JACK: Bertie Ahern? He was some tulip!
JOHN: Yeah, a tulip, but a rich tulip, digs outs, racehorses, plasters, all and sundry contributing to
the good ship Bertie, and for nothing in return…nothing in return my arse.
JACK: He set the ship of state on course for the Iceberg, and no one could deter him from that
And when the Iceberg came into view, he jumped ship and handed the controls to Brian Cowen, and
the eejit that he was, he took control and the blame for the wreckage, while Bertie sailed away on a
lifeboat to count his money in a cupboard.
JOHN: Even Captain Smith, the Captain of the Titanic stayed with his ship.
JACK: Bertie was no Captain Smith, more of an Ishmail, and now leaders of other countries are
paying Bertie big money to show them the shortest course to the Iceberg. When he hid in that
cupboard, he should have stayed in it.
JOHN: It is indeed a strange world Jack.
MICK: What about his contribution to the peace process?
JOHN: I don’t want to go there.
JACK: It stopped the slaughter, but destroyed the political landscape in the North, moderates on all
sides of the political spectrum cast aside to placate and put two extremes in control, and not an inch
of progress since, no consideration for the North, only for their own existence, that’s the legacy of
Bertie and Blair.
JOHN: The big difference between the Sunningdale agreement and the Good Friday one… is the
fact that Adam’s party and Paisley’s party weren’t the head honchos back then, they said no to
everything until they became the two main parties. And then said, yes please
JACK: What were we talking about before? Oh yeah, the GAA ban on playing soccer
MICK: I don’t think the ban was taking seriously by some clubs.
JOHN: Well it was taken seriously here, even when the ban was lifted. We had a soccer team here
in the seventies, and they organised an Easter raffle for a lamb. They asked the GAA could they
make the draw in their little hall in the street, and what do you think the answer was? It was a big fat
no… And some of the GAA players playing with the soccer team.14
JACK: ‘Twas even worse down our way. We came out to find our goalposts chopped into pieces in
the centre circle one Sunday morning. The local GAA club of course.
JOHN: Local? Where was this?
JACK: Up Limerick way. Kildimo.
JOHN: So you’re from stab city eh? I often wondered.
JACK: And now you know! The city of knackers and piebald ponies. I often thought I’d see John
Wayne ridin’ down O’Connell Street of a Sunday morning there were so many fellas on horseback
out and about.
MICK: (imitating John Wayne) Get off ye’r horse and drink yer milk
Maggie goes to the table to pick up empty glasses
MAGGIE: For feck sake, cut out the politics and religion. I thought ye were here to do some
reading and sing a few songs.
MICK: We are going to do that Maggie, but you can’t have a pub without a row about religion and
politics, it’s in our DNA.
JOHN: Now, now Maggie, don’t get your know what in a twist, I’m going to read a poem now, and
then Jack here is going to read a poem or two, or maybe a piece from his book, “Cricklewood
Cowboys” or maybe a piece from one of his plays, and then Mick will sing another song.
I was thinking how the world has changed since our time Jack, in our day if a woman left a man, it
was for another man, or if a man left a woman it was for another man, but now… now a man might
run of with the husband next door, or a woman with the wife next door, so with those thoughts in
mind I wrote this poem, it’s called She Walked Away
MICK: It is a different world John, gay rights, homosexual, heterosexual, lesbians…
MAGGIE: And a good few has-beens like John there.
JOHN: Ah now Maggie, given the chance I’d still rise to the occasion, anyway listen to this, She
She was so beautiful, but unavailable to me, she was my world, my land and the sea.
My rivers and valleys and all that is good, and the way that I loved her, no other man could.
To be with her forever was all that I wanted, by her beauty and memory I am still haunted.
When I told her I loved her, she said “that cannot be, I can’t love a man, it’s a woman for me.
We are friends, and friends we can stay, but my love’s for another, and she then walked away.
Walking away to become another woman’s wife, and walking beside her, was the rest of my life.15
Many years have gone by, and I love her still, and I know in my heart that I always will.
