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Weekend Messing About

Did I mention I was going away for the weekend?


Well that’s because as usual I was so disorganised I didn’t know it myself.

We all went out on the water on Saturday, down the the estuary, at the little County Limerick village of Glin. (A place with a surprisingly dark history, but I’ll go into that another time). It was the annual Glin yacht regatta, which basically consists of the same dozen-or-so crews taking out the same boats, sailing them down towards Kilrush and back, then going up to Glin Castle where the Knight of Glin makes a little speech and fills them full of canapés and free drink, after which they all head off to the pub to get properly sloshed and plan next year’s bash.

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Some went sailing, but the rest of us weren’t classy enough, so we just spent the day buzzing around in inflatables, trying to look relevant, but failing. Some time towards noon, we buzzed across to Labasheeda (Irish: Leaba Sioda — the bed of silk),  on the Clare side in the hope of finding a nice snug hostelry, but the tide wasn’t high enough for us to get in to the pier, so we bobbed around on the swell for a while looking the crowd of fools that we are, before skulking back out into the rolling estuary. Eventually, someone had a mini-brainwave, and we found ourselves tucked into John Conway’s fine pub on Glin’s main street, sucking delicious pints while the landlord laboured somewhere out at sea, ruthlessly lashing his press-ganged crew of ne’er-do-wells aboard the dreaded Golden Kopper.

Here’s a couple of shots of the old disused Glin pier, which I like for its desolation.

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Here they are coming back from the race. About now, I’m starting to get edgy. I want to get across to the Clare side to Kilkee, and I don’t intend visiting the Castle this year

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So I piss off, catch the Tarbert ferry and before you know it, I’m landing in Clare.

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Arriving eventually at Kilkee, where we all watch the Gaelic Football semi-final between Kerry and Dublin in Fitz’s pub.

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Later, in Scott’s, we watch Munster playing the USA in a World-Cup warm-up for the Americans (Hint: don’t bet on the USA).

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This accounts for my current raging hangover. Let me alone. I’m going to bed.

kick it on

Limerick Music Venues

Limerick Acoustic Guitar Festival

I wandered towards Bombay Mick’s this evening and bumped into Mr Darwin, a frequent contributor to this organ.

Mr Darwin engages, among other things, inter alia, and so forth, in playing the jazz guitar, and he’s involved in the Limerick Acoustic Guitar Festival, taking place for the next while or so. Check it out if you happen to be in the region.

Personally, I’m a bit baffled by playing of this complexity and erudition, but Mr Darwin has promised to explain as he goes along. I have promised in return, not to be too drunk when I turn up, and furthermore to try and remain relatively sober during the gig. I have also promised, though it won’t be easy, to refrain from my usual practice of hurling obscene comments at the performers.

This isn’t going to be easy.

God, at my age, you’d think they’d cut me a bit of slack, wouldn’t you?

kick it on

Favourites Images Limerick

The Living Bridge – University of Limerick

This is a section of the Shannon that flows through the University of Limerick campus:

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The University engaged the Eiffel company of France to build this footbridge which will wind its way between the little islands in the river:

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Work has been going on for quite a while now, and we’ve all been watching it develop with great interest, but recently, after what seemed like endless preparation, the deck sections arrived and were finally put in place.

I’m grateful to Squid for this time-lapse video showing the deck being assembled.

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Images Limerick

Limerick Photos

I thought it might be nice to bring you a few pictures of this old town.

I know that not everybody has broadband, and this post is probably quite unfriendly to dial-up people, so if that means you, I’m sorry.

Most of the pics are below the fold, to save your patience if you’re on a slow connection, and also to make sure you don’t hunt me down and kill me like the dog I am.

Anyway, here’s a flavour of Limerick for you.

Limerick Music Politics popular culture Venues

Bodies in bodybags

There’s a fine songwriter here in this town who’s been writing songs for a hundred years, and I’m glad to include him among my friends. Eamonn Hehir is his name, and he’s been producing stuff for years that pissed off the establishment.

But the latest one really seems to have hit a nerve.

Bodies in Bodybags just doesn’t cut it with Limerick 95 FM, it seems. Especially the version released by Siobhan O Brien. Too controversial, apparently, for Radio Smalltown. Why? Well, for one thing, they’re sending these soldiers out through our local airport and Limerick 95 FM wouldn’t want to upset the Americans. But apart from that, you can’t have songs about people getting killed. No. Definitely not. You can’t have these kind of songs. Oh God no. And particularly not if the people are getting killed because Dubya said so. Oh Jesus, no. You couldn’t have that on the radio.

Here’s a clip. Bodies in Bodybags

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The River Shannon at Plassey

I took a few pictures during the week. Full flood.



Everybody in Limerick knows Plassey. If you don’t go to the nearby University, you certainly went swimming there as a teenager. You walked along the river bank there, got stoned there or laid, if you were lucky or drunk enough. I once gashed my foot there on a sharp stone, while swimming with my friends, and had to walk the whole way to Barrington’s Hospital for stitches, stopping every hundred yards or so to empty blood from my boot, but even that memory, strangely, has transmuted into something I like to keep, because it’s part of growing up and bonding with people who still matter to me. Plassey is fishing, swimming, walking and sharing. I was very, very young indeed when my father carried me on the bar of his bike, but to me Plassey is also Micheal O hEither commentating on some match neither I nor my father gave a shit about, yet which we both recognised had some meaning beyond our narrow lives. It’s a beautiful place – peaceful, serene and part of what we are.

