A CHRISTMAS CHILDHOOD by Patrick Kavanagh

Anthony Cronin, John Ryan, Patrick Kavanagh

 

 A Christmas Childhood
A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass-going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.
My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.
Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy’s hanging hill,
I looked and three whin bushes rode across
The horizon — the Three Wise Kings.
And old man passing said:
‘Can’t he make it talk –
The melodion.’ I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.
I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife’s big blade –
there was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.
My father played the melodion,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary’s blouse.

Patrick Kavanagh

GILMARTIN – a new play

My report on Sunday’s reading of Gilmartin at Pentameters:IMG_7398IMG_7395
The first thing to say is that there were quite a few surprises. The first was that we nearly had a full house for the occasion! It’s usually unheard of to get more than a handful to come to readings. The second was that the cast got a standing ovation at the end. The third was that a life-long friend of Gilmartin’s fetched up from Luton, and was so moved by the occasion that he almost broke down in tears at the q/a session afterwards. He did manage to issue an invitation to us to repeat the exercise in Luton, where he said we would have no problem getting a couple of hundred to come.  But the biggest surprise of all was that Tom’s  son and daughter turned up. They were very complimentary about the whole thing, particularly Tom Jr, who felt that we had got the essence of the story, and more importantly, the essence of his father. Phew…thank God for that!
As for the play itself, I thought it worked very well as a piece of theatre – much better than I expected. I wasn’t sure if the audience would get the story, being quite mixed, and story being so Irish, but they got it in spades! It seems to be a universal tale; corruption at high level, and contemptible treatment of the ordinary man/woman. The script still needs a little tweaking here and there, but not much, and I did get some useful insights to the man from Tom Jr – which I can add to the mix.
Where do we got from here? Not sure yet; we may go for a run at Pentameters later in the year or early next year, and we may well take up the invitation to do the gig in Luton, but there were also serious suggestions that we should do it in Dublin. The topic is still very hot in Ireland; and all the main protagonists are still walking around free as birds over there. They should be prosecuted but I don’t think the relevant authorities have any appetite for doing it. Apparently Bertie Ahern was on Irish radio yesterday being questioned about the bank scandal so none of it has gone away.
I think it could be a ‘big’ play if we could get the right backing, and my feeling is that a tour of Ireland, starting in Dublin, could be the way to go. It’s early days yet, so I think we will await developments for now.

PADRAIC COLUM – AN OLD WOMAN OF THE ROADS

Colum was born Patrick Collumb in a County Longford workhouse, where his father worked. He was the first of eight children born to Patrick and Susan Collumb.[1] When the father lost his job in 1889, he moved to the United States to participate in the Colorado gold rush. Padraic and his mother and siblings remained in Ireland. When the father returned in 1892, the family moved toGlasthule, near Dublin, where his father was employed as Assistant Manager at Sandycove and Glasthule railway station. His son attended the local national school.

When Susan Collumb died in 1897, the family was temporarily split up. Padraic (as he would be known) and one brother remained in Dublin, while their father and remaining children moved back to Longford. Colum finished school the following year and at the age of seventeen, he passed an exam for and was awarded a clerkship in the Irish Railway Clearing House. He stayed in this job until 1903.

During this period, Colum started to write and met a number of the leading Irish writers of the time, including W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and Æ. He also joined the Gaelic League and was a member of the first board of the Abbey Theatre. He became a regular user of the National Library of Ireland, where he met James Joyce and the two became lifelong friends. During the riots caused by the Abbey Theatre’s production of The Playboy of the Western World, Colum, with Arthur Griffith, was the leader of those inciting the protests, which, as he later remarked, cost him his friendship with Yeats.

An Old Woman of the Roads

O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods against the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!

To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!

I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!

I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!

Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there’s never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!

And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house – a house of my own
Out of the wind’s and the rain’s way.

THE GREAT HUNGER BY Patrick Kavanagh

extract from Patrick Kavanagh’s long poem THE GREAT HUNGER

O he loved his mother

Above all others

O he loved his ploughs

And he loved his cows

And his happiest dream

Was to clean his arse

With perennial grass

On the back of some summer stream:

To smoke his pipe

In a sheltered gripe

In the middle of July.

His face in a mist

His two stones in his fist

And an impotent worm on his thigh

But his passion became a plague

For he grew feeble bringing the vague

Women of his mind to lust-nearness,

Once a week at least flesh must make an

Appearance.

So Maguire got tired

Of the no-target gun fired

And returned to his headland of carrots and cabbage

To the fields once again

Where eunuchs can be men

And life is more lousy than savage.

The Great Hunger isn’t about the Famine.  It’s about  the hunger for, love, food, land, life…everything. But mostly it’s about the hunger for sex…  

SOME DUBLIN CHARACTERS

SOME DUBLIN CHARACTERS

Not necessarily born in Dublin but lived a significant part of their lives in the city.

THE BIRD FLANAGAN

BRENDAN BEHAN

PATRICK KAVANAGH

JIMMY O’DEA

MYLES NA gCOPALEEN

SEAN O’SULLIVAN

ENDYMION

JONATHAN SWIFT

DENIS GUINEY

SEAN O’CASEY

W B YEATS

JACK B YEATS

ALFIE BYRNE

THE TOUCHER BYRNE

MARGARET BURKE SHERIDAN

JACK DOYLE

JOE MCGRATH

etc  etc  

DAMN YOU ENGLAND

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One of the best books I have read on the theatre, and on the people who people it,
is John Osborne’s DAMN YOU ENGLAND. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
Surprisingly, he has plenty of time for Brendan Behan. Here he is on their first meeting;
“Brendan Behan lurched into my life early one Sunday New York morning. Pounding on my hotel
room door. ‘Is anyone in this fucking cathouse alive?’ he roared. ‘My name is Brendan Behan.
I don’t smoke, I don’t eat and I don’t fuck, but I drink. You can always tell the quality
of a country by two things;its whores and its bread. And neither of them are any fucking good here’.
Brendans life was a ballad, the wild outpouring of a pure, forgiving heart. Who is there in Ireland
or England to take up his matchless song now?