Culture & Reference
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Hello again from Ireland. This month we have tale of a missed connection with its reminder to embrace serendipity, a 'lyrical yarn' from Pat Watson, and a history of the O'Mahony clan of Cork as they prepare for their annual gathering.
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A global survey in the 'Lancet' medical journal has revealed that Irish women are among the world's heaviest drinkers.
Ireland ranked in fourth place in a survey of 189 countries, with only women in Lithuania, Moldova and the Czech Republic consuming more alcohol than their Irish counterparts.
The survey found that Irish adults of both sexes drank more per head than in the vast majority of other countries, ranking in fifth place on the international league table of shame.
The average Global intake of alcohol has increased from 5.9 liters per year in 1990 to 6.5 liters per year in 2017. Irish adults consumed an average of 13 liters of alcohol per year in 2017.
The study also found a startling reduction in the number of non-drinkers among women, dropping from 26% in 1990 to 13% in 2017.
The GPO on O'Connell Street is most remembers as the place where Padraig Pearse read the Irish Proclamation in 1916. The 'Easter Rising' that followed caused a chain-reaction of events that lead to the War of Independence, Civil War and ultimately the declaration of an Irish Republic in 1948. So it is fair to say that the massively busy thoroughfare in the center of Dublin city has always been of great historical and commercial importance
Despite this, the street has consistently failed to deliver in terms of accessibility, aesthetic appeal or tourist potential.
The latest proposals to rejuvenate the area have been put forward by UK property group Hammerson. The plans involve the creation of a '1916 trail', to promote the various key locations on the street and nearby. It also involves considerable building work providing for commercial spaces, offices and apartments.
A public plaza and square together with a roof over part of Moore Street are intended to attract more visitors into the area.
Vaughan Yates and his business partner Oisin Davis are the brains behind Ireland's first ever full-time bar with a difference. Wine, Beer and spirits are all served but with one particular ingredient notable by its absence: alcohol.
The bar is set to open on Capel Street in Dublin, just a stroll down Henry Street from O'Connell Street. Capel street has always been known for its eclectic mix of trendy and commercial enterprises so it is not surprising that the new owners have decided to located there.
Vaughan Yates is enthusiastic about the prospects for his new venture:
'The idea came from the fact that I think we’re at the beginning of a cultural shift in terms of people’s attitudes towards alcohol. Timing, people’s change to how they moderate what they drink, and the new products that have come out onto the market have made it possible to do this. I love spirits, I like drinking good whiskeys and rums, but I did feel there was something missing in the market for people that don’t drink. I really wanted to open it in Dublin, because I think Dublin has this ingrained culture of drinking.'
The drinks menu includes Gin & Tonic, eight varieties of beer and an innovative offering of cocktails. As a substitute for Guinness the bar offers a 'Chilled Raven Nitro Coffee', authentically poured from a traditional Stout bar-tap.
The owners have already been approached about setting up similar bars elsewhere but are waiting to see how this pilot project fares first.
'I think it will be interesting to see if it works here. If it works here, it’ll work anywhere.'
FIND YOUR NAME IN OUR
GALLERY OF IRISH COATS OF ARMS
Mary and John were finishing their breakfast when there she was, standing in the open doorway of their farmhouse kitchen.
'Does Michael Joseph Kelly of Clooneen Mor live here?' That was her opening remark.
'And good morning to you too' said Mary, 'And whose asking?'
'I must speak to Michael Joseph, is he here?'
'No he's gone since early morning.'
'When will he be back?'
'Not until late tonight'.
'I'll wait', she said as she sat in the chair inside the door.
'What do you want with him?'
'It's private between him and me.'
'But we're his parents surely you can tell us.'
'I will not divulge anything.'
'But you can't stay here all day and not tell us what you want with Mike.'
'Not in here?'
'I'll wait outside so,' and she stood up.
'Stay where you are, enough people have you seen already.' After that silence fell.
