It is mid December , and the first slush of winter has fallen and muddied the streets.The venue was a small pub in lower Salthill. A small frugal hotel with a large open bar
room , and a cold stone floor. The fireplace is after the Gandon fashion .Bigger than function demanded . Grandiose for the Spartan surroundings . The chairs are
equally functional and unpretentiously wooden. It is midweek and the fire is unlit.
The proprietor , a retired Scotland Yard detective , looks skeptically out from the low hung counter at the muddied floor.
No ! he wasn’t going to put the fire down for this lot. He took his sense of frugality from the highlands .
The West Galway branch of Ceolteori Connacht have assembled for a night of Celtic Music Revival . The Yatesean model of the early centaury revived
Their enthusiasm is patriotic :their fervourunbridled.
The Muinteoir for the proceedings is a student of marine biology. His gift is neither in music nor nationalism ,nor indeed is his zeal quite for either quite so altruistic .
He sees in these gatherings , an opportunity where he might get an easy ride.
And what if you had to fork out 40 quid for a mandolin ; so what , he reasoned . He knew he would never have to play a solo , and thus he retained the unchallenged pretence of an alleged virtuosity.
There is a number of diverse musicians assembled ; pipes, ( both the uileann and the bag- both sworn bitter enemies ) ; guitars , mandolins , zithers, mandolas- and then there were the bodhran players.
The bodhran players numbered about two to each musician ; this was an unsafe balance and the muinteor had herded them as cows in a corral in one corner of the room - and this all but occupied over half of the available space.
He regarded them now with a kindly eye thinking how much they looked like a pack of beasts on a leash and foaming at the mouth.
He was , he thought looking into the true face of fundamentalism.
-‘ Great turn out lads . Fair play.. We do always need the bodhran man. Great turn our ‘
Jesszes , he thought - the true terrorists of Irish traditional music. He d smiled benignly at the unwieldy corral.
He scanned the room with a pained and dreaded eye, but composed himself .
- Well this is a great turn out entirely , what ! A great turn out- Fair play to ye.!
Well my name is Mick and I play the mandolin. I’m no maestrobut I can see a few gifted players here tonight .
He paused and looked at some formidable players ,who returned his look with a seething ridicule .
_Lookit lads tonight is all about re - re june -rejunivating the songs our fathers loved , as they say , the music of the aul hearht.. The family that plays together ,stays tog..
-Fuck up Pisso and get on with it.-
Raucous laughter .
-Right lads but can ye do it -that’s the challenge I put before ye tonight.?
He looks with skepticisms ,deep into his audience ; a challenge laid down.
- So I think the best way to start is at the beginning ; that is the e tusssachas they say , and whenever ye can lads would ye try an remember to owl teanga ; aimsear laithereach so.. Ana ways ..Ta se cho tabheachtacht sin go gcathigh me ag leabhart as bearle , am go h’am . An tuigeann sibh e sin ??. OK so OK !!. Air aigh linn so ; back to the Bearla so.. We ‘ll keep it bilingual where we have to lads, only when we have to.. Allright so-We’ll start with that lovely old air .. Whats it at all ; OH I know it well . Da da dada da.. Da da da dada!!…Da da da da daaaa.!…ana wan know it.. Dam an blast it .. Da da da .. Dada..
- Its ‘Faine geal an lae ‘- ye wanker !!
-Yes that’s the one ..thanks Jackie .!!. Good man Jackie ! Thanks .. Thanks Jackie - he’s the sweet player lads .. Anaways .. Ye all now it.!!
He looks worryingly at the platoon of bodhran players;
Lads in the tympany section ;- do ye know what I think..well I think ye could just play in twos for a start- then we’ll move on with two to one and so on like that , and then tree to wan .. And maybe later four at..
- ye mane we’re not musicians atall is it ? -one of the more ferocious bodhran players , asks - his eyebrows knotted in a warlike frown.
No No Notatall lads, !! sure yere the vera heartbate of the rigout - just to make it aisy fer tha other lads like ..
He manages to restore a semblance of order after a fashion . He empathised with the sign they had in those wild west bars ‘ don’t shoot the pianist- he’s doing the best he can.
-Sorry lads .. A bit of hush so, one singer one song are ye right..? We’ll try it in the key of C..
- Hey ! A member from that flautist section stands up.
- My pipes are tuned to B flat minor !!- he says with an attitude of defiance.
Mike considers this for a moment . An illuminating scheme comes to him of a sudden.
-All right lads , back to the starting post again as the say . Air ais linn gi dti an tosach so.. We’ll try it in B flat , lads.
- no good!!! - there is a chorus again from the flautists
- all out tin whistles are in the key of F
Mike considers this. Jeez the bloddy cheek of them.. The bloddy cheek.. couldn’t’t they but the full range and a tanner a whistle..and me mandolin - 40 quid how-are-ya!
But diplomacy served him well now, and in another flash of unsullied inspiration he says evenly-
- are there any more of ye lads, with the different keys like ,
There is a garbled response ..
-All right lads , all right !! So we have F E D G C .. is that it…
An elder man in country tweeds is seated at the Piano where he had been( sort of ) clawing the air for some time to no great effect , and for no evident purpose now addresses the group-
- Sorry lads, gentlemen , through the caththior - a mhuinteoir ..
Ahh good man Tom ! - Mike says welcoming the respite , and wondering what’s in the little kitty under the table , he slips an articulate hand into the bag . Hmm not bad .. Not bad.. He says.returning seamlessly to the urbane gentleman.
- yes Tom.. Carry on ..
- yis all know me . I ’m Nancy’s husband - Nancy the writher -the creative writher -and I’d like to suggest to yis..
