government offered a £5,000 reward

The issue of the Garda Review for May 1970 described Dick Fallon as,”… an outstanding policeman. The heroic manner of his death proves this and ensures also that his name and his bravery will be prominently stamped in the history of the Garda Siochana forever.”

The Gardai took the unprecedented step of publishing a list of men that they wished to interview. The Sunday Press of 05th April carried the names of seven men and on Tuesday 07th April an Irish Independent article quoted Gardai as saying “The killers are hiding some place near Dublin and will have to surface within the next few days”.

On Thursday 16th April, in Dail Eireann, Mr. Gerry L’Estrange T.D. asked the Minister for Justice?”Is the Minister further aware that on the evening of the Wicklow bank robbery the Garda authorities knew where these six men were”? There is no indication in Dail records that Mr. O Morain made any reply.

On Wednesday 29th April detectives from Dublin Castle headed for West Wicklow. A subsequent news report read: “… Chief superintendent John Fleming led a mixed force of his own heavily armed Special Branch Detectives and local uniformed Gardai into a galvanized-roofed two roomed cottage in remote West-Wicklow, used from time to time as a hide-out by seven wanted men… all wanted for questioning about the murder of Garda Dick Fallon. The raiding party was wryly amused by what they found lying on the floor… Some of the residents had been studying detective methods. Their reading matter included at least one copy of the American magazine ‘True Detective’. Also found in the cottage were items of clothing and other things indicating that it possibly had been used as a cache by an illegal organisation. Some of the clothing was of an army type”.

The officers from Dublin Castle established that seven men had rented the cottage in October 1969, at £3 per week from Jim Browe. They told Mr. Browe that they were students and were working at night for Telefis Eireann on Kippure.

A number of armed men dressed as Irish soldiers carried out a daring raid on a branch of the Hibernian Bank in Rathdrum, County Wicklow on Thursday 20th February 1970. It was assumed that the same gang had carried out the Arran Quay raid. They stayed in the cottage on the night of Sunday 05th April but did not return after that.

On Monday 04th May 1970 Michael O’Morain, Minister for Justice, resigned. Kevin Boland T.D. alleged that the resignation had been “requested” by An Taoiseach, Jack Lynch.

A few weeks before his resignation Mr. O’Morain had walked out of a dinner, given to honour the Irish Bar by the Advocate Society of Ontario. He objected to a remark made by the President of the Society, Mr. Joseph Sedgwick. Mr. Sedgwick was speaking about Serjeant Sullivan an Irish Barrister, involved in the defence of Roger Casement and the last holder of the legal title “His Majesty’s Serjeant at Law”. It didn’t suit Mr. O Morain. He had also been in a continuous tangle with Telefis Eireann about a “Bank Robbers” programme in the “Seven-Days” series, which was canceled at a late stage.

A Taoiseach announced at 02:45hrs on 06th May his decision to dismiss Ministers Haughey and Blaney. The shock was: “All the greater because it is so unbelievable; because it gives body and substance to the waves of rumour that have been circulating here since the Six Counties trouble last Summer and all the talk about the involvement of some Ministers in the events there.”

The Taoiseach “… repudiated the suggestion that no attempt had been made by the Government or any of its members to pursue the hunt for the perpetrators of that foul deed” (The shooting of Garda Fallon).

Transfers, from Blessington, were proposed for Sergeant Maurice O’ Sullivan and three of his married subordinates. (I presume it was pure coincidence that the only Gardai threatened with transfers were those involved in my wrongful arrest.) The order was based on the allegation that it was due to their incompetence that a number of wanted men evaded detection in Jim Browe’s cottage.

Sergeant O’ Sullivan told reporters: “… months ago my request for extra men, so that I could adequately police my district, was refused.” (I couldn’t help wondering if he had enough Gardai how many more false arrests would he have had authorised?)

A petition to oppose the transfer was organised, by an outsider, in Lacken and the surrounding areas.

The proposed transfer of the three Gardai; William Nash, Patrick Browne and William Tighe, was canceled. On 01st September 1970 Sergeant Maurice O’Sullivan took up duty at Coolock Garda Station; his third transfer since he was promoted Sergeant on 16th July 1965.

Slowly things returned to normal in Lacken. The presence of unmarked Garda-cars and the crackle of walkie-talkies gradually died away.

