The West's Awake by Cormac MacConnell
'Warm and still above ground' or 'Livin' to die and dyin' to live'
Posted on Thursday, September 01, 2011 at 09:06 AM
- An open letter to President Obama - some handy local tips for his visit to Ireland
- Some wonderful discoveries - relishing Irish trad session, The Gathering visitors and more
- The swallows return, beard competition, historic crimes and other musings
- A new taste of spring in Ireland- Tayto crisp’s cheese and onion chocolate bar
- Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth and the two Marys - Now it the time for a woman Prime Minister in Ireland
|Former presidential candidate Gay Byrne|
The blackbirds and thrushes and starlings accordingly are on their annual cider binge, pecking at the windfalls. By the late evening some of them are flying unsteadily on one wing. If they were mortal motorists the police would stop them for drunk driving and put them in jail.
I have some fun with my neighbor Jimmy White across the road, a man I mentioned to ye recently. He is now hale and hearty again and restructuring his fine garden by having a boundary wall constructed.
The work is being carried out by four Polish block layers. It is quite a significant wall but the quartet has it built and the site cleared in two days.
I have never seen any squad of men carry out so much work so quickly and competently. I've certainly never seen four Irish block layers work so hard.
I'm a bit ashamed to admit that, but it is the truth. Somebody in the roadside debate which develops around Jimmy's new wall suggests that four Irish block layers working in Poland might lay even more blocks. Perhaps that is a reality too.
The news breaks on the roadside that Fianna Fail are putting pressure on legendary broadcaster Gay Byrne to run for president of Ireland. I think to myself that our Niall O’Dowd is lucky to have decided to withdraw early from the race.
Byrne, 77, though officially retired from RTE and the Late Late Show for years, has never been able to leave the limelight. He is to be heard and seen as often now as ever before.
Though it’s since come to pass that he declined to run for the position, I wouldn’t have voted for him myself but Tom and Dick and Harry would have, I think, and certainly Mary and Josephine and Bridget.
He wouldn’t have made a bad president either, I have to admit though, tongue in cheek, there are likely to be more tea parties in the official residence after he moves in. Read that any way you want!
A neighbor woman passes me by as I'm returning to the cottage. We exchange greetings without breaking step, but I memorize her splendid response to my ritual.
"How are you this evening?"
She replies, " Well I'm still warm and above ground!"
I have not heard that one before. My own favorite is "Livin' to die and dyin' to live!" but I decide to adopt hers for a while, maybe until the autumn comes in anyway.
And the next evening, on a meander again, I'm in Ennistymon in West Clare, town of my many memories and gentle ghosts. There is a lively arts festival in full flight and the place is buzzing with music, song and culture.
There is an arts group from Estonia called Liquid who are quite special, and a spirited discussion in the arts center (which used serve as the town courthouse) rounds off the evening.
The subject is the power of the local dimension, not just in Ireland but globally. It is quite fascinating.
As a media man I cannot deny it when it is put to me at some stage that the traditional media are nowadays being very often marginalized by the power and immediacy of the social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
They are organizing revolutions, says somebody, when fellows like yourself are simply reporting yesterday's news!
I stop in Ennis for one drink on my way home. Ciaran's at the end of Francis Street has ever been one of my favorite haunts, and I take a stool and ask for a beer shandy.
A man whom I've not met for a long time asks me how I've been keeping in the meantime.
"I'm still warm and above ground!"