Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Rebel Songs, Men's Sheds and A Memoir

We Were Rich and We Didn’t Know It.

Tom Phelan was born and raised on a farm in County Laois. His first novel, In the Season of the Daisies, was published to acclaim when he was fifty, prompting one reviewer to write, “The most obvious question posed by a novelistic debut with as much resounding vigour as this is: Where has Mr. Phelan been?” Since then, Tom has written the novels Iscariot, Derrycloney, The Canal

Bridge, Nailer, and Lies the Mushroom Pickers Told. He lives with his wife in New York

His latest, a memoir of his Irish boyhood, We were Rich and We Didn’t Know It consists of 42 stories from his early days in Mountmellick. Many prominent Irish writers have given us memoirs of their early years and To Phelan can hold his own with the best of them.

The first story JohnJoe’s Clever Plan is a fascinating tale of his father’s cunning plan to rid the homestead of a “spinster” sister so that he could get married. The ploy, from which all concerned, including the sister, benefitted was the work of a genius. The next 41 stories in the collection are no less gripping.

Tom lives in New York with his wife. When asked what he misses most about Ireland he replied,” It is now 47 years since I left Ireland. I will always be Irish in my brain and in my heart. The Ireland I knew was the country of my childhood and youth. That Ireland is gone forever and I can never go back to it. But! There have been many times in the past when I longed for the peace and quiet of the Irish countryside.Whenever we feel overwhelmed with the noise and pace of life, my Brooklyn-born wife, Patricia, a descendant of Irish emigrants, will say to me, ‘It’s time for the farm in Ireland.’What I miss most about Ireland is being in places like the Slieve Bloom Mountains, where it is so quiet that only the wind and birdsong are heard.

We were Rich and We Didn’t Know It is published by Gallery Books. Details; business@simonandschuster.com

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Easter 1916

The songs. The stories. The vision.

Irish Rebellions & Revolutions is a 3-CD set which has 36 tracks which includes many songs which were written and sung about The Easter Rising, The War of Independence and The Civil War and previous Fenian risings. Songs such as The Foggy Dew, James Connolly The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Mickey MacConnell’s Only Our Rivers Run free. Top Irish singers featured include Paddy Reilly, Patsy Watchorn, Finbar Furey, Johnny McEvoy and many more.

Poems written by Padraig Pearse, Sean O’ Casey and W.B. Yeats as well as a commemorative poster of THE PROCLAMATION OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC are also included in this anthology.

Those poems and songs give a voice to those who fought and died in the cause of Irish freedom.

It is a must for Christmas and will make a wonderful present. Details from; essentialirish.com

Or info@dolphinmusicgroup.com

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Photos: Dandy Lodge 1903 and Dandy Lodge 2020.

The people of Listowel may ,not always, be able be able to move mountains but they sure can move houses. In this 1903 picture in the National Library Collection, the Dandy Lodge, Listowel, is visible in its original location on the left looking towards town. In October 1989 the Dandy Lodge was demolished and rebuilt in Childers' Park. Denis Carroll videod the move and uploaded it to youtube. Here is the link;

Link 2: youtube.com/watch?v=lzXPh2-

The Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA) was established in 2007 by the Australian independent community-based Men’s Sheds to represent, support and promote the Men’s Shed movement. It was founded on the principle of sharing information between sheds and those communities wishing to establish and operate a Men’s Shed. It acts as a central hub for information exchange. At the time it was recognised as one of Australia’s largest male based community development organisations. In the thirteen years since the idea has spread worldwide. In the thirteen years since their idea has spread worldwide. As I write there are 450 Men’s Sheds in Ireland with 10,500 members. Sean Farrington of the Irish Men’s Sheds Support Group ,told me “.We need support. In these hard times with the pandemic many of those men mainly over 70 years old have no IPhones but in some cases don't have a phone to make contact with their friends. So we started a campaign and ask people to donate their old good phone and we can distribute and make them user friendly for them, maybe your friends would get together and send some to me please, my email to contact me first is : seanfarrington64@gmail.com”MEN’S SHEDS

Happy Christmas.

See you next year.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


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