On Thursday 14th May one of the men named by Gardai was arrested in London. Charges were subsequently brought against him and he was acquitted.

Ministers Haughey and Blaney were charged in “The Arms Trial” and acquitted.

Thirty-seven years on, nobody has been convicted of the deed, which ensured that Dick Fallon would not, in his retirement, stroll through the fields of his native Moneen, Co. Roscommon.

Dick Fallon’s son, Finian, claims that there was a Government cover-up at the time of his father’s murder and has now asked successive Irish Ministers for Justice to hold an inquiry. As recently as February 2011 he was told that part of the file had “gone missing.”

I wonder if Garda Patrick Browne ever heard the piece of doggerel that I put together when he got the blow of the tyre-lever to the head during the raid on the Blessington Post Office in later years;

A Kerry Garda got a belt

At at twenty past eleven.

It missed his eye by half an inch

And his brain by two foot seven.

Mattie Lennon

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- NOTHING RHYMES WITH VOLVO


by Mattie Lennon

I’m trying to set up a support group called VOLLOCS; with a V. (Acronym will be explained anon).

You see I owned a Morris Minor in the seventies………….. Which reminds me. Have you ever noticed, apart from the social possibilities afforded, the literary merit of the MM? Fair play to Christy Moore, Richie Kavanagh, and Micky McConnell – they saw the rhyming potential of the Morris Minor; Dine ‘er, Wine ‘er, Baldy Miner, Recline ‘er. Try working Peugeot, Chrysler, Citron, or Hyundai into a villanelle or a sonnet.

Have you ever heard anyone stand up at a Fleadh to sing; “The Toyota Camry Car?” And an ode to an Isuzu or a Renault would be utter Philistinism. I suppose you could rhyme something with KA, but who’d want to?

I digress. As I said, I owned an MM in the seventies and I sustained a lumber-disc-lesion (slipped disc to you) in the same decade. I contracted the latter in the back of the former during nocturnal post-dance activities around Lacken and surrounding areas of the Wicklow Mountains. I claim the Morris Minor designers/manufacturers were, at least partly, negligible through providing front seats which tilted forward making certain pelvic roll-back activities possible, if uncomfortable, in the rear. There are many places in our towns and cities, where the outside of a building describes an internal right angle, contagious to the thoroughfare. Have you ever noticed that, in such corners, there is sometimes a convex railing, with a spiked top, in position? This was a Victorian device for the purpose of discouraging erotica while parallel with the perpendicular. Why couldn’t Sir Alec Issigonis have designed, if not spikes then, some form of deterrent in the back seat of the MM?

But instead of inhibiting they subtly advertised the added facility. A promotion leaflet from fifty years ago reads; “……..relax in perfect comfort in the rear seat of the Morris……the seat is extra wide and deep and there is extra leg room…..deep pile carpets pad the floor….” More recently Paul Skilleter, in a Technical and Historic analysis of the Morris Minor, says it;”….gave a standard of ride-comfort such as had never been experienced in a small British car before………is more than a car…..it is a familiar, dependable friend that does everything asked of it….has well planned accommodation inside.”

And what did the late Ian Nairn mean, when he wrote, of the MM, in the Sunday Times,; “…..there is no way I can see a comfortable solution to a passionate embrace in the back seat?”

Bad back or no bad back it would be sharp practice on my part to take legal action against the designers of a machine with such attributes; and anyway, Sir Alec Issigonis didn’t leave forwarding address. Of course I mightn’t fare very well in court anyway; and it would be less than prudent to call a witness.

I see, now, where the British inventor, Cris McGlone, has applied for a patent for the “Posture Perfect”; a buzzing leotard. If the wearer adopts a wrong posture an alarm will go off. I wonder……….

A friend of mine, a shopkeeper, claims the aforementioned alternative gymnastics are not possible in the MM. (This man once owned a Morris Minor, but it must be said he has a perfect back) “I’ll show you how possible it is” says I ” Get me a Morris Minor and a………” Then I remembered the words of Nicolas Boileau; “Chaquee age a ses plaisirs…” (every age has It’s pleasures) I am anno-domino-barred. However I felt obliged to point out to my friend, the shopkeeper, that when Dermot O’Leary was promoting “The Oldest Swinger in Town,” it wasn’t a Prefect or an Austin Seven he used on the posters.

