Tag Archives: Irish Poet

Mattie Lennon Irish Poet- A SUGGESTION FOR TWO IRISH GOVERNMENT MINISTERS

A SUGGESTION FOR TWO IRISH GOVERNMENT MINISTERS

By Mattie Lennon

A suggestion for James Reilly and for Alan Shatter too.
If you will just bear with me I’ll spell it out to you.
‘Twill boost our ill economy like nothing did before.
You simply make a little switch and then you do no more

You take the prisoners from Mountjoy, Wheatfield and Castlerea.
And put them in the old-folks homes; for their crimes there let them pay.
They’ll get cold food (some time of day), that’s if they’re fed at all.
If they call for help the attitude, is, “let them shout an’ bawl.”

They‘d seldom get a shower, they’d have to live with grime
If they want a dirty protest sure they’d have it all the time.
The second part is better; a plan that couldn’t fail
Collect the senior citizens and put them all in jail

It’s there they would be happy, each with their private cell
And checked on several times an hour to make sure that they were well.
With all their needs and little wants looked after by a guard
And those who wanted exercise could jog around the yard.

A library and a workshop where they could read or paint
And a Board of paid directors to deal with each complaint.
Doctors, Priests and Nurses will be at their beck and call,
Any shortfall in prescriptions would be lobbed across the wall.

Although my proposition might be met with sneers and grins
I don’t expect objections (not even from the Quinns.)
So Ministers if you’re listening to this advice from me
Dismiss your well paid mentors; I’ll council you for free.

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Bloggers

Mattie Lennon Irish Author/Poet- TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS

TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS

by Mattie Lennon

Emails offering flat garden hoses, penile extensions, 2% mortgages in North Carolina or equipment to spy on neighbours, I usually delete unread.

Recently, however, one caught my eye:
Men’s and ladies prestige watches for all occasions… 98% accuracy… Includes all proper markings… authentic weight.

It reminded me of my own foray into the world of retailing chronometers. In the early summer of 1972 I discovered a source where I could purchase large quantities of affordable, imported, watches at £2 each. (Hector Grey pointed out to the young, entrepreneurial Bill Cullen that if you buy an article for a pound and sell it for two pounds that is one-percent profit. According to the Scotsman’s reckoning I was only making .25% percent on the watches; I was selling them for £2: 50. each.)

The streets of Dublin proved to be lucrative for me in the month of June. Through hard work, a lot of patter and strategic planning I sold hundreds of watches in the Capital. Sales dropped in early July. Had everyone in Dublin bought a watch from me?

On Sunday 16th July, a scorching day, I headed for McHale Park, Castlebar to the Connaught Final. Roscommon beat Mayo 5:8 to 3:10 and I boarded the Dublin train with pockets bulging.

In the All-Ireland hurling final Kilkenny beat Cork 3:34 to 5:11 and watches were on offer to all.

And on the penultimate Sunday of September, as the final whistle blew, I was waiting outside Croke Park. Kerry V Offaly had ended in a draw. Both sets of supporters were jubilant in anticipation of a win next time out. Fob-watches were purchased for wives and girlfriends… and sometimes both.

I was, once again, ready for the replay on 15th October. Offaly beat Kerry 1:9 to 0:13. Watches would adorn muscular wrists in Banager and Blennerville.

I found that the only section of the Irish community completely out of the watch market was the Greyhound fraternity. (Perhaps they were only interested in stopwatches). A visit to Harold’s Cross resulted in not one sale.

When Percy Bysshe Shelley was selling his book Address To The Irish People, at the Gresham Hotel, in 1812, he said, “I stand by the window and wait ’til I see who looks likely. Then I throw a book at him”. I didn’t use the poet’s marketing ploy but one hundred and sixty years later and twenty yards from the prestigious Hotel, on 03rd November I was selling outside the Savoy Cinema in O’Connell Street when a well-dressed man of rural-Irish background asked me, “How much for four watches?”

