Monday, 17 March 2014

This blog is discontinued. For the moment or maybe forever. Who knows?

 Conan Kennedy now operates several new sites....

CHRISTMAS.EVE, an online interactive novel published in weekly chapters...FREE to download and read on any platform. Right here.

CONNECTIONS, a  site dealing with old photographs, right here.

The main website, Conan Kennedy Central so to speak, is still

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Cousin of The Month

Been away, back now.

Those of you who pay the remotest attention to my interests/books/writings etc will know that I spend (too?) much time on genealogy and tracking down dead ancestors and living cousins and the likes. 

Sometimes results are good.

I have now discovered a new cousin, and here she is... the green dress. No I haven't a clue who all the apparachiks in suits are, but, as well as being gorgeous, she is my First Cousin Twice Removed and an actress in London and here she is as Maid Marian. 

Her name is Jessica Hern. 


I don't do twitter but if anyone does, tell her I said Hi.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Killala Ghosts

It's not often a British Union Flag flies over the streets of my home town of Killala in County Mayo. But there it is in recent days, a ghostly memory of different times.

We are celebrating the events of 1798, when a French force invaded these parts to assist in the rising of the United Irishmen.

The French were led by General Humbert, a revolutionary soldier who had spent his earlier career slaughtering unrevolutionary peasants in his native country.  But hey, who's counting. He came here to help us and he's our guy.

He and his army arrived in Kilcummin, a remote enough spot some miles from the town. And yesterday our ceremonies kicked off out there, the flagship of the Irish Naval Service (paid for by the EU) moored out in the bay and a giant Sikorski helicopter of the Irish Coast Guard (run by a Canadian company) clattering overhead.

Independence was well worth the struggle.

It was a great morning. A "military re-enactor" gotten up as General Humbert landed in a small boat, his soldiers presented arms, and speeches were made.Quite a few in fact, one by a local TD, John O'Mahony. No-one here actually knows that much about the same John, he being a sort of gofer and sidekick and local point man for our real TD, Enda Kenny, who is the Taoiseach.  John last came into prominence when he wrestled with his conscience over the abortion legislation. He won, and he still has his job. Not that anyone knows what his job is. Apart from welcoming Frenchmen dressed as 18th century generals to the shores of Kilcummin. And he did it very well indeed.

Onward then to the streets of the ancient town of Killala, streets which were  occupied by British forces. Sort of. The streets were actually occupied by British military re-enactors. My camera found the beautiful one, and here she is.  The rest were mostly jovial sorts of blokes who looked like they also had a serious interest in real ale, lots of real ale.  In this they were pretty well matched with the French re-enactors marching on them from Kilcummin, those Frenchmen too a jovial sort, no strangers to the well stocked table and the convivial bar.

The forces clashed in the town.

Muskets crackled and cannons roared. 

The French troops were assisted by a motley crowd of Irish irregulars, Pike Men as we call them. Several of these I knew well as staunch supporters of the declining pub industry in these parts,  and so irregular was precisely the right word. It was all very authentic.

We won.

I did hear a call from the defeated British ranks, "we'll be back", and, though I think it was a joke, he wasn't kidding.

The British did come back in 1798. After initial successes the French and Irish forces were defeated, and British troops and their supporting militias swept back over the countryside. Think Syria. Things were especially bad right here in the town of Killala. Hundreds were killed by the militias, dozens hanged by the army. 

I know this well, being somewhat of an historian. But I also know it in a different way. Our house on the edge of the town was formerly a couple of ancient cottages. And the roadway here was one time known as The Path of The Slaughter. For the simple reason that the militias coming into the town after the collapse of 1798 came into all the cottages along and killed the inhabitants.

My children brought up here, they know this too. Not as historians, no, but as little ones complaining of ghosts. And now as adults being none too keen to visit, lest their childhood ghosts come back to haunt.

Ah sure, ghosts don't bother me. 

It's the living sometimes worry.

And  hey, I've just got an email from Ryanair, reminding me I'm off to Italy next week.

Oh well, needs must.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Booker...and psychopaths

A countryman of mine has written a book called The Spinning Heart. It's longlisted for the Booker Prize, so that's good for the author Donal Ryan. Not that I quite approve of Donal Ryan writing books, him being a Civil Servant and thus what Dublin taxidrivers call a double jobber

Translation/exposition: double jobbing taxi drivers are taking the bread out of the mouths of Dublin taxi drivers...and double jobbing writers are  taking the bread out of the mouths of full time professional writers like myself. Taxi drivers and me are ad idem on this, as we are on many other important topics. Like where could it all end? 