I’d swear the ancient Romans knew the erotically appealing properties of the MM; do you remember that little red car in the background in Ben Hur? It certainly wasn’t a Romeo or a Lada.

Remember the character in Lee Dunne’s “Does Your Mother” who was conceived in a watch-mans hut; he was called “Watchbox.” Now wouldn’t Morris Minor make a better name for a person than, say, Ford Orien or Opel Vectra?

A University-of-California study has found that men whose initials form negative acronyms e.g. P.I.G. or B.U.M. die 2.8 years younger than those with initials like V.I.P. or W.I.N. It would hardly be conducive to longevity to be called Volvo Diesel or Saab Turbo.

And speaking of longevity; the next time you see some fellow walking with difficulty (I would have every sympathy with him, he is in pain) but, ask him what’s wrong with him. He will quote all sorts of erudite specialists and tell you we evolved too quickly. We weren’t intended to stand up straight, he’ll tell you. Then you’ll have to listen to all sorts of fancy terminology; Scoliosis, Lordosis, Lor…this and Lor..that. Just listen to him for a while and then innocently ask; “Did you ever bring a Morris Minor to a dance?”

If you happen to see my old Morris Minor on the road (the Reg.No. is 7440 IK) have a look at the current driver. If it’s male and walking in the manner described above, there is a good chance he didn’t heed the warning on the faded bumper-sticker; PRACTICE SAFE SEX, AVOID THE BACK SEAT.

Oh, I nearly forgot the acronym.

Contact Mattie Lennon at info@mattielennon.com


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Mattie Lennon Author- WHEELS ON HELLS Mr. Haakon Doherty, Professor of Orthopaedics, at Uppsala University, has found evidence in human feet of the evolution of “wheels.”


by Mattie Lennon
Mr. Haakon Doherty, Professor of Orthopaedics, at Uppsala University, has found evidence in human feet of the evolution of “wheels.”

He agrees that it took millions of years for legs to evolve from fins but he has claimed in a recently published paper that the rate of human evolution has accelerated to such an extent that as early as the year 3000 humans will be traveling on their own “wheels.” “One of the causes of the rapid acceleration is the population boom. With more people an advantageous genetic mutation will arise and spread.”

I met the professor in New York, on Saint Patrick’s Day, where he was attending a conference, and I asked him two questions;

“Where did you get your surname?” and “Why have species millions of years older than ourselves not grown wheels?”

He told me that his Grandfather Hugh Doherty was Irish; Editor of the Barnasmore Bugle newspaper in Donegal and when the paper ceased publication he went to Stockholm where he married a Swede.

In answer to my second question he said, “We didn’t grow wheels because there weren’t any roads or flat surfaces until a few thousand years ago, which is the blink of an eye in cosmic terms. When biology was facilitating locomotion the terrain to be negotiated was catered for. Legs, fins and wings were sufficient Evolution adapts us to suit our environment. Adaptation may cause either the gain of a new feature, or the loss of an ancestral feature. If there were motorways a hundred million years ago you and me would be moving around Fifth Avenue on our own “flesh-and-blood roller skates.”

Then, in what he pretended was an afterthought he said, “The larvai of the mother-of-pearl moth (Pleurotya Ruralis,) when startled, will roll itself into a round shape and roll away and the bacterium Escherichia coli moves by spinning filiments called flagella like tiny propellers which rotate at a speed of several hundred times per second.” On seeing that I was taken aback he went on, “if those are not wheels they are fairly bloody close.”

I was wondering about the blood supply but didn’t dare ask the question. The professor read my mind, “ The flesh-and-blood wheel could use the umbilical connection similar to that used on merry-go-rounds.”

Seeing that his erudite instruction was falling on barren ground he gave me a practical demonstration using a CD and one of my shoelaces.

Back in my hotel I checked each foot beneath the ankle bone for traces of the beginning of an “axle” but drew a blank.

A BIO OF SORTS of Mattie Lennon

On Monday, January 10th, 1949, I attained the age of three. I don’t remember it, but I do recall Thursday 13th, it was the Fair-Day in Blessington. When I awoke it was very dark. I made my way into the kitchen, attracted by the yellow glow of lamplight; my feet sensitive to the change of surface as I stepped from the concrete floor of the upper room to the granite paved kitchen. It was not night but morning; a fact proclaimed by my father’s apparel as he sat on a low stool at a military-style bench which on this occasion served as a breakfast table.

