Illustration by Caty Bartholomew
For starters on the lighter side of life, can I tell ye that my email account was spamicated foully a couple of weeks ago by, I think, some African rascal out to make a quick shilling for himself and a lot more if possible.

That was why everyone on my contact list (including many regular readers here) received a very sad emergency message allegedly from me. It said I was in the bowels of darkest Africa and my wallet had been stolen, and please send me on £1,200 sterling urgently.

I was, in fact, mellowly enjoying the glorious March weather of brightest Clare at the time and had still got a few euros in my wallet. Disregard any similar messages allegedly from me until I mend my security fences properly.

Thanks to all of you who got in touch out of concern, especially my old friend Austin Biesty from Roscommon.  Enough of that.

And hello again from scandal-ripped and corrupt but still incredibly resilient and merry western Ireland.

It is true!  The Mahon Tribunal report has led to the resignation (before push) of flamboyant former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern and his cocky Mayo henchman Pee Flynn, poor Fianna Fail are in deep trauma and have been passed out in the opinion polls by Sinn Fein, now seen as the main opposition party.

Most of our bankers are disgraced, the planning process has been shown as being deeply corrupt, and
Enda Kenny's government is under extreme pressure because it wants to levy a 100 charge on every householder in the state.

And new regulations for rural septic tanks could cost individuals up to 5,000 each.  And house prices have fallen about 50% since the peak of the boom.

And the wise Pope, as I predicted, considers it safer to visit Cuba than us.  I could go on and on.

But none of these economics and socials hurt us half as much as the recent fact that England's rugby team hammered us off the field in Twickenham on St. Patrick's Day, that Rory McIlroy is no longer golfing's Number 1, and that Glasgow Celtic were unable to defeat bitter rivals Rangers on Rangers' home ground.

I swear that we are more profoundly affected by sporting defeats than by the ordinary challenges of life.  I don't quite understand why this is the case, but it surely is. On balance we are probably better off that way.

When young Rory reaches the peak of his sport again soon – maybe after this week’s Masters -- there will be no recessionary talk of any kind for a fortnight! And that will happen even if the rump of Fianna Fail decides to dissolve itself and retire rather than face the ire of the people again.

More good news though.  I mentioned recently that plans are afoot for a very special weekend in the Burren when distinguished bards and poets and knights of the road will gather in the village of Carron.

The organizers there had no date when I talked to them last, but this week confirmed that the hosting takes place on the weekend of April 21 and -- knowing the Burren folk -- will probably run all the way through to the following weekend at least. 

Some of the best poets and storytellers in the land will join scores of musicians and dancers and colorful knights of all the roads for the event. I'm not a show plugger and I have no commercial connection of any kind with the project, but try and get there if you are in Ireland then.  It would even be worthwhile, dammit, to make a special trip.

Burren events, like the internationally famed Lisdoonvarna matchmaking month of September, are always as uniquely different as the flora and fauna.

And here's a story heard yesterday which reflects well on the canniness and sheer brainpower of the men of Sligo.

Older readers who were born in Ireland may have memories of the big Saturday night cleanup in the family homes in advance of the family heading to Mass on Sunday mornings. A major element of that was the shining of mens' and boys' shoes with two brushes and a tin of polish. All the shoes were black.

Ye will remember that the toughest part of the whole operation was getting the lid off the strong little narrow little polish tins. When you tried to knock it off with the edge of one of the brushes you were certain either to bruise your fingers or for the whole tin, still tightly closed, to be driven out of your hand under the dresser.  Remember?

That is where a Gurteen man called Harvey came into the picture in the forties. There is clear evidence that he emigrated to England to work on the building sites as a laborer.

There is also clear evidence that he returned home less than two years later, dressed to kill, spending money like water, and in the prime of good health.

He quickly bought a fine farm in South Sligo and lived a prosperous life thereafter. 

And how did he make his money so quick?  I was informed that Harvey walked into the office of the leading shoe polish company one Monday morning, wearing his Sunday suit and quickly and easily sold them his invention for a five figure sum which was very big money at the time.

And his invention?  It was that little silver "snib" fixed to the side of the tin that slides under the edge of the lid to effortlessly remove it without bruised fingers and curses.

That's the yarn as I heard it.  Up Sligo I say!