How and ever. Let's hope he wins. He'll earn big bucks. He'll jack in the day job. This will create a vacancy in the Civil Service. They won't fill it. The more unfilled vacancies in the Civil Service the better the running of the country. It's night follows day stuff. Simple economics. Taxi drivers and myself understand these things.

How and ever, again. I'd never really heard of Donal Ryan, not paying much attention to literary things or the Booker goings on. ( Like...they don't pay much attention to me...) 

I first heard of him while reading the culture section of the Daily Telegraph. (I need that info for talking to Dublin taxi drivers.) More specifically, I was reading a review of his book by one Catherine Taylor. I know nothing about her. And she's probably not related to Ruth Taylor...
Yes, that's her, the cover girl and the protagonist in my novel The Colour of Her Eyes. 
Ruth is a single Mum with a murky sexual past living in Bognor Regis. She's hardly related to Catherine Taylor, Daily Telegraph Book Reviewer. . But...there again...Taylor is not that common a name...

How and ever, for the third time. Catherine, whoever she is and whomsoever she is related to, does not strike me as being a native Irish woman. This, of course, in the Daily Telegraph's editorial eyes makes her the perfect person to discuss Ireland and review Irish novels. And she does it nicely. Fair and generous enough, she does mention however that there are some false notes in our double jobbing Civil Servant's opus. One of these is, she suggests, and I quote, "it seems unlikely that such a small locale can produce not one but three potential psychopaths."


The book is set in LIMERICK !!!!

Limerick has whole areas almost entirely occupied by psychopaths.  That's a big city...but...every small village in Ireland has at least one. A three psychopath village is nothing to us native Irish. We laugh at those places. Dismiss them as irrelevant and as somehow failing to live up to the Irish thing, all that.

Enough said.


There's no such thing as a free lunch, all that. But there are some  free books just a couple of clicks away. One is by myself and one is...not. Though I did edit it.  Whether any of that is good or bad or indifferent is up to the reader. 

Go to my website to get hold of A Walk on The Southside. That'll only be up there free for awhile, so act now, who hesitates is lost, etc.  
The Mysterious Mary H is available from my Academia site, which for some reason always seems to need refreshing...but worth the wait.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


I've been thinking about yuccas recently. 

Well, for the last forty eight hours or so. Before that I hadn't been thinking about yuccas at all. Not really, though I do recall seeing some on display outside a store in Toronto. And yes, I do recall...yes yes it's all coming back to me as I write, I do recall thinking then that I hadn't seen a yucca in a long while. 

The thought passed. 

I came back to Ireland and there I was, forty eight hours ago, sitting in The Bayside Inn in Sutton in County Dublin. It was very quiet. I hadn't been there for a few months but the same people seemed to be sitting there in the same seats, being very quiet. It was strange for me to think, to realise that all the while I was away in North America these same people had been sitting here. Not missing me in the slightest. The relationship was mutual.

The deceased husband of a girlfriend of mine once told me that it took a good ten years to build up a relationship with a pub. He actually told me a lot of other stuff, me being the lover of his wife, like, but what sticks in my mind is that particular notion, that it takes a good ten years to build up a relationship with a pub. 

Now I don't know about this at all. It may well do, but it is not necessarily so, not necessary that any relationship will be built up at all.  I have been going to the Bayside Inn in Sutton for ten years or so. Every few months. Say maybe six or seven times a year. And, hand on heart, I can say that  I have absolutely no relationship with the Bayside Inn in Sutton, nor with its denizens. And I could be going there for the next ten years, and I can confidently assert that I would have built up no relationship.

So there. But...doubts creep in...maybe that is the nature of the relationship? Maybe a relationship that doesn't exist is in fact a relationship?

Is this all getting a bit Wittgenstein?

Perhaps. So, these yuccas. There I was sitting in my non-relationship with the establishment, a sort of dark matter relationship...there I was and I became conscious of being watched. I put up with this for awhile and then looked around. And there they were, a row of yucca plants along a shelf, watching me. Four or five or maybe even six yucca plants. I didnt count. There was enough. There was actually too many. Because that's the thing about yucca plants, they are a singular, should be anyway. One is quite enough. After that they get sinister. They kind of gang up on you. And one becomes aware...of the yuccas of North County Dublin and the yuccas of Toronto...their totality...