When I was a kid, Plassey House – now the administrative heart of the University of Limerick – was simply the Haunted House. A brooding, Aubrey de Vere edifice, filled with terrors, with monsters, certainly with ghosts, but in reality populated by people who had no other place to go.

Did you know that the original Plassey is a place in India? Or that Plassey House was built for the great Clive of India), and that he named the area after his victory at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, when he defeated the Nawab of Bengal through the astute use of bribery? I don’t think he lived in the house. I’m not even sure he ever saw it, but perhaps he did. I hope he did, because it’s a beautiful place.

It could easily be that Clive of India never saw Plassey House for one very good reason. It isn’t widely known that, not more than five miles upriver, there’s another great house, built at around the same time by Dave of India. He called it Plassey House. And to make matters worse, another Italianate villa, Plassey House, only two miles away, was built by Steve of India. Both Dave and Steve also claimed to have defeated the Nawab of Bengal, in a game of forty-five.

Some scholars, while acknowledging the fine work evident in the great Italianate villa, Plassey House, at Annacotty, built by Maeve of India, dispute her claim to victory over the Nawab, ascribing it instead to Viv of India, who never built a house at all.

One thing is certain though. Whoever won the battle, the Nawab of Bengal was nothing short of a bollocks who sold out for a handy few bob and a quiet life.


The Shannon at Plassey

Limerick Society

The People’s Park

I took some time to myself today and wandered through the People’s Park at lunchtime. It was a lovely day and it did me good to stroll around, absorbing the sublime beauty that is this little gem of a park. We, the people of Limerick, are so lucky to have it, and long may it continue in existence. I realise that the City Council have started giving bits of it away to property developers, in a manner entirely contrary to the spirit of what was intended when the park was first bequeathed to the citizens of Limerick, but let’s not be churlish. Let’s leave that there and not pursue the issue. Speaking as a born-and-bred Limerick man, I would never under any circumstances have agreed to selling part of the Park if I had been offered money for it, but that’s only because I was born and bred in Limerick, and I think some things are worth more than money. I’m sure others would disagree. For example, if I were an official from elsewhere in the country, with no connection to Limerick other than my job, I might well think that an offer of sizeable funds was attractive, even if it did involve disposing of part of the birthright of Limerick people. What’s the birthright of Limerick people, after all, compared to balancing the City Council’s books? I wonder if the current City Manager ever rolled down the hill at the Monument.

Anyhow, let’s leave that there. Simmering.

I was talking about the People’s Park, wasn’t I? A place redolent with memories from childhood and beyond. Ice-creams from the little hatch at the back of the kiosk. Bread-and-butter sandwiches in picnics. Football in the back field, and the old Parkie with the gammy leg waving his stick at you. Fuck off outa there. You can’t play football here. And the Healys kicking the shit out of you cos they thought they owned the Joseph Street entrance, and they did too cos they were a lot tougher than everyone else, but they’re ok behind it all, so sorry lads, I didn’t mean anything, ok, is that all right so? A bandstand where, once, real bands used to play. Real genuine bands in uniforms with oompahs and drum-dee-drums and people used to say ooh and aah and Jesus isn’t that fuckin great?

Not to mention the toilets. They’re gone now, because the world is full of fukken perverts, but in my younger days the park was a land of two toilets. The one near Reeves’s Path (now bafflingly known as Upper Mallow Street) was safe enough, but the one near Pery Square was populated entirely by child-murdering fukken perverts. Why? I think we should be told. It wasn’t too far from a whole load of conker-trees, which was a big problem because on the one hand, you wanted the conkers, but on the other hand, you didn’t want your arse reamed. A genuine dilemma for a young lad, let me tell you. Or perhaps not. Now that I think of it, a dilemma in the classic sense would be a choice between two equally unwelcome courses of action, which clearly this isn’t: get conkers versus get arse reamed. For most people, not a dilemma.

Wandering towards the main gate by the art gallery, I noticed a small commotion at the children’s playground. This is a fine facility, designed to the highest standards, and filled with children and their loving parents. I’m a parent myself, though my children are grown a little beyond this kind of thing, but I think it’s great. It is great. And it would have been great today too in the clear springtime sunshine but for what?
Good caring devoted parents, but what?
Gentle innocent little kids, but what?
Knackers, that’s what. Not tinkers. Knackers.
Only two of them, but enough to have the park attendant on the phone to the guards, to say that a mother and child had been threatened. I stopped, of course, in case he needed help, and sure enough, there they were, cursing and swearing at this poor woman, and at the park attendant. A young boy and a slightly older girl. The boy was shouting I’ll fukken get ya and the girl was shouting We’ll get Mama to sort you out you fucker. The boy was about seven, and the girl was a bit older. Maybe ten. I caught the Park man’s eye, and he said “This isn’t just today. This is every day!”

Now. I have no doubt in the world that those kids came from a fucked-up family, and probably a fucked-up neighbourhood. I feel terribly sorry for them because they don’t see normal human interaction in their daily lives. Ever. They see only anger and incompetence and an inability to deal with the smallest setback with anything except aggression. They probably come from a dysfunctional family, which is a term I detest. What does the word dysfunctional mean? I think this is one of the sucking words, designed to drain all meaning from the language. Words that make our speech dry and arid and academic in the worst mediocre sense. As far as I can make out, dysfunctional is a euphemism for useless bastard unfit to have children. I understand that, and the services should move in to protect the at-risk children.

But in the meantime, while those childrens’ difficulties are being addressed by the services, why should the problems of one family, or one neighbourhood, be allowed to take this beautiful day away from the ordinary children of our town – the ones from functional families?