The lapel of his fashionable, fingertip-to-hip-length, fawn coat failed to conceal the tell tale strap of a Walkie-talkie stretched diagonally across his chest. This didn’t bother me. In the preceding months I had met literally hundreds of Guards in the course of my selling. Some had bought watches and with many others I had exchanged good-natured banter. But, seemingly, this was different.

If Garda John McGonigle had asked where I had gotten my wares I suppose I could have quoted William Paley’s Natural Theology (1802), “Suppose I found a watch upon the ground, and it should be enquired how the watch happened to be in that place… the inference, we think is inevitable… ” or I could have given him the name and address of my wholesaler.

But he didn’t ask. Instead he called for a patrol car and I was conveyed to Store Street station. The driver was a, civil, plain-clothes officer who asked if I had, “ever been in trouble before”? I shared the back seat with a twenty-stone Inspector. He went a long way towards proving the theory that fat people are jolly. He found the fact that forty watches for which I had paid hard-earned cash, were being confiscated, hilarious. “You wudda had a profitable night on’y ye met the wrong man” he guffawed.

Back in the station McGonigle suggested that the watches weren’t of top quality, as if I had been claiming that they were Omegas.

When I asked if I could make a phone call, Garda McGonigle was the one to answer, “No”.

Eventually I was asked where I got the watches and I gave the name and address of my supplier who was based a ten-minute drive from the station. Was my alibi checked out? No.

The squad-car driver put me in a cell and formed the opinion that it wasn’t necessary to confiscate my belt or tie. “You don’t look like the sort of fellow that would hang himself”. He looked in on me later and when I asked him what time it was, adding,” Isn’t it hard lines when a man starts out with forty watches and ends up asking someone else the time?” he laughed; a genuine laugh.

In the small hours of the morning, while pondering on what I was missing (Johnny Flynn had been playing at the Ierne) the shouts and language in the adjoining cells made me thankful that I wasn’t a law-breaker or a Guard.

My first cell-mate was an intelligent individual. The sort you could talk to. He was removed and replaced by a well-dressed teenager who was probably a hard man out on the street but allowed his vulnerability to show once locked up. I learned from a page from the Irish Independent, which lay on the “bed”, that my friend Dick Trueman had been appointed Secretary of the United Arts Club. Towards dawn I was presented with a Charge-sheet which proclaimed that I was being charged with,” feloniously receiving forty watches… “.

When I insisted on reading the document I was accused of being, ” very cagey”.

Though nobody had asked me what was my trade or profession the “Occupation” line on the sheet was filled with the words, “No business”.

When my term of incarceration came to an end (the only night of my life spent in a cell) and the crisp November air of Northside Dublin assailed my face, I was in a position to review the words of George A.Birmingham; “The Irish Police Barrack is invariably clean, occasionally picturesque, but it is never comfortable”. If Mr. Birmingham had ever visited Store Street he would have omitted the bit about “invariably clean”.

The burly, polite, Garda who ushered me into the “meat-wagon” asked,” Were you batin’ the polis last night?”

I answered in the negative without elaboration. (Come to think of it, not alone have I not indulged in “batin’ the polis” since, but somewhere among my collection of newspaper cuttings, Clancy Brothers records and knick-knacks picked up in the Dandelion Market is an interesting letter; It is from superintendent Micheal Carolin expressing his “deep gratitude” for my “assistance rendered to Gardai Eaton Touhy and Brian Woods who were under attack on Blackditch Road, Ballyfermot”.

So, I didn’t agree with Brendan Behan when he said that there was no human situation so grim that the appearance of a Policeman wouldn’t worsen.)

I was taken to the Courts area kept in a holding-cell with a number of others. I was the only first-timer and I was informed by the more experienced that I would be “going straight to ‘the Joy'” (Mountjoy Prison).

On my journey through the subterranean passage, from the holding cell to the Court, Garda McGonigle, who was now in uniform, (I bet he didn’t sleep on a plank) made me walk in front of him. Perhaps he feared my having a lump-hammer or an anvil concealed in my shirt pocket.