Up to now Mary had done all the talking. John who never had much to say was weighing up the situation. First he thought that this woman was here on her own behalf, after all, their Mike was a hot-blooded young fellow. 'Na' it was years since she saw forty and she was thin as a whip, pinched even. Her high Nellie bicycle, which he could see out the window, was pre-war, possibly twenty years old. Not even a hot-blooded twenty year old could do anything for her.
It must be her daughter, but she had no wedding ring. Maybe she was an aunt, a maiden aunt with some sort of profession, a poultry instructress or something of the sort. If so he hoped the niece would be better looking and not as sour. He knew Mary was thinking the same thing. She didn't get far with the questions. He would have a go.
'Did you come far?'
'How did you find the way?'
'Who did you ask?'
'A nice woman, said her name was Kate, she came two miles out of her way to show me.'
'And asked plenty of questions I'll wager?'
'And did you tell her your business?'
'Only that I was looking for Michael Joseph.'
'Did ye meet many?'
'And did they speak to ye?'
'Kate told them who I was looking for.'
Glory be to God thought Mary, did she have to meet the greatest gabby gut in the parish, and to cycle two miles with her, the whole country will have it by now and we still don't know. They must find out. She had been too sharp. She would try again.
'Will you have a cup of tea'?
'Ah go on it's in the pot.'
'Alright so.' She downed the tea and two buttered scones. She didn't look comfortable.
'Will you come out to the henhouse with me to look for eggs?'
'No' she said, stone faced.
'Are you sure.' The penny dropped, the eyes softened, both women knew that there was no toilet in the house.
'I will so' Mary felt that a woman-to-woman talk especially in a compromising position would bring information but all she got was: 'That's a great relief.'
'Can you not just tell me, I won't let on I know anything?'
'Only Michael Joseph.'
'Well can you give me a hint?'
'No it's between him and me.'
So much for that approach.
The day wore on in the same vein. Between silences Mary and John took turns at questioning but all to no avail. They had dinner, they had evening tea, and they took another trip to the henhouse but still to no avail. She would not budge. Finally they heard Mike coming in the lorry. Nobody moved until he came into the kitchen.
She stood up smartly and asked?:
'Are you Michael Joseph Kelly of Clooneen Mor?'
Whereupon she took an official looking envelope out of her pocket and handed it him. He looked at the envelope. He looked again at the bearer from her face to her toes and back again to her face. Mary wondered what was he thinking. Was he wondering could I have been that drunk?
He opened the envelope. As he read his face reddened, then he guffawed.
'Is that all you want?
Look Mother it's only a summons for driving over some private property and you thought! Ah it serves you right' They all laughed with relief.
'Thanks for the tea, the henhouse, the dinner, the tea and the henhouse' she said, as she sailed off on her high Nellie.
'The Woman on the High Nellie Bicycle' is one of sixty lyrical yarns from 'Original Irish Stories' by Pat Watson, Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Ireland.
Visit: https://goo.gl/FDp48v or you can email the author here: email@example.com
find out more
As Carol and I rose to leave the dining room of the Bread and Breakfast, Ed asked,
'Have you checked on the train connections, Jim?'
Almost simultaneously, he deftly speared another sausage and a piece of bacon from the serving platter. With a single motion he transferred some of each to his mouth, adding a bite of soda bread with the other hand.
'Yeah,' I replied, and added, 'I have the tickets for the four of us, Limerick to Killarney, leaving Limerick Station on the 10:00 o'clock train.'
'But, it's already 9:00,' he said, as he reached for another piece of soda bread to sop up the remnants of the egg on his plate.
'Yes,' Carol chimed in, 'You and Ceil better finish up and check out of here. We're ready. We'll wait for you in the front hall.'
Ceil answered, 'I just have to close up one suitcase. As soon as Ed can finish off the rest of the stuff on the platter we'll be with you.'
'I'll call for a taxi,' I said over my shoulder as I turned into the hall, trying to convey a sense of urgency with tone and timing.
'Yes, we better get a move on,' Carol added, as she picked up one of our bags and fell in behind me.
Ed yelled, 'I'll pay you for our tickets when we get on the train, Jim.'
'Say, this Irish Rail's not too bad,' Ed said as he settled into the plush seat beside Ceil.