-Fuck you.. You’re one of them SIQUE’s from the lit an deb !!
- A what !!! How dare ..you .. You little ..
- That hoor was above in the crane litherary PJ Carther school an she made a bollix of the whole school.!!!
- hear hear !- Now yere talkin !!
- I have only one thing to say to yis ye little git ..yis are out of order and yis are all out of tune..!
- that’s two things- fuck him out ..!!
- let him claw the fucken air above in the aula..!!
-Yis are a pile of uncultivated yobos.yis ..!!
-Cuineas lads a bit if cuineas , this is doin fuck all for Celtic revivalism..Lads ye have to go aisey .. Aisy lads ,.. We’ll be havin a short break nowand they’ll be raffle tickets available , for this beautiful prize , he points to a stuffed animal head atop of which is mounted a lead soldier ( WW2)
- the statue of Chu Culainn himself -isn’t she a beauty . God I’d love to win her - and a few bob thrown in as well, so give generously lads .. We’ll see ye after the break.
He neatly slips off three yellow tickets , pockets them and says;
- may the best man win lads , and retires to the leitheras.
He takes out the bottle of poteen , and takes a long swig ; his face contorts - but wait he assures himself - see what it’ll do for you.
- see what it does to you !!! he says , jubilantly as the fire take hold on his brain- and as he feels himself levitating.. - Transubstation..!! And he skips his merry way back to the rehearsal room.
Some minutes later he is back in front of a sectionalized audience. Two sides of the civil war are facing one another down as he resumes his seat .
- well now lads , the raffle tickets are all in - he looks and to his horror more that a score have been sold .
Fuckers , fuckers .. - his thoughts were unarticulated but thinks .. Fuckit- maybe .. No fuckit =but he smiles blandly.
There is a drunken woman swaying near his desk , her bagpipes drawing her down. She has drawn a ticket from a baineen cap.
- well Kitty .. Whats the news.. Who’se the lucky winner of this .. This.. Whereupon Kitty collapses on Chu Chulainn.
Mike takes the ticket from her as she sobers and tries to find the bellows on chu chulainn..Mike ignores this .
- And the winner is a yellow ticket.. Number 56 .
A rotund man with a beetroot face , puts aside his bag of chips and sausagesand waddles forward with the winning ticket.
-Good man !!Ledonard !! - no bettter man..!
He slips his hand beneath his desk and extracts a goodly fistful of notes, pockets them and continues.
- Now Leonard is see you’ve brought your thingamagig along .. Would you ever give us a blast before we present the prize, cuineas.. Lads for a second
There is an angry gust gathering in the pressure cooker atmosphere of the house , and the mutterings are fusing with bellicosity.
Taking advantage of the diversion , as he attempts to placate the foaming armieshe slips his hand deftly beneath the desk once more , grabs another few notes and coins, and pockets these .
Lads .. Lads in the name of Pearse and Connolly and Joyce
- who the fick was Joyce .. And Wilde.
- dem fuckere wasn’t in tha post office ..!!
- well any ways all the dead.. The Bauld Fenian .. and Sean South..and the Lad of Eighteen Summers … I appeal to yere sense of Nationalism lads…!!
At length a resentful silence descends once more.
- watch where he puts his thingamigig !!
More racous laughter ..
- What’d you say Leonard .will you give us a blast ?.. Ok so off you go in your own time
Leonard plucks a raucous note on the ukulele , and the chord that follows is more discordant and displeasing.
- lads we’ll do away with the chords for tonight and let ye play now in the old way;- doh, ray, me , so.. Fah -and so on..
-that should suit everyone .Away with you Leonard .. And a wan !and a two-!!! and a tree--!!!
- Irish Boys hurray !!
Irish boys hurray!!
We’ll toast old Ireland , dear old Ireland!!
Irish boys Hu..rrr aaye’!! - ending in the high falsetto D , which even trained tenors dread .
- out with fagots!!!
- another Quare SIQUE!!!
- Jeez - I’ll sthrangle that fat fool..
Whistles, flutes , bodhrans , pipes are hurdles at the pickwickian character waddling out the door in haste , as the Scotland Yard man , leaps the counter brandishing a shillelagh and his service pistol.
OOT!! OOT !! OOT !! Wi ye all.. Yer no one bi gud fer bisness !!
Ute !! Wi yall..Ayall shew ya somma scuttish nationimism..
He fires twice puncturing the bloated bladder of a set of pipes.
- jees ma pipes .
- Jeez ma bodhran - as the taught pigs skin shrivels to tatters.
As the melee accelerates , and we leave the evening of Celtic Musical Revivalism, we see a man stuffing the statue of Chu Chulainn into the boot of his little blue fiat. He has a sack over his shoulder which he throws into the back .
Propped against the passenger door is a drunken woman , bawling , sobbing. keening. She has lost her punctured pipes .
-Shh .. Shh. Kitty ..get in there ..
‘ Fair play to ya Mick - yer the only thrue pathriot..the onla pathriot .. !!’
He gets in and she slumps over on top of him..
He checks the dashboard for the packet of Durex..props her back up again.
- yer sound Kitty.. Sound .. Aisey now girl.. Thry an sit straight for a minute .. Good girl..!!
He drives out into the dark, in the spraying slush , to either side , with one headlight lighting up the night , assured that the night has not cost him acent ,and the other thing was in as good as in the bag.
Celtic Music Revivalism was well and thriving.
- Jazes Kitty ; would ya sit straight for a few minutes .. Good girl..
She is comatose .
- Good on ya Kitty ; yer always on for it girl..!!
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