She loves another, and I understand, for love is spontaneous, it cannot be planned.
Love is sudden, like a bold from the blue, and when it strikes there’s not much you can do.
And a one way love is so hard to bear, and try as you might, you can’t make them care.
I’m happy for her if her love is like mine, and the woman she loves is hers for all time.
Time has moved on, I’ve loved no other, when my bones turn to dust, that dust will love her
MAGGIE: I always knew it John behind that growl there’s a soft purr.
Maggie takes out her phone
MAGGIE: Here, let me take a selfie with you, I’ll frame it and hang it behind the bar and call it,
The beauty and the beast
JOHN: Ah now Maggie, you’re not that bad looking
JACK: Two elderly ladies sitting on a park bench watching a young couple taking a selfie, one old
lady says, Bridget what’s a selfie? Bridget answers, well when I had a headache, that’s what my
Henry used to do.
JOHN: Now Jack, what are you going to read?
JACK: That’s aisy, John. This is an extract from my play… BRENDAN BEHAN STANDS UP
(sings) Oh a hungry feelin’ came oe’r me stealin’
And the mice were squealin’ in my prison cell
And the auld triangle went jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal
That’s from The Quare Fella. Do yous know who he was- The Quare Fella? Bernard Canavan
was his name. He was in Mount joy jail waiting to be strung up by Pierrepoint for chopping
his brother up into little pieces and feeding him to the pigs. Not a very brotherly thing to do
was it. Mind you, he was a culchie. Still, I shouldn’t complain – it kept me in ‘stamps’ for a
I love New York. New York is my Lourdes, where I go for spiritual refreshment, a place
where you’re least likely to be bitten by a wild goat And New York likes Irish people. Not
like England. But to be fair to the English, they only dislike some Irish – the same Irish that
the Irish themselves dislike, Irish writers. Well, the ones like meself anyway – the ones that
think (more drink) Well, fuck the begrudgers, that’s what I say…16
Do yous know one British critic asked me? “Mr Behan, what message is in
Your writing? Message”, says I. “What the hell do you think I am? A bloody postman!”
Although saying that, Spain takes the biscuit. The only time I ever visited that kip
I was mobbed by a pack of hyenas – well, reporters.
Anyway, one of them asked me what I would most like to see on my visit. Franco’s
funeral, says I. Well, before you could say Hiel Hitler, the Fascist bastards threw me
In goal. And then threw me out’a the country
(takes a swig) I saw a sign the other day which said ‘Drink Canada Dry’. I’m off there next
week to see if I can manage it.
Ah the Irish God help the Irish, if ‘twas raining soup they’d be out there with knives and
O’Casey once said it was a great place to get a letter from – Ireland I mean. Not if it’s from
the fucken taxman!
Dublin is a jealous city. Not a bit like New York. Back there it’s hard to find a writer to
admit that a fellow writer can put two words together. Becket was right when he said he’d
rather France at war than Ireland at peace any day of the week.
There! Can yous hear Patrick Kavanagh? The Monahan wanker himself! I was goin’ up in
the world till I met him. – After that it was downhill all the way.
I told Kavanagh he was The Last Ploughboy of The Western World. I mean…you should see
the state of him. Like a bloody orangutang. Spittin’ and gobbin’ his way through Dublin.
And whinging. Bejasus, if ever there’s a begrudgery Olympics in Dublin he’d clear the board
in every event.
Twenty years on he’s still sittin’ in the corner of McDaids, or wherever, telling people to
either buy him a pint or fuck off. You know the greatest thing he ever wrote? A bloody
cheque that didn’t bounce
. (sings) On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I would one day rue
That’s a song Kavanagh wrote about Hilda Moriarty. The ‘love’of his life. Or so he believed.