When the Judge addressed me, not being au feit with Courtroom protocol, I stepped forward to deliver the monologue, which I had rehearsed through the night. A Garda put out a restraining hand and whispered to me that that is not how things are done. The Judge on seeing my confusion said, ?”You’ll get plenty of opportunity to say what you have to say”. They next thing I heard was “adjourned”. I signed a Bail-bond for £25 and? walked to freedom thinking of a couple of lines from The Ballad Of Reading Gaol:
“Out into God’s sweet air we went
But not in wonted way… ”

I contacted my supplier and, since neither of us had anything to hide, he accompanied me to Store Street Garda Station and explained that, yes, he had been supplying quantities of watches to me over the preceding months. The officer on duty pointed out that since I was already charged I would have to appear in Court on the appointed day or a Bench-warrant would be issued for my arrest.

When I returned home to 4, Chester Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, I discovered that the house had been searched by a number of Gardai. A ledger and light fitting were missing. The former was returned to me later in Dublin Castle. The latter I haven’t seen since.

I later learned that the following exchange took place between two friends of mine:

“Did you hear about Lennon being arrested?”

“No.What did he do”?

“Oh, nothing. He had too much time on his hands”.

On my next Court appearance, being a great believer in the maxim that the innocent don’t need defence, I didn’t engage a Solicitor. Garda McGonigle’s only evidence was, “I am not offering any evidence”.

Life went on.

I haven’t featured in Fogra Tora since.

As far as I know, Garda McGonigle didn’t finish up directing traffic in Bangor Erris and I haven’t ever heard of a Guard being charged with wasting Police time… have you?

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Bloggers

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

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.

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

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 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

Leave a comment

Filed under Books to Read

Mattie Lennon Irish Author/Poet- Sunrise on the Wicklow Hills 400 Years Of Wicklow Songs And Music

Sunrise on the Wicklow Hills 400 Years Of Wicklow Songs And Music

By Mattie Lennon

County Wicklow inspired John Millington Synge, gave refuge to freedom fighters, welcomed lovers to its hills and valleys and continues to provide tranquility, peace and relaxation for its many visitors.

The loves, battles, disputes and matches of the Garden County have been commemorated in songs (some almost forgotten), which have long been part of the oral tradition of mountain men and mountain women.

Yes, yes, I know. You knew that already. Well, some time ago I came up with a mad idea. You knew that as well because you know that I’m always coming up with mad ideas. As smart as you are I’ll bet you don’t know what the mad idea was. Well I’ll tell you. Wicklow was the last county in Ireland to be instituted. And on the four-hundredth anniversary of the foundation of our beautiful County I hit on the idea of making a DVD to preserve some of its precious stories and legends as told through its ballads.

SUNRISE ON THE WICKLOW HILLS; This is a classical song, which combines “drawing-room splendour” with the feelings of everyday life.

THE WICKLOW ROVER; Cork had The Bould Thady Quill, its neighbouring county boasted of “The Limerick Rake” and Roundwood songwriter, Pat Molloy, felt compelled to immortalise our very own colourful Wicklow character.

THE VALES AROUND CLOUGHLEA; A thumbnail sketch of West Wicklow life in the early days of the last century drawn, in words, by local songwriter Frank Farrelly. Priest, patriotism and pranks, they are all there.

DERRYBAWN; This beautiful ballad indicates that Wicklow men are still as capable of love, loyalty and valour as were their ancestors.

THE BLACKBIRD OF SWEET AVONDALE; The sad and moving tale of “the uncrowned king of Ireland” is given a new lease of life by award-winning singer Peggy Sweeney.

THE FLOWER OF LUGNAQUILLA; One of our highest mountains is immortalised by this slow jig composed and played, on fiddle, by gold-medallist musician Rachel Conlan.

MY WICKLOW HILLS SO GAY; An emigrant story from our own time told by a Ballyknockan songwriter.