The Primary Cert, my first attempt at growing side locks and the feeling that my initial nocturnal adventure into Soho was in some way repugnant to Catechism teaching are all a sort of psychedelic jumble in my brain. Most memories have become blurred on the screen of time, but superimposed there and in no way distorted is my first picture of that big man, with greying hair, eating home-cured rashers from a maidenhair fern plate. The kitchen was devoid of a clock, but he threw the odd glance at the key-winder pocket watch which hung from a bent oval nail on the second shelf of the dresser. (Years later, during one of my unsuccessful attempts at horology I dismantled the faithful chronometer and having reassembled it, had parts left over; Nothing was learned from the operation except that it had been repaired in 1899). When he had mopped up the last drop of grease with a crust of home-made bread, I was to witness a scene that I would see repeated a thousand times. He took each of his boots in turn and placed a couple of small red coals inside each. Then, expertly, he rocked them from heel to toe several times. He replaced the coals in the fire, laced each boot firmly and stamped his feet on the hearth as if to test it.

A full pipe was tamped with his index finger and reddened with a paper spill lit from the glass-bowled oil lamp which stood at his right elbow. My mother often talked of trimming and filling oil-lamps in the house of gentry, yet she hardly ever succeeded in cutting this lamp wick straight across. The result was a diagonal flame.

Then, he took the reins out of the pony’s winkers that hung by the open fire, under the tallague. With the rope he made a head collar, went to the cow house and led out the white head cow. The name was not a misnomer; she was a big red animal, with a white forehead adorned by two sturdy unmatching horns. I was seeing her for the first time; having sprinkled her with Holy Water, from a jam-dish on the windowsill and making the Sign of the Cross on himself, he brought her to the road. The predawn hue was giving way to daylight. It was already bright enough to see the silhouetted paling posts and the stark contour of Black Hill and the stable.

A rat raced across the road. A neighbour cycled past on his way to work. Friendly salutations were exchanged. My mother ushered me back to bed. My first recordable day had begun.

I spent the first 25 years of my life at home on a small farm. I can identify with Patrick Kavanagh’s “burgled bank of youth” (and I am one of the few of my generation who knows how to make a bush-harrow). As a young fellow whenever I was blamed in the wrong, I would compose a derogatory ballad about my accuser. There weren’t many false accusations so I wasn’t very prolific.

I was nicknamed “the Poet” but the term wasn’t always complimentary. I agrees that what is said behind one’s back is their standing in the community and my favourite quotation is a comment made about me by a neighbour: “Wouldn’t you think someone would tell him he’s an eejit, when he doesn’t know himself”.

I have spent most of the last 40 years in Dublin but when asked “Will you ever go back to Kylebeg”? my answer is always Joycean. When James Joyce was asked, in Trieste; “Will you ever return to Dublin?” he said; “I never left”.

I have written articles (mostly humorous) for The Sunday Independent, The Irish Times, The Irish Post, Ireland’s Own, Ireland’s Eye, Kerry’s Eye, The Wicklow People, The Leinster Leader as well as numerous on-line publications. I write a monthly “Irish Eyes” column for the online magazine http://www.pencilstubs.com.

I have written a couple of plays. My “And All his Songs Were Sad” was staged by the Pantagleize Theatre Company in Texas. I produced a DVD “Sunrise on the icklow Hills” and I am planning to record a CD of “Irish ” stories.

I was once told; “You have the perfect face for radio” and I compiled and presented my own programmes in the “Voiceover” series on RTE Radio One. I have presented ballad programmes on Radio Dublin, KIC FM, Liffey Sound and Radio Dublin.

I co-presented a Saint Patrick’s Day Ceol na nGael programme on WFUV 90.7 in the Bronx and I do pre-recorded programmes for other stations. One such programme is “The Story And The Song” in which I play a number of ballads, having first told the story behind each one.
In January 2011 I retired from Dublin Bus after 37 years. I still write the occasional ballad (not all of them fit for human consumption).

Reply to Mattie Lennon at info@mattielennon.com


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