I bet he never even threaded her…But let me tell you sumthin’ for nothin’ – there’s plenty
I had the pleasure of Hilda’s company last year. Down in Limerick, the capital of
culchieland. I think it was the monsoon season down there…Anyway, there I was, drying
meself off in the bar of Dooley’s Hotel, when over she comes. The belle of every ball in
I heard Paddy followed you to Dingle for the Christmas last year, I said to her, and you never
even gave him a turkey sandwich.
He wasn’t invited, she said.
I thought you were his mot, says I.
I was never his…mot, as you so elegantly put it, she replied.
Well, you live and learn. Anyway, what she wanted was for me to lay off Paddy. He hasn’t
been well lately, she said
Sure, he hasn’t been well all his life! He’s a fucken head case. And besides, he can fight his
own battles. Kavanagh’s a culchie. And I hate all culchies.
Then she accused me of throwing him into the Royal canal.
Not guilty, your honor.
But someone did throw him in.
Oh, they did that. Bejasus they did! Head-first!
You want suspects? How about half of Dublin.
No, I didn’t throw him in – but I’ll tell you wha – I’d like to get hold of the bollix that pulled
(sings)Oh the wind that blows across the fields from Mucker
Brings a perfume that the city does not know
And the culchie in McDaids that’s drinking porter
Spakes a language that we townies do not know
Anyway, Kavanagh wasn’t good enough for Hilda. A doctor’s daughter, studying
Medicine at UCD, and he a small farmer studying droppings on a dunghill. How
could she take that yoke to mama and papa? He had a face like a horse. Not that she
Was short of other suiters. A little while later she married Donncha O’Malley. Thanks
be to jaysus she had some bit of sense anyway. Mind you, he was another culchie…
Oh stony grey soil of Monaghan. 18
The laugh from my loved you thieved.
You took the gay child of my passion
And gave me your clod-conceived
If he loved his stony grey soil so much why didn’t he fucken stay there. And save us all a
JOHN: I think Kavanagh was a better writer than Behan, well a better poet anyway, Raglan
Road, a Christmas Carol, Oh Stony Grey Soil, The Great Hunger, all fantastic poems.
Kavanagh was a wordsmith, and Behan, a brawlin’ bowsies, was jealous of him, I know
Kavanagh was cantankerous and bummed drink off his friends, but he was a great poet.
MICK: No doubt Behan was jealous of Kavanagh; Jack just said it in his play, what was it
you said Jack?
JACK: Dublin is a jealous City; it’s hard to find a writer to admit that a fellow writer could
put two words together.
MICK: I suppose that’s true some writers would rather heap praise on a dogs shit on the road
than praise a fellow writer, so we can also say Kavanagh was jealous of Behan, but I’ll say
one thing, Jack is bringing Behan’s brawling, bruising vulgarity, and his innocence to life in
that play, continue Jack.
On the eighteenth day of November
Outside the town of Macroom
The Tans in the big Crossley tender
Were driving along to their doom
But the boys of the brigade were waiting
With hand grenades primed on the spot
And The Irish Republican Army
Made shite of the whole fucken’ lot
Aren’t the Brits wonderful itself? First they put me in jail and then they made me a rich man
I done me porridge in England. And what for? I didn’t get very far in Liverpool, did I? All I
was going to do was stick a few Peggy’s Legs down the funnel of a battleship in the docks 19
and pretend it was Guy Fawkes Night. The peelers nabbed me before I even left me room.
Three years Borstal. I went in a boy and came out a man. And an atheist to boot.
They said that the ruination of my country has been caused by our over-fondness for drink.
As a nation, I mean. I can think of many things that caused the ruination of our country – and
they had fuck-all to do with the gargle. Cromwell, The Penal Laws, Partition, to name but a
‘To Hell or to Connaught’. That was Cromwell’s advice to all Irish Catholics.
”Under penalty of death, no Irish man, woman, or child, is
to let himself, herself, itself be found east of the River Shannon after May 1
Ah yes, a very civilized nation the English were back then. Not that they had improved much
by 1916 – or 1946
Any country that can send a gunboat up the Liffey, to defeat six hundred men, when she
already has thirty thousand soldiers pounding the bejaysus out’a them, can’t call it cricket.
