Tag Archives: Mattie Lennon



By Mattie Lennon.

   I have just read an account of one Bernard Gallagher whom the author, Allen Foster, describes as “Ireland’s greatest hoaxer.”  Mr Gallagher was born in Derry in 1856 and died there in the Workhouse in June 1926.

  One of his lesser-known scams was executed shortly after the foundation of the State. He posed as a government engineer, in Donegal, and carried out a survey with a view to building a proposed wall between the two states.

Mattie Lennon  mattiejlennon@gmail.com

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By Mattie Lennon

    Cyber bullying is a major problem worldwide.  It can be defined as,  “unwanted messages, images, audio or video sent by electronic means to threaten, abuse or harm someone. “

   Many institutions are doing their best to combat cyberbullying  but none  is more innovative than Cyber Smarties. They  are “ . . . committed to developing technology which educates positive behaviour on a practical, safe platform for Primary School children and young adults with Special Needs, to ensure that all can learn safe, fun and positive social networking skills which promote self-confidence, self-esteem and eliminate cyber-bullying. The Core Values that guide us are collaboration, excellence and creativity.”

   CEO Diamuid Hudner told me, “Cybersmarties.com is the FIRST SAFE EDUCATIONAL SOCIAL NETWORK designed specifically for Primary & Special Needs Schools. Through in-built behavioural technology, CyberSmarties.com allows kids to use social media in a controlled, supervised and safe environment without the fear of harassment or cyber-bullying.  Cybersmarties.com uses technology to educate children in a practical way in positive online behaviour, to protect their own well-being, to make friends with other kids safely and promotes netiquette and empathy.  It is the first social network to use behavioural technology combined with education to teach children to use social media responsibly and protect their online presence. For more information please contact www.cybersmarties.com

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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 Lennonh Irish Author- An Obstacle Confusion

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author – Who Nose or A Sense of Woodbine, Buttercups Rouses Memories

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- THE HILLS ABOVE THE VALLEY


By Mattie Lennon.

   Some years ago I was producing a DVD Sunrise on the Wicklow Hills” and it was a struggle to get fourteen or fifteen Wicklow songs. It would appear that there was a dearth of songwriters in the Garden County.  All that has changed. Wicklow singer/songwriter Barry Kinane is bringing out an album, “The Hills above the Valley.”

    All are Wicklow songs which, in the true ballad tradition, tell tales of love, hardship, tragedy, hope and humour.

The Hills Above the Valley.

Where Brook waters Flow.

Biddy Mulvey and the Landgrabber.

Mrs O’s Delight.



The Ballyknockan Band.


A Stonecutter’s Journey.

Madonna and Lion.

 All tracks are composed by Barry.

  Barry, who grew up in Ballyknockan is married with two children and lives in Carrigacurra, overlooking the beautiful Blessington Lakes.   He has been a songwriter and composer of music most of his life and I started playing in bands as a teenager.

     In the past decade he has released eight albums, five with critical acclaimed band Glyder, a solo album, a project album with “Maggie Simpson” and an album with The Whole Hog Band. His music has been played on BBC, RTE and their equivalent stations in Sweden, Germany and Norway as well as rock shows all over the world. A track was played on the legendary “Nights with Alice Cooper” show which was syndicated all over the world. While in Glyder he toured all over Europe and opened for international acts like Metallica, Slash, Thin Lizzy and many more. Glyder were a well-respected band in the rock scene in UK and Europe and the albums were released internationally on SPV (Steamhammer) for Europe and USA and JVC Victor for Asia. In 2010 I released a solo album, “A lifetime to Kill” described as “folk prog” by Hot Press magazine. It featured Johnny Cash’s bass player Dave Rorick as well as top Irish musicians Rob Strong and Pat McManus. It got favourable press and some airplay in Ireland on RTE and regional shows.

   He recently released a country and Bluegrass album, which he recorded and produced in his own studio with The Whole Hog Band album called “Ordinary Days”. It features some of Ireland’s finest bluegrass musicians. It received the award of best debut album at the Leinster Entertainment Awards.

Barry has  been finalist in many song writing competitions and in 2014  won the prestigious  Sean McCarthy Ballad writing competition in Listowel, Co. Kerry, says “ I have written in many styles ranging from rock, folk, country, metal, pop and soul.”

   The CD is due for release in Mid-November and will be available from Barry at; bat.kinane@gmail.comBarry

Mattie Lennon



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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- LAR AN’ DAN AN’ PAT

                                                                   LAR AN’ MATT AN’ DAN AN’ PAT

                                                                                                            By  Mattie Lennon.

“Stone is lasting: all life ends in death, but stone lives on.”  (Michael McLaverty.)