THE BANKS OF AVONMORE; The story of death on an alien battlefield and broken hearts in Wicklow, written by the late Peter Cunningham-Grattan (The Roving Bard)

THE ROSE IN THE HEATHER/PAIDIN O’RAFFERTY (JIGS); Played by Fuinneamh, under the direction of John McNamara.

DOWN BY THE TANYARD SIDE; Composed by celebrated songwriter Ned Lysaght to console his friend Hugh Byrne who was the victim of his sweetheart’s cruel father.

THE WICKLOW MOUNTAINS HIGH; An old sentimental ballad, which has been rescued from the jaws of obscurity.

ANN DEVLIN; Pete St. John composed this lively yet tragic song, thereby ensuring that a brave Wicklow woman would not be airbrushed from history.

THE WICKLOW VALES FOR ME; Even the Creator, it has been said, couldn’t make two hills without a valley. Perhaps that is why man-of-God, Father Butler, a Donard curate, in the last century gave our mountains a rest (in a literary sense) and penned this tribute to the hollows in between.

PROVIDENCE/GRAVEL WALKS (REELS); Played by Fuinneamh under the direction of John McNamara.

The artists featured include Celtic Mist, Shay Eustace, Fifth-generation tenor Denis Molloy, Pianist Bill Kearney, Billy Meade, Fiddle-player Rachel Conlan, Songwriter/singers Patsy McEvoy and Mick Brady and a nine-piece band Fuinneamh. Fuinneamh is the Irish for “energy” and when you hear them play you’ll agree with the choice of name.

Also featured are a number of interviewees who know anything that’s worth knowing about County Wicklow, its songs and songwriters. These include 94-year-old Mona Power recalls her memories of Peter Cunningham-Grattan (The Roving Bard) an enigmatic songwriter and musician who travelled the roads of Wicklow until his death in 1956. Father Padraig McCarthy tells us about the fruits of his research into this prolific man-of-the-roads who kept his cards close to his chest as far as his origins were concerned.

Senator Labras O ‘Murchu, Director General of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, gives us the benefit of his knowledge of songs and song-writing in Wicklow and beyond.

Seamus MacMathuna, a great authority on the Irish ballad regales the viewer, from a cheery fireside, with stories of composers past and present.

Mick Brady, reveals where he got the inspiration for an emigration song and singer, writer and historian Shay Eustace tells some lesser-known facts about Ann Devlin.

“Sunrise On The Wicklow Hills” (DVD €20. CD-with 2 bonus tracks; €10. Prices include postage.)
is available from:

Mattie Lennon,
15 Weston Heights,
Weston Park,
Lucan, Co.Dublin,
Ireland.
mattielennon@gmail.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Bloggers

Mattie Lennon Irish Author- SUNRISE ON THE WICKLOW HILLS 400 YEARS OF WICKLOW SONGS

SUNRISE ON THE WICKLOW HILLS 400 YEARS OF WICKLOW SONGS

by Mattie Lennon

County Wicklow inspired John Millington Synge, gave refuge to freedom fighters, welcomed lovers to it’s hills and valleys and continues to provide tranquillity, peace and relaxation for its many visitors.The loves, battles, disputes and matches of the Garden County have been commemorated in songs (some almost forgotten), which have long been part of the oral tradition of mountain men and mountain women.

Yes, yes, I know. You knew that already. Well, some time ago I came up with a mad idea. Wicklow was the last county in Ireland to be instituted, 400 years ago. And on the four-hundredth anniversary of the foundation of County Wicklow, I produced a DVD to remember, honour and preserve some of its precious stories and legends as told through its ballads.

For months Julie Phibbs, Director of West Wicklow Films, and her team hauled cameras, tripods and a lot of expertise through the briars, ferns and rocks of County Wicklow.

The result is 57 minutes of footage, which — along with old photos and sketches — depicts some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

This cinematic panorama is accompanied by the following audio tracks:

SUNRISE ON THE WICKLOW HILLS – This is a classical song, which combines ‘drawing-room splendour’ with the feelings of everyday life.