With a few more guns ourselves we’d have riveted a lot more of their brave boys to the
railings around O’Connell Street.
Did I not tell yous I was in the IRA? The Dublin Brigade. The elite of the Irish Republican
Army. We might not have fancy guns and uniforms, but Bejasus we wiped the smiles off a lot
of faces with what we did have. The ould conjurer’s trick of potash, chloride and sulphuric
acid worked wonders…
Then I had that bit of bother in Glasnevin and I lost touch for with real life for another few
years. It was my jailing for the attempted murder of a Special Branch man in Glasnevin
cemetery during the Easter Rising commemoration service.
I did fire a couple of shots at the Special Branchers, but jaysus, they were firin’ at me! I went
on the run, but me own side weren’t too happy. I’d taken the gun with me you see – IRA
property – and I heard that they sentenced me to death in me absence. I sent them a nice
letter asking them could they carry out the sentence in me absence too!
Ah, it all blew over eventually.
(sings) All round my hat I will wear a three-colour-ribbon-oh
All round my hat till death comes to me.
And if anyone asks me why I do wear it
I will say for my true love whom I ne’er more shall see.
An’ as for the oul’ religion. My ould fella wouldn’t be seen dead inside a church. But he’d
call us every Sunday morning; ‘Go out and meet your God you lazy pack of hounds’ 20
Once a priest called to get up a collection for the Fascists in Spain – and we starvin’ with the
cold and hunger ourselves. Da fucked him off and the priest told him we’d burn in hell for
eternity. ‘At least we’ll be fucking warm’, Da shouted.
All that talk about damnation. We were damned all right – like all the poor in this country.
Damned with hunger.
Prayer and masturbation. The Catholic Church’s answer to promiscuity. Well, they’re fifty
percent right. Sex and religion, that’s what has Ireland banjaxed, not enough of the first and
too much of the other or is it the other way round? Ma, now, she had no interest in sex. All
she did was lie back and count the pawn tickets.
During my Borstal Boy days the prison chaplain wouldn’t let me attend Mass if I didn’t
renounce the IRA. I told him to fuck off. Wasn’t I in good company? Weren’t the rebels in
’98 excommunicated, wasn’t De Valera and ten thousand others ex-communicated in 1922 –
me own father included?
The Bishops of Ireland would ex-communicate their own mothers, given the chance – the
poxy fucken’ druids.
(sings)Never throw stones at your mother
You’ll be sorry when she’s dead
Never throw stones at your mother
Throw bricks at your father instead…
(Takes a swig from his bottle) Up the Republic! Up…my arse. D’you know something? I
have no politics. I make them up as I go along. Communism, Socialism, and Rheumatism –
they’re all the fucking same… (Swigs again) Up Dev!
Ah yes, De Valera, the fucken Spaniard. I spent four years in the Curragh at his pleasure.
The scrawny bastard. It was because of him we were neutral in the war. Where England
is concerned, Ireland can never be neutral. You’re either for them or against them.
Dev should have contacted his friend Mr Hitler and asked to borrow a couple of his
Doodlebugs. Then a couple of us could have dropped them on the House Of Commons
under the cover of darkness and blown the shaggin lot to kingdom come.
They say De Valera fought against the English. But he fought against his own people too.
Should we praise him for that? Brother against brother, father against son. Ireland lost some
of her finest sons in that little disagreement.
(sings)‘Twas on an August morning, all in the morning hours21
I went to take the morning air all in the month of flowers
And there I saw a maiden and heard her mournful cry
‘Oh, what will mend my broken heart, I’ve lost my laughing boy’.
Now Michael Collins. He was the flower of the flock. No doubt about that. Do you know
what, instead of executing Pierce, Connolly and the rest of them they should have charged
them with disturbing the peace and given them seven days, and that would have been the end
of the republican movement…
MICK: That’s mighty stuff Jack
to be continued…