Sunday, March 1, 2020

Irish Eyes


“Recompose” and an Unofficial Exhumation

And speaking of Kerry. In 1978 a man in Munster was buried twice. The late Great John B. Keane wrote a ballad , to the air of Skibbereen, on the subject, titled The Ballad of Con Carey. There is a radio documentary on the subject which is well worth listening to. Here is the link:

In the meantime here’s John B’s take on it:

The Ballad of Con Carey
  Come all ye loyal heroes and listen to my lay
’Tis all about Con Carey who was taken from the clay
The papers all, they had a ball and the guards made up a case
Not since the time of Lazarus did such a thing take place
At the tender age of sixty nine Con Carey’s final breath
Was drawn within a building site upon his native heath
He fell to foul exposure as he homeward made his way
But alas the clothes he wore that night were only work-a-day
With these upon his unwashed frame, Con Carey was interred
And from the sealed-up ashen lips, no hostile word was heard
But round the grave, his comrades brave were conscious of his plight
And silently they did resolve to set the matter right
The sun was high in the mid-day sky when the cars drew to a halt
Out stepped the crew that then did view each mound and cross and vault
With eyes so keen, they swept the scene where the long green grass did wave
Until they found the latest mound that was Con Carey’s grave
This fearless troop of volunteers marched through the church-yard gate
With single aim it was their game Con’s corpse to decorate
They lay him down in habit brown without a scratch or tear
To shave his mien and make him clean for his trip to Peter’s chair
Yes, to shave his mien and to make him clean so that he’d be no disgrace
To Brosna town of such great renown and to all the Irish race
So that Peter and Paul and the good saints all might take poor Con in tow
And that all cadavers from now on might be dressed before they go
“Bury me dacent, “ Con once said to his comrades loyal and true
“See that I’m shod for the road to God since I’d do the same for you
See that I’m dressed as good as the best but without a flounce or frill
Then lay me down in Mountcollins town where I’ve plenty of time to kill.”
When the deed was done, the guards came on and faced our gallant crew
Out spoke the chief grave-digger saying, “ what were we to do
Could we look on and see poor Con in such a bad repose
And send him straight to Heaven’s gate dressed up in dirty clothes.”

Con Carey

(The twelve people who carried out the charitable task became known as the Twelve Apostles and John B’s son Billy said, “There was no Judas among those Twelve Apostles.”)

* * * * * *

Forward Planning

Is that enough death and disarter for now? Ah . . . we’ll keep going! Whether speaking of ourselves or others the phrase “Pushing up the daisies” rolls off our tongue. The term now has a literal meaning in the USA and it is likely to happen on this island.

Recompose is a very small team who are working hard towards the opening their first location in Seattle in spring 2021. According to Anna Swenson, Communications Manager, their aim is to turn corpses into compost suitable for fertilising garden soil. Last May Washington State legalised the composting of human bodies. Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation allowing the practice of “aboveground decomposition,” making Washington the first state in the USA — and likely the first place in the world, legal experts said — to explicitly allow human remains to become compost…

And Recompose will manufacture composting pods in which the corpse will be placed. Wood chips and straw will be added and oxygen pumped in to accelerate decomposition. After about one month the body will be composted ready to, "grow new life."

I don’t know if the “new life” is superior to what is produced by ordinary compost. But I do know that in my schooldays there was a profusion of blackthorns, Prunus spinosa (I’m showing off now) in Templeboden graveyard. And the sloes from them was more succulent and juicy than anything in the surrounding fields.

According to Recompose a human body will yield a cubic yard of compost. One of the team says, “By allowing organic processes to transform our bodies into a useful amendment we help to strengthen our relationship to the material cycles while enriching the Earth.” Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation on Wednesday allowing the practice of “aboveground decomposition,” making Washington the first state in the America and possibly likely the first place in the world, legal experts said — to explicitly allow human remains to become compost…

The process involves placing unembalmed human remains wrapped in a shroud in a 5-foot-by-10-foot cylindrical vessel with a bed of organic material such as wood chips, alfalfa and straw,” NBC reports. “Air is then periodically pulled into the vessel, providing oxygen to accelerate microbial activity. Within approximately one month, the remains are reduced to a cubic yard of compost.”

What are the chances of the powers that be on this island, north and south, taking a leaf out of Washington State’s book?

* * * * * *

Message for the Lacken Diaspora; The Lacken Community Development Association have erected an interpretive panel in our native village.

See you in April.

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