THE WICKLOW ROVER – Cork had The Bould Thady Quill, its neighbouring county boasted of ‘The Limerick Rake’ and Roundwood songwriter, Pat Molloy, felt compelled to immortalise our very own colourful Wicklow character.

THE VALES AROUND CLOUGHLEA – A thumbnail sketch of West Wicklow life in the early days of the last century drawn, in words, by local songwriter Frank Farrelly. Priests, patriotism and pranks, they are all there.

DERRYBAWN – This beautiful ballad indicates that Wicklow men are still as capable of love, loyalty and valour as were their ancestors.

THE BLACKBIRD OF SWEET AVONDALE – The sad and moving tale of ‘the uncrowned king of Ireland’ is given a new lease of life by award-winning singer Peggy Sweeney.

THE FLOWER OF LUGNAQUILLA – One of the highest mountains is immortalised by this slow jig composed and played, on fiddle, by gold-medallist musician Rachel Conlan.

MY WICKLOW HILLS SO GAY – An emigrant story from our own time told by a Ballyknockan songwriter.

THE BANKS OF AVONMORE – The story of death on an alien battlefield and broken hearts in Wicklow, written by the late Peter Cunningham-Grattan (The Roving Bard)

THE ROSE IN THE HEATHER/ PAIDIN O’RAFFERTY (JIGS) – Played by Fuinneamh, under the direction of John McNamara.

DOWN BY THE TANYARD SIDE – Composed by celebrated songwriter Ned Lysaght to console his friend Hugh Byrne who was the victim of his sweetheart’s cruel father.

THE WICKLOW MOUNTAINS HIGH – An old sentimental ballad, which has been rescued from the jaws of obscurity.

ANN DEVLIN – Pete St. John composed this lively yet tragic song, thereby ensuring that a brave Wicklow woman would not be airbrushed from history.

THE WICKLOW VALES FOR ME – Even the Creator, it has been said, couldn’t make two hills without a valley. Perhaps that is why man-of-God, Father Butler, a Donard curate in the last century, gave our mountains a rest (in a literary sense) and penned this tribute to the hollows in between.

PROVIDENCE/ GRAVEL WALKS (REELS) – Played by Fuinneamh under the direction of John McNamara.

The artists featured include Celtic Mist, Shay Eustace, Fifth-generation tenor Denis Molloy, Pianist Bill Kearney, Billy Meade, Fiddle-player Rachel Conlan, Songwriter/ singers Patsy McEvoy and Mick Brady and a nine-piece band Fuinneamh. Fuinneamh is the Irish for ‘energy’ and when you hear them play you’ll agree with the choice of name.

Also featured are a number of interviewees who know anything that’s worth knowing about County Wicklow, its songs and songwriters. These include 94-year-old Mona Power recalls her memories of Peter Cunningham-Grattan (The Roving Bard) an enigmatic songwriter and musician who travelled the roads of Wicklow until his death in 1956. Father Padraig McCarthy tells us about the fruits of his research into this prolific man-of-the-roads who kept his cards close to his chest as far as his origins were concerned.

Senator Labras O’Murchu, Director General of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, gives us the benefit of his knowledge of songs and song-writing in Wicklow and beyond.

Seamus MacMathuna, a great authority on the Irish ballad regales the viewer, from a cheery fireside, with stories of composers past and present.

Mick Brady, reveals where he got the inspiration for an emigration song and singer, writer and historian, Shay Eustace tells some lesser-known facts about Ann Devlin.

‘Sunrise On The Wicklow Hills’ is available from Mattie Lennon, 15 Weston Heights, Weston Park, Lucan, Co.Dublin. info@mattielennon.com , Price; €20 (including P&P).