In My father’s time . . .(I’m beginning to sound like the late Eamon Kelly . . . if only.) anyway, in the early days of the last century there was a Cullen man, in Ballinastocken,   who  was known as  “LaaBaa .” I’ve no idea what the nickname means or where it came from. I once asked an old schoolmaster in Lacken, who was into numerology, and he told me that the life path number of LAABAA is 9. The Destiny Number 9 in numerology stands for the ubiquity of the immortal soul and therefore the nine is always surrounded by an aura of mystery and mysticism. Those  born with this number will have much success in life. What I do know is that the soubriquet adhered so persistently to Mr Cullen that only those of his own age or older knew what his real first-name was.

   He is remembered mainly for rhyming-off the names of his four brothers who went to America in the 1890s, “Lar an’ Matt an’ Dan an’ Pat.” Three of them were stonecutters who learned their trade in Ballyknockan.    I was recently contacted by Marge Campbell, in Illinois, a granddaughter of Matt, who is very proud of her Irish ancestry.

   Laurence Cullen emigrated first and settled in Chicago where he was joined by Matthew and Patrick both of whom worked at Stearns Quarry. In 1901 the both left, for Superior, Wisconsin,  and joined the William Penn Stone Company.  Both brothers married in 1901   at Christ the King Cathedral, Superior.

    Patrick worked in Vancouver from 1907 to 1911 when he went to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

   Mathew also went to Minnesota where he became President of the Minneapolis Stonecutters Union.  I wonder did he cut his trade-union teeth before he crossed the  Atlantic?  There was a prolonged strike in the Ballyknockan quarries in 1901. When it was settled Archbishop Walsh (the “Billy Walsh” who featured in Joyce’s  Gas From a Burner)  had a pamphlet distributed congratulating the quarry-owners and the workers on the settlement. Matthew died from typhoid on 16th August 1914 aged 40. His wife had died on 29th January 1914 twenty days after giving birth to twin girls one of whom, Helen, was Marge Campbell’s mother. Matthew’s brother Dan became guardian of seven orphans. Dan, who was a steamfitter,   had his first child with his second wife when he was age 69 and his wife was 46. He died in 1956.

   Patrick Cullen, who worked on many prestigious projects, including the entrance to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium that can be viewed today, passed his skills on to sons Myles and Bernard. Myles Cullen also carved a statue of the Virgin  Mary  which  is still on display on top of one of the Mayo Clinic buildings in Rochester, Minnesota. Patrick lived until 1947 and his last job was the dog which lies on top of the money box on the F&M Bank.

   In the 1930s Bernard Cullen carved many well-known faces, included Stalin and Mortimer Snerd, as gargoyles on All Saints Church.  He said, “We didn’t have pictures of the gargoyles so we were told , ‘carve any face you like and have fun’ .” Surprisingly, for a man with a  Wicklow father, Bernard Cullen didn’t like granite. He said he preferred to work in , “ . . . any good Minnesota limestone.”  He carved a piece of the Rock of Gibraltar for the lobby of the Prudential Insurance Company and described the Monolithic limestone as “An oddball to carve.” Obviously he wouldn’t agree with the character in Seamus Murphy’s Stone Mad  who referred to the Ballyknockan granite as being “like oatmeal “  and commented on how easily carved it was.

The Cullen brothers worked on the 20 ton replica of the Great seal of Minneapolis which was hoisted on to the wall of the Minneapolis Auditorium in the 1960s.  The Minneapolis Tribune of 17thFebruary 1967 had a picture of Myles Cullen dwarfed by the seal, which was 26 feet in diameter.

   His brother Bernard said, “ The Great seal was so big we had to hire a ballroom so that we could lay it out.” Myles Cullen’s sons say  their    father’s work felt normal and common to them when they were young. Every Saturday they would help clean stone dust from a workshop their father and uncle bought, and be rewarded with a soda pop. Today, they say, they are amazed by their father’s work.

   Laurence Cullen’s sons, Patrick and Laurence, were also stonecutters. Patrick was Recording Secretary for Chicago Stonecutters Union.  It is no surprise that the men from Ballinastockan passed their crafts on to the next generations.  In  Ballyknockan,  a Wicklow Stonecutters’ Village  By Seamas O Maitiu and Barry O’ Reilly, we are told that, “ Stone cutting is a craft that does not just spring up out of the ground on the discovery of a promising seam of rock. It is passed on from generation to generation and stone cutters have always been willing to follow their trade.”

   It has been said that if you want something to last forever you should either write a song about it or carve it in stone. Well, the Cullens have left many “poems-in-stone” in the USA. And wouldn’t LaaBaa be proud of his brothers and nephews knowing that it all started with the departure of “Lar an’ Matt an’ Dan an’ Pat.”

Mattie Lennon


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