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Wed 17-Aug-2005 0:43
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Episode 12: Twice Around the Graveyard, with Father Fleming
Meantimes up in a Dublin hotel car park Gerry ‘The Obituary King’, dressed - as instructed - in a bright yellow Mack is awaiting the rendezvous with his source…
A car pulls up beside Gerry… the window is rolled down …Gerry waits for the password exchange..
‘Lady in red is dancing with me..’ says the voice from the car.
‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for, I can see it in your eyes’ whispers Gerry.
A big brown envelope is thrown out the car window and it speeds off. Gerry grabs the envelope, takes off the Mack and runs back to his car. He too drives off at speed and only when he closes the door of his Naas Road hotel bedroom does he open the envelope.
‘Sean Bhean is mise e anois Holdings Limited is an offshore company registered on the Blasket Islands. In 1980, on the initiative of the then Taoiseach, Charles J Haughey, The Blaskets were given offshore status for tax purposes. This was only in the knowledge of a very select few. The company directors listed are Edward Thomas and Thomas James. There is no listed address, the only clue being a post office account registered in Ballinamaor. If anyone asks where you got this information, say nothing and beware. I shall not be in contact again.’ Thus reads a cover note inside.
Training time has arrived and with the club’s grounds occupied by the travellers at present, Father Fleming has the large attendance up running around the graveyard. In and around the headstones, with ten press-ups for anyone who steps on a grave. After the bones of an hour – if you’ll excuse the pun - Father Fleming calls it a day and tells the players the news of the Round Robin and the delay in the county championship starting. The players retire and get changed in the church. Rio O’Rielly gets in awful trouble for trying to wash his face in the christening font.
Saturday morning arrives and a squad of twenty two is outside the Sportsmans Inn to greet Father Fleming as he arrives with the coach to take them all away for the weekend. One by one they pile on and unusually, all their food is confiscated by Father Fleming as they board.
The bus sets off and the usual banter and singing begins. Then Father Fleming calls for a decade of the Rosary..
‘The First Blessed Mystery, The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary…’
‘And she conceived of the Holy Ghost…’
After a while…
‘Father are we stopping for lunch or maybe for a drink?’
‘Not yet, later on maybe.’
‘Father where are we going?’
‘Where in Donegal?’
‘That sounds familiar…’, muses Anchor Murtagh
All of a sudden: ‘A Mudder’s love’s a blessing…’ blares from the speakers..
‘Ah