Leave a comment

Filed under Books to Read

Mattie Lennon Irish Author- BEGGARS CAN BE CHOOSERS

BEGGARS CAN BE CHOOSERS

by Mattie Lennon

“Les bons pauvres ne savent pas que leur office est d’exercer Notre gererosite.” (The poor don’t know that their function in life is to Exercise our generosity.) Jean-Paul Sarte.

I was delighted when that the stupid law (The Vagrancy (Ireland) Act 1847) had been found to be unconstitutional.

It reminds me of the first time I met the late John B.Keane in Grafton Street, in Dublin. He was being ushered Brown-Thomas-ward by his spouse. And cooperating fully: unusual for a husband. I accosted him to say thanks for his prompt reply when I had written to him shortly before requesting information for an article I was writing.

We were about thirty seconds into the conversation when an adult male with a lacerated face and looking very much the worse for wear approached me. The polystyrene cup in his outstretched hand proclaimed that he would not be offended by a donation.

I contributed 20p (I think). Ireland’s best-known playwright turned his back, (I’m sure he picked up the gesture in the Stacks Mountains as a young fellow) extracted a substantial amount and gave to the needy. I then thought that a man who had written about everything from cornerboys to the aphrodisiac properties of goat’s milk could enlighten me on an enigma, which I had been pondering for decades.

You see, dear reader, if I were talking to you on a public thoroughfare anywhere in the world and a beggar was in the vicinity he would ignore you as if he was a politician and you were a voter after an election. But he would home in on me. I don’t know why. Maybe, contrary to popular opinion, I have a kind face. Come to think of it that’s not the reason. Because I have, on many occasions, been approached from the rear. Many a time in a foreign city my wife thought I was being mugged. When in fact it was just a local with broken, or no English who had decided to ask Mattie Lennon for a small amount of whatever the prevailing currency was. Maybe those people have knowledge of Phrenology and the shape of my weather-beaten head, even when viewed from behind, reveals the fact that I am a soft touch.

However, a foreman gave a more practical explanation to the boss, on a building site where I was employed many years ago. The site was contagious to a leafy street in what is now fashionable Dublin 4 and those from the less affluent section of society used to ferret me out there. Pointing a toil-worn, knarled, forefinger at me the straight-talking foreman, Matt Fagen, explained the situation to the builder, Peter Ewing, a mild mannered, pipe-smoking, kindly Scot. “Every tinker an’ tramp in Dublin is coming to this house, an’ all because o’ dat hoor……because dat hoor is here…an’ they know he’s one o’ themselves.”

I was relating this to John B. adding, ” I seem to attract them.” o which he promptly replied;” (calling on the founder of his religion). You do.”

The reason for his rapid expression of agreement was standing at my elbow in the person of yet another of our marginalized brethren with outstretched hand.

So the best-known Kerryman since Kitchener left me none the wiser as to why complete strangers mistake me for Saint Francis of Assisi.

And salutations such as “hello” or “Good morning” are replaced by “How are ye fixed?”, “Are you carrying” and, in the old days, “Have you a pound you wouldn’t be usin’ “?

I do not begrudge the odd contribution to the less well off and I am not complaining that I am often singled out as if I was the only alms-giver. Come to think of it, it is, I suppose, a kind of a compliment.

Sometimes I say ; “I was just going to ask you”, but I always give something and I don’t agree with Jack Nicholson who says; ” The only way to avoid people who come up to you wanting stuff all the time is to ask first. It freaks them out.” Those unfortunate people are bad enough without freaking them out. Of course there are times when it is permissible not to meet each request with a contribution. I recall an occasion in the distant, pre-decimal days when a man who believed that, at all times, even the most meager of funds should be shared, approached my late father for five pounds. When asked ; ” Would fifty shillings be any use to you?” he conceded that yes, half a loaf would be better than no bread. Lennon Senior replied; “Right. The next fiver I find I’ll give you half of it.”