'I wonder if they have any food on board?' he added, probably forgetting that in just a few miles, at Limerick Junction, we would change trains for Killarney, or we would end up in Cork.
'Limerick Junction. Limerick Junction. Change for Killarney,' the Conductor shouted from the sliding door to the entryway.
'Limerick Junction. Change for Killarney.'
I remembered the station agent's advice when I picked up the tickets.
'You'll be on track 1 at the Junction. Be ready to cross the platform to track 2 for immediate departure to Killarney.'
The Conductor slammed the door, proceeding to the next car. 'Let's get ready,' I urged. Carol and I started getting our bags down from the overhead rack. Ed was following suit, but Ceil was intently gazing out the car window onto the platform side. The train came to a stop with a little squeal and a jerk as the three of us readied to move.
'Oh, Carol,' Ceil gushed. 'Look at those darling children out there.'
Carol responded with a brief glance, but quickly said, 'Ceil, I can't look. We have to get over to that other track right now. Hurry!'
'Charge!' Ed roared. With bags hung over his shoulders and others in his hands, he pushed down the aisle, through the entry and down to the platform. Carol and I were right behind him.
'Ed,' I called,' there must be seats in that car forward.' I had noticed that most passengers were headed toward the car directly opposite us.
'Right,' he answered, as he half-ran to the next car. He climbed up to the entry and moved into the car. We scurried to grab facing seats with a table in between, hoisted our baggage overhead and dropped into the seats with the hope that our heart rates would soon subside and stabilize.
Then, the thought hit us all.
'Where's Ceil?' Ed shouted, looking frantically around the car. Just then the train started a smooth, silent movement out of the station. Our three pair of eyes darted about in search of Ceil. We found her, still on the platform, gazing placidly at the departing train.
'There she is,' Ed yelled, loud enough and urgently enough to make us the center of attention in most of the car.
'Where's the Conductor?' he continued. 'Stop the train,' he ordered loudly to the world at large as if sufficient volume would have that affect.
On cue, it seemed, the Conductor banged through the entry door. His long Irish countenance expressing concern for the little ruckus being created on his train.
'My wife missed the train,' Ed explained. 'She's still on the platform. Stop the train.'
'We can't do that,' the conductor said. 'We're not alone on this track.' A suspicion of a little grin quivered at the corners of his mouth as he continued, 'But not to worry, my good man. We'll take care of her.'
She doesn't have her ticket, her passport or even any money with her,' Ed informed the Conductor, with rising inflection. 'She doesn't have anything with her!' he emphasized.
'No matter. No matter,' the Conductor soothed. 'I'll telegraph back to the Station Master from the next stop. He'll see that your wife gets on the next train, in about 3 hours. She'll be taken care of, no need to worry. You can get off at the next station, yourself, and wait for her to come through.'
With a few more comforting murmurs, he moved on to take care of his train.
'Ed,' I said, but without the conductor's liquid brogue, 'She'll be OK. You get off at the next stop. Carol and I will go on to Killarney, locate a Bed and Breakfast and meet you at the station when you come in.'
'I wonder if there'll be someplace to eat where I get off,' Ed wondered. 'Lunch time is coming up.'
I assured him that there is at least one Pub in every Irish town and hamlet of more than half a dozen people. With that, Ed appeared comforted and settled down, prepared to meet the task at hand, after a Pub lunch in the next town.
Meanwhile, back at Limerick Junction, Ceil had reported her predicament to the Station Master. He offered the same solution as the Conductor.
'Sure, I'm sorry for your inconvenience, Ma'am,' he said,' but please make yourself comfortable here in the station. I'll see you get on the next train to Killarney.'
An older Irish woman approached Ceil hesitantly. With a big open smile she said,
'Madam, I couldn't help but overhear. I'm waiting myself, so I wonder if you'd care to sit with me and share my lunch. I have more than enough for both of us. We could take ourselves outside to one of those benches in the sun.'
So, there you have it, two different exposures to the Irish culture; two lunches with pleasant conversation, one on a railroad station bench in the warm sun, the other in the cool shadows of a friendly Pub.
