Sunday, 30 September 2012


This much I know.

I don't English speak very well. I talking about?

The Guardian newspaper, that's what. It runs a column, or columns a run, if you prefer, entitled this much I know. The content is the same old same old, a few hundred words by no you've never heard of them either. But the title of the pieces, that annoys me. It's pretentious and portentous and lots of other things ending in ous. But hell, it's in the Guardian. A newspaper I only read to avoid The Irish Times. And hell again, I'll you tell, so know you this much, I that never read.

Enough already.

Myself and herself are currently sleeping on a mattress in a room which once was the living room. We now use another room entirely as a living room, a room in the newer part of the house. But the former living room is in the very old part of the house, as is the bedroom we have migrated from. That's all by the by, just setting the scene.

The mattress lies up against a range of bookshelves which act as a sort of headboard. And it is my habit betimes to reach out a hand blindly and take an arbitrary book down. I do this over my head and cannot see which book it is until it is in my hand. It makes for a surprise. It's a journey and exciting. We have been married a while and one must spice up one's bedtime as best one can.

Thing is, becuse this is the abandoned living room, the books in the shelves are likewise, yesterday's items, abandoned, many forgotten  and some by Edna O'Brien. The book that came into my hand on a particular day this week  was an Anthology of Dalkey, my home town, a pretty little town on the edge of Dublin. Bono lives there now, I don't.

I flipped through the pages of the anthology, a type of memoir, local history. And there I saw a photograph of a man by the name of Dessie Swords.

Ah hah, I said to myself. I knew that Dessie Swords, when I was a child he was Desmond, the verger of the church. Cassock clad he lit the candles before Mass. And rang the daily angelus that pealed acoss the town, at twelve and at six and my Granny crossing herself and muttering incantations.

I had not seen nor heard of him for fifty years.

Thing is, Desmond was part of my early childhood. And, like my Granny and my childhood, he's long gone. And which stars in the sky are the candles he lights in the darkness...that sort of gone.

I put the book back in the shelf and, as The Guardian might say, I no more thought about it. That very day I had to go to Dublin. For work and a spot of socialising. The work was work and the socialising in the evening was to have a meal with a woman whom I had not met for thirty five years. Living in America now, she was visiting Ireland and had got in touch. So myself and my wife and herself and her husband and my mate Michael-the-Mystic all met up to eat. In Michael's  house in Dalkey, my old home town. (He, being a mystic, can afford to live there).

Angela and Daniel were a very nice and interesting couple. Everything went swimmingly. Apart from the salmon which my wife had brought along...that didn't ...the guests were vegetarians.

Angela did not come from natural vegetarian territory. On the contrary, she came from an area of nearby DunLaoghaire where, my father used say, "they eat their young". But then, my father said things like that. Those that read my just published book Fragments from Frescati will understand his reasons. Whatever, Angela .comes from what us southsiders know as The Noggin, which is a large working class area of public housing. As mentioned, I come from Dalkey, which is not. (Bono lives there.) But Angela and I had known each other and had met and mingled back in the old hippie days when class and the like were meaningless.

Yeah right.

Anyway, we discussed the writing life and days gone by, and certain people remembered, many best forgotten. Sometime between the vegetarian spaghetti bolognese (don't even ask) and the vegetarian roulade Angela mentioned that as a child she used come right here to Dalkey to visit her Uncle Dessie. In Begnet's Villas.
"Uncle Dessie?"
"Yes, he was the verger in Dalkey Church."
"Dessie Swords? He was your uncle?"
Ah, I thought, remembering that very morning in my idle bed. And my fingers  playing the unseen spines of unknown books... like a blind piano player looking for a tune.
And finding it.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Bad week, good week.

Bad week. Car broke down. € 1000 or thereabouts. So that means 500 of you folks have to download an EBook of mine, or 200 of you have to buy a printed book. So let's hope everone rallies round. Steps up to the plate, all that. Words are cheap. Major engine works on a VW Passat are not. Bloody Germans, first Angela Merkel, now this.

Good week. Well, good in the sense that one of the beautiful daughters appears on Page 27 of Gaelsceal, the Irish newspaper. Irish language newspaper. And here she is. On right of photo.

For the benefit of the few of you who don't understand Irish I will translate. Roughly. This beautiful daughter is a radio producer/presenter, and the article is about a series of her radio shows dealing with minority beliefs in Ireland. Here in the photo she is with a few of her pagans. Irish-speaking bodhran-banging pagans. I like to think that my book Ancient Ireland-Users Guide is responsible for the growing interest in such ancient practices.

But it probably goes deeper than that.

Good week too in that the mother of one of my beautiful daughters appears on Page Three of The Western People. 

There she is, unveiling a plaque, rather than herself, which most women on page threes of Irish newspapers are doing. I dealt with all that memorial plaque business in my September Ninth posting. But of course it seems much more real when one sees it reported in the media. Which is the world we live in.

And which reminds me. I myself haven't been mentioned in a newspaper for months.

Bad news? Or good news?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

OK I'm back.

No I haven't been here for going on two months. And a quick check of this blog's stats show that, if anything, readership has gone up in my absence.

The less I write the more readers I get?

Some message there, best not go too deeply.

One of the things I've been busy with is a military ceremony to honour the memory of my wife's late father, an Irish Army officer. And here she is, walking ahead of some troops on the way to unveiling a plaque in Admiral Brown Park in County Mayo's Foxford. And yes she is the same woman who appears on the cover and in the pages of my best selling A Walk On The South Side.

And here are some more pictures. For which I am grateful to Lam Lee who came all the way from Toronto to the ceremony. And that's her (guess which?) with Jane Edwards who came from the UK. Both for family connection reasons. We're a widely scattered bunch. And yes those are glasses on the table of Brennan's Lane Restaurant, pride of Ballina nightlife.

And here is Colonel Aherne, making his speech at the ceremony, the band in the background.

Yes it all went well.

Also in my absence from this blog location, three new books of mine were published. Not one, not two, but three. This may sound magnificent  but one of them (Fragments from Frescati)  had been hanging round for quite some time, awaiting its moment. That moment has now come. Fragments from Frescati is now in the bookshop, as is Boy on A Bicycle.  Details of these on my website. (Non fiction, they probably won't be E for awhile.) The third is the print version of the novel The Snake Dancer of Sati Choura. That has available as an EBook for a few months, though with a different cover. Same words.


So after all that I went home.

There I was at home to find that the local population are celebrating the nineteenth century composer William Vincent Wallace. They're not exactly dancing in the streets but a committee is up to things, concerts and talks and the likes. This I found interesting because my book Fragments from Frescati has two pages on the same William Vincent.  Also interesting because William Vincent was son of an army bandmaster and I had just come from being entertained by an Irish army band.

It all hangs together.

William Vincent Wallace is described in the publicity material for the shindig here as "colourful".

That he was. As teacher of music in a convent he ran away with one of the schoolgirls to Australia, fathered two children on her, abandoned her to a life of poverty and went about his business. Which was pretty damn murky.

OK. Those who have already read  A Walk On The South Side. will know that I also married  a schoolgirl and thus should cease casting aspersions.

Yeah but I didn't abandon her to a life of poverty. I share it with her.

And, more importantly, being kind of classy, we went to America, not Australia.