That's all I have to say on the matter.


I see I have a new follower on my Academia site.  She's looks very nice. Here she is below. She's interested in Early Photography. And so am I. And she's also interested in The Life and Works of Mary Hayden. And so am I .

But I wonder if she's interested in yucca plants?

Barbara Lawson

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Madonna in Monkstown.

Well that was a good six month break from the slavery of the screen.

Have been in Canada for this last month...don't knock it, it's a great country...Toronto is a great city...Soby's at Yonge and St Claire is a great supermarket...Jingles is a great pub...(with the exception of their "chef's salad" which is a few olives buried in a  pile of lettuce leaves...)

And so, now that I'm a leading food writer, I have to mention that I'm barely back in Ireland when I see Madonna walking along by Monkstown Church in County Dublin...well I don't actually see her, not in the flesh (don't tempt me) but rather I see a photo of Madonna walking along by Monkstown Church in County Dublin...she is, the caption tells me, accompanied by her bodyguard and some female friends.

This bodyguard concept is a good idea, Monkstown is a notoriously dangerous area. I found it dangerous when I lived there. Though it must be admitted that most of the danger in my case was created by my female friends. Wrote a book about all that.

I tell my wife H, about whom I wrote that book, that Madonna has been in Monkstown County Dublin.

"What was she doing", says H, "adopting children?"

It's one of her sardonic mornings.

Life does that to a woman. Particularly life with me.

"No", I tell her, "it's all about food".

So what has Madonna got to do with food?

Ah hah...this is the thing...Madonna is going (in the picture on my screen) to the funeral of David Collins.

Oh God, David Collins is not dead is he?

Oh yes he is, and  I don't even know who he is. Quick google. Oh God again. He's a celebrity architect from Glenageary in County Dublin. And he's designed every restaurant worth going to in London. And he wears velvet jackets. And Graham Norton was also at the funeral. And and and...the details pile up...but those relevant to myself are hidden, obscured...I's much like poking through  the lettuce leaves in Jingles pub at Yonge and St Claire, looking  for the damn olives...

Ah hah.

Olive one...Collins went to St Conleths School in Dublin...SO DID I ...

Olive two...Collins designed the Wolsley Restaurant in London...I  HAD BREAKFAST THERE ONCE !

Olive three...Collins's father was an architect Jack Collins of Glenageary County Dublin....ah hah...ah bloody hah...I knew that old boy, vaguely, by repute...and long years ago when I was setting up my horticultural business (another blog, another day, another blog, be patient) I bought some equipment from a secondhand salesrooms which, I learned, had originally been in Collins's offices...

How about that then? It's eerie. The connections between myself and David Collins are obviously multifaceted and extensive. The cosmos does have an architect.

Dammit. I should've been at that funeral. I feel guilty now. I just should've been there. And what was I doing instead?

Well...back in Toronto I didn't spend all my time in Soby's Supermarket or Jingles Pub, I was actually working as well. And part of my work  was to visit and meet and talk to a very elderly lady from Ireland. A jewish lady, she is the surviving sister of Ettie Steinberg, the only Irish victim of Auschwitz, about whom I have written in the past.

I did all that and came back to Ireland with my notes and my photographs and I went to my house and I cut my grass and then I sat down to write about the elderly Jewish lady and her life and all that, and how her murdered sister did not have a life nor a chance to be an elderly lady in Toronto surrounded by a huge loving family.

Yep, that sort of peripheral stuff.

When I could indeed should have been at the funeral of a posh restaurant designer.

Me and Madonna.

Saturday, 19 January 2013


As mentioned previous posting, the NOTEBOOK is closed...('tho you can still read the entries by scrolling around here)...from now on such postings (as they are) will be on the main page under the LATEST heading...thing is, if the thousands of people who have read NOTEBOOK over the past couple of years had bought books then I'd have the time to write more NOTEBOOK...but they haven't, and I haven't.

Other could-be-interesting material still here in seperate locations  focuses on

Genealogy , and  Old Photographs,

There's an archive of published articles and suchlike on topics various right here
(Be patient with that link, might need to refresh, reason obscure.)

Same place has access to download a free book !