A missed connection resulted in two new relationships with the world we were there to meet, revealing more of the Irish psyche than days of casual sightseeing.
This day's worry became the highlight of the week.
James E. McCarthy
Muintir Mathuna - The O'Mahony Society, is the international association of members and friends of the O'Mahony Clan. The O'Mahonys (O'Mathuna in Gaelic) descend from Mathuin (Mahon), son of Cian mac Maol Muadh, Prince of Raithleann, and Saidhb, daughter of Brian Boru. Mathuin became Prince of Raithleann and chief of the Ui Eachach Mumhan in 1014 A.D.
Castle Mahon is also known as Castle Bernard. Castle Mahon was built by the O'Mahony clan not later than 1400. It was of stone and imitated the early 13th Century Norman castles. It would have become apparent to the Chief that a primitive fort such as the earthen ones, known as Raths, would not afford protection in case of a Norman invasion of the territory. A stronghold of the new type was soon provided by the O'Mahonys with Castle Lac, near Bandon, built around 1215.
In 1788 Francis Bernard, who became the 1st Earl of Bandon demolished much of the old O'Mahony castle on the site, and built an 18th century castellated mansion in front of it and slightly to the east. The old O'Mahony castle had been renamed Castle Bernard in 1715 by "Judge" Bernard. The new building was not strictly a castle, but rather an elegant castellated residence even though it continued to bear the name of a castle in the fashion of the time. James Francis Bernard (nicknamed Buckshot Bandon), the 4th Earl of Bandon (1850-1924) was a British Deputy Lieutenant in Ireland and Representative Peer. Lord Bandon was a cousin of the Earl of Middleton, who was head of the southern Irish Unionists at the time of the Anglo-Irish War (1919-1921).
Castle Bernard became known as one of the most hospitable houses in Ireland and the house parties held by the fourth earl and his wife were legendary. In an early morning raid on 21 June 1921 during the days of the Black & Tans, a party of IRA under Sean Hales called. They intended to kidnap Lord Bandon, but 'Buckshot' Bandon and his staff had taken refuge in the cellars. Apparently disappointed in the first object of their call the IRA decided to burn the house.
Hales was heard to say: "well the bird has flown, so we'll burn the nest". At that the Earl and his party appeared from the cellars, but it was too late, the fire had started. Ironically the IRA carefully took out all the furniture and piled it on the lawn before setting the building on fire.
Lady Bandon of that time had to sit and watch the flames for some hours, when the flames were at their height, she suddenly stood up in her nightgown and sang God save the King as loudly as possible, which disconcerted the incendiaries, but while they may not have stood to attention, they let her have her say and did nothing about it.
Lord Bandon was then kidnapped by the local IRA and held hostage for three weeks, being released on 12 July. The IRA threatened to have him executed if the British went ahead with executing IRA prisoners of war. During his captivity, Bandon coolly played cards with his captors, who treated him well. Tom Barry later stated he believed the kidnapping helped move the British towards the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and the cessation of hostilities.
The elderly Earl Bandon never recovered from the experience and died in 1924. Some years later, when the last of the IRA burning party died, the late Lord Paddy Bandon was asked to go to the funeral, which he did - in full funeral regalia of top hat and morning coat.
Castle Bernard continued to be the home of the Earl and Countess of Bandon - they built a small house within the Castle boundary walls. The Earl died in 1979, and as they had no son the title became extinct. Lady Bandon died in 1999 aged 102.
After the death of Lady Jenifer her house and bungalow on the grounds have been made into accommodation by descendant Phil Bernard-Carter and offers rooms available to rent.
This year the clan will gather at Castle Mahon, Bandon, Co Cork from June 21st to Sunday 23rd. All of blood, kin and affection are invited. The O'Mahony Clan has met each year since 1955 at one of their traditional sites. This is an opportunity for clan and the public to view this castle and learn of its history.
Further details from Greg Mahony at firstname.lastname@example.org or the O'Mahony Society: www.omahonysociety.com
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by Michael Green,
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