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The West of Ireland

The West of Ireland exploration continues.

Now we’ve moved from the land of limestone to the land of granite, a place fashioned and sculpted by ice and fire.

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NAMA Stories

The Translator

A few years ago – a good few years, now that I think of it – Wrinkly Paddy and myself wrote a heap of children’s stories. Fairy tales, so to speak, for our children. It was great. We had great fun heading off to the pub, getting drunk and thinking up new stories to frighten delight the little ones.

I thought it was great to tell really young kids about the Bad Tooth Fairy, who comes to your bedroom at night, takes all your money and leaves teeth. I also loved telling them how Santa laughs: Nyaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!!!

No, says Paddy. We’ll have to do proper fairy tales, with knights and castles and beautiful maidens.

We will? I said. No Nyaaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa?

Certainly not says Paddy. We’ll have traditional fairy tales, but they’ll address contemporary themes. And another thing: we’ll keep the hard words. Let’s not patronise the kids.

OK, I said. But the adults won’t be able to understand them.

Fuck the adults!, Paddy barked. And that’s how we came to write a book of fairy tales, which, as I said, we did, and got hammered many a night in the pub as a result.

After a while, we began to wonder if maybe we could get them published, but the problem is that we’re both too lazy and incompetent for all that hard work, until one day I had a brilliant idea. Do you know what we’ll do? I said.

No, says Paddy. I don’t. What will we do?

We’ll get them translated into Irish. That way, it will be culture and heritage. We’ll get a huge government grant that we can spend on cocaine and Latvian hookers. We’ll be national heroes and they’ll build a statue to us, like they did for Paddy Kavanagh.

They built a bench for Paddy Kavanagh.

Well, whatever, I replied. Who can we get to translate them?

It has to be authentic, says Paddy. It has to be the real thing. It has to be almost completely incomprehensible.

You’re right, I agreed. Maybe the Rockhopper could do it.

No, says Paddy. He’d be too drunk most of the time. We’d never get it finished.

I’ll call him, I suggested.

Ring. Ring.

Rockhopper ag caint. Bhuel, a mhaicín. Cé chaoi a bhfuil tú?

Oh shut up and stop talking that fucking gibberish. Listen, we have a paying job for you.

Jobín, an ea? Agus, gan amhras, roinnt mór airgid freisin, b’fhéidir?

A bit of money. And a Latvian hooker for half an hour.

Ceart go leor, gan dabhat!!

So I went on to explain the job but it was obvious from the loud snoring that Rockhopper had fallen back into an alcohol-induced coma characteristic of the islandmen at this time of day: the hours between sunrise and sunset.

Fuck it. I phoned his brother, the Old Grey Fella.

Ring Ring

An duine liath aosta ag caint.

Listen do you want money or not?

I sure do. Phwhat you want?

I want you to translate a book of fairy tales into Irish for me. I’ll pay you with ten minutes of Latvian hookers and the price of a morning’s shite-talk leaning against a wall. I’ll pay your going rate for that.

Normally I’d jump at it, he said, but I have to demolish a light-house and then I have to drag fourteen thousand tons of seaweed up the beach to the traditional Aran seaweed anti-impotence medicine factory (Teo). Why don’t you try Micilín Paidí­ Aindí­?

Who’s he? I said.

He’s an old fella over there in Conamara. Always drinks in Tí Johnny Sheáin, out there at Indreabhán. You know, near the TG4 studios?

Oh yeah, I said. And you think he’d do it?

Oh, he would. The only thing is, he’s a bit elderly now. He’s well into his eighties, you know, and he’s a bit slower than he used to be. And one other thing.


He might think your stories are shite and tell you to fuck off. But I’ll ask him anyway.

That was how Wrinkly Paddy and I found ourselves in Tí Johnny Sheáin. It was early. We’d get this finished, hand over the manuscript, head on to Ros a’Mhí­l and grab the ferry to Inis Mór for yet another weekend on the piss with the Rockhopper.

Hello, said the bar-person.

Dhá phionta, I said. Le do thoil.

Ceart go leor, he said. Are you visiting?

Well, actually, I said, we were hoping to bump into someone.

He looked up from the taps, the way bar-people the world over do, and studied us. Maybe I could help?

Well, the man’s name is Micilín Paidí­ Aindí­, and we made an arrangement to meet him here.

The barman stiffened at the name. Micilín Paidí­ Aindí­?

We nodded.

You won’t find him here. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next week.

We glanced at each other, aghast.

You mean he’s . . .?

The barman handed over our two creamy pints. It was very sudden, he said. Nobody expected it. There was no warning.

Oh, that’s good at least, I said. He didn’t . . ?

No, said the barman. It came out of the blue. One minute, Micilín Paidí­ Aindí­ was standing there where you are, leaning on his old walking stick. The next minute he was gone.

Dead! gasped Paddy and myself together.

Not dead,
said the bar-man. Off to the World Surfing Championships. He’ll be back the week after next.