Of course none of us know the day or the hour we’ll be reduced to begging. In the meantime I often thought of begging as an experiment. But I wouldn’t have what it takes. Not even the most high powered advertising by Building Societies and other financial establishments can restore my confidence, to ask for money in any shape or form, which was irreparably damaged when I asked a Blessington shopkeeper for a loan of a pound nearly fifty years ago. He said; I’d give you anything, son….but it’s agin the rule o’ the house.”

I wonder was he a pessimist. It has been said that you should always borrow from a pessimist; he doesn’t expect it back. Well recently I was in a restaurant when a work colleague texted me asking to borrow a small amount of money……he was seated two tables away.

As JFK said in his inaugural speech: ” If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

I don’t know about the rich but I have learned one thing about the poor; BEGGARS CAN BE CHOOSERS.

Contact Mattie Lennon at info@mattielennon.com

http://www.mattielennon.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Books to Read

Mattie Lennon Irish Author- AM THE ART OF SLAGGING

AM THE ART OF SLAGGING

by Mattie Lennon

I’m getting a bit of a slagging lately I won’t go into details but it’s great fun. I’m not talking about offensive remarks or insults. I’m referring to good substantial, wholesome, slagging.

SLAGGING is the delicate art of teasing someone in such a fashion that they look forward to it.

It is practiced widely throughout Ireland by all manner of people. Well not all manner; there are those, a small minority, who, through, I presume, cannot take a slagging. And they have a right to live too despite the fact that they could truthfully echo the words of the character in God of Carnage who said “I don’t have a sense of humour and I have no intention of acquiring one.”

There are people who are offended by the suggestion that they shouldn’t be offended. I once lived in a Dublin suberb where it was said that “you would need to wash your words.”

When you slag someone you are giving them an opportunity to laugh at themselves. And Samual Lover said that if a man has a sense of humour keen enough to show up his own absurdities it will prevent him from committing all sins except those worth committing. He didn’t specify what transgressions are worth committing but I suppose he didn’t have to. Will the humourless, however, admit to their condition? Frank Moore Colby said, “Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth or a wig. How many of them will own up to a lack of humour.”? Why can some people not take a slagging? Freud in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious points out that when we were children we had no need for jokes because all our fantasies were so immediate. “ we were ignorant of the comic, we were incapable of jokes and we had no need of humour to make us feel happy in our life.”

Is the anti-slagging brigade made up of those who haven’t left their childhood? And who, subconsciously or otherwise are without the need for a bit of craic? Or are they victims of their upbringing or education? One writer, with reference to French finishing schools says, “In a world where structure, order and logic are the master nouns, the room for nonsense and absurdity is limited.”

We can’t slag everybody. But who do we slag and how should we do it? I apply the Golden rule “Don’t do unto others etc. “ Some erudite people remind me that that is the negative version of the rule. But, as every electrician knows, a negative is just as important as a positive.

I think that we should be proud of the fact that we are unique in Ireland in how we pay a compliment to each other. We do it in a way that other races would see as an insult. Irish friendships can often be measured by how robustly friends “insult” each other. If you’re short, tall, fat, a lothario OR useless with the opposite sex you’ll get a ribbing. If you’re bald, have long hair, rotten teeth or a broken nose you’ll be slagged. But in such a way as to strengthen the bonds of mutual affection. So, we have our own way of dispensing what Americans call “positive reinforcement.” But there are people in these islands who have convinced juries that a graceful taunt was an insult. And they are living comfortably on the proceeds.

In 1994 Jacob Hangaard, a Dutchman, stood for election as a joke. AND he was elected. His manifesto included “the reclassification of people without a sense of humour as disabled.” Would that be taking things a bit too far? I don’t know. “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.” But should we change a culture to appease a small minority who are allergic to life? How do we deal with people who can’t distinguish between affection and rejection? I don’t have an answer to that either. How about a compromise? What if those who suffer from self-victimisation or hypersensitivity were obliged to wear some form of badge proclaiming, “I can’t take a slagging.”

Mattie Lennon info@mattielennon.com

http://www.mattielennon.com

1 Comment

Filed under Books to Read