Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Irish Eyes



By Mattie Lennon

Famous Newly-weds, A GAA Legend and
Too Much Laughter in Dingle

Pauline Clooney spent thirty years as a teacher and gave up moulding the minds of the young in 2017 to become a full-time writer. She is a doctoral student of creative writing with NUIM and is an experienced workshop facilitator. She established The Kildare Writing Centre, where she facilitates courses in creative writing for adults. Her academic achievements include a MLitt in English Literature (2007) and a first-class honour Masters in Creative Writing from UCD (2015).

In 2015 Pauline won the Penguin Ireland/ RTE Guide Short Story competition. Her work was shortlisted for competition too numerous to mention. She has now given us a work of genius in Charlotte & Arthur.

Arthur Bells Nicholls was born in Killead, County Antrim in 1819. He was educated at the Royal Free School in Banagher. Not the Banagher as in”It beats . . . “) It is in County Derry. Arthur’s Alma Mater was in Banagher County Offaly (King’s County at the time) where the headmaster was his uncle, Alan Bell. He graduated from Trinity College 1844 and was ordained as a deacon in 1845 in Lichfield and became Patrick Brontë's curate in June that year. Although he visited the poor of the parish frequently, he could be strict and conservative. In 1847 he carried out a campaign to prevent women from hanging their washing out to dry in the cemetery.

On June 29th, 1854 he married Patrick Brontë’ s daughter Charlotte, a 38 year old spinster, in Haworth. Only a handful of guests have been invited, and you and in Pauline Clooney’s superbly written work you are one of them. The reader accompanies the newly married couple every step of the way from Haworth to Banagher and many historical further south such as Killarney and west Cork.

Not looking forward to the lonely life of of the unmarried Charlotte embarked on what she saw as a calculated risk. She grew to love Arthur but saw him as her intellectual inferior. Pauline Clooney puts philosophical snippets into the mouth of Charlotte, which, I believe the great novelist would have been proud of, such as, “You can always rely on cultural references, Arthur, to banish philistines.”

The former schoolteacher gets into the head of Charlotte and mines it for doubts and insecurities while on her honeymoon, “She wanted to say something to him, something personal, but what if this was one of those fleeting moments, that balmy, summer evenings trick us into believing are glimpse of eternal happiness.”

Not alone can this author construct the sentence structures of mid-eighteenth English speech but the Dublinese of the same period. A waiter in the Shelbourne Hotel asks Arthur, “ Sorry, Sir, wha’ room are yous in, an’ will ya be wantin’cake wit’ yer tay?” She makes sure that Charlotte’s character, gazing through the carriage window, at governesses et al on Merrion Square, appreciates how her talent has enabled her to lead, a privileged life; “ How different her life could have been, had not her creative gifts freed her from what was to her a life of slavery to families who, regardless of how included in their domestic life the endeavoured to make you feel, they were always quick, especially when visitors called, to remind you of your lower station and your service position.”

Charlotte and Arthur is published by Merdog Books; publication date is October 01st. Don’t miss this chance to travel with the newly-weds through England, Wales and Ireland.

For PR, sales and information contact Aoife Grant;

* * * * *

GAA legend Mícheál O'Muircheartaigh has turned 91. (See pic above.) Here is a collection of some of his more colourful witty comments over the decades; the list was given to me by Donegal man John Cassidy, author of Buses, Trains and Gaelic Games. (This is the same well-known John Cassidy who, when he was a bus-driver met some people while on Holiday in Spain. His new friends decided to contact him but didn’t have an address. They addressed their communication to “Somewhere in Dublin.” See the pic. It was delivered safely) Pic show Cassidy with a former American Ambasador; other pic shows the communication.

“ Seán Óg Ó hAilpín: his father’s from Fermanagh, his mother’s from Fiji. Neither a hurling stronghold.”
“ …and Brian Dooher is down injured. And while he is, I’ll tell ye a little story: I was in Times Square in New York last week, and I was missing the Championship back home. So I approached a newsstand and I said, “I suppose ye wouldn’t have The Kerryman, would ye?” To which, the Egyptian behind the counter turned to me and he said, “Do you want the North Kerry edition, or the South Kerry edition?” He had both – so I bought both. And Dooher is back on his feet…”
“Anthony Lynch, the Cork corner-back, will be the last person to let you down – his people are undertakers.”
“Colin Corkery on the 45 lets go with the right boot. It's over the bar. This man shouldn’t be playing football. He’s made an almost Lazarus-like recovery from a heart condition. Lazarus was a great man but he couldn’t kick points like Colin Corkery.”
“The stopwatch has stopped. It’s up to God and the referee now. The referee is Pat Horan. God is God.”
“Teddy McCarthy to Mick McCarthy, no relation, Mick McCarthy back to Teddy McCarthy, still no relation.”
“I saw a few Sligo people at Mass in Gardiner Street this morning and the omens seem to be good for them. The priest was wearing the same colours as the Sligo jersey! 40 yards out on the Hogan Stand side of the field, Ciarán Whelan goes on a rampage… it’s a goal! So much for religion.”
“He grabs the sliothar, he’s on the 50! He’s on the 40! He’s on the 30… he’s on the ground!”
“Pat Fox out to the forty and grabs the sliothar. I bought a dog from his father last week. Fox turns and sprints for goal… the dog ran a great race last Tuesday in Limerick… Fox, to the 21, fires a shot – it goes to the left and wide… and the dog lost as well.”
“In the first half, they played with the wind. In the second half, they played with the ball.”
“1-5 to 0-8… well, from Lapland to the Antarctic, that’s level scores in any man’s language.”
“Pat Fox has it on his hurl and is motoring well now, but here comes Joe Rabbitte hot on his tail… I’ve seen it all now, a Rabbitte chasing a Fox around Croke Park!”
“Teddy looks at the ball, the ball looks at Teddy…”
“Mike Houlihan for Limerick. He had his jaw broken by a kick from a bullock two months ago. He’s back now. ‘Twas some bullock that broke Mike Houlihan’s jaw!' “

There you have it, a few gems from the Dingle man. And staying in that part of the world, the owner of a restaurant in Co. Kerry was left completely baffled after a customer had the nerve to complain that there was "too much laughter". Jim McCarthy, who runs the award-winning Chart House Restaurant in Dingle, couldn’t believe his ears.

"Tonight a guest complained, she was not happy there was too much laughter in the restaurant, I'm lost for words. Honestly, lost for word after opening the restaurant in 1997, I really thought I had heard it all."

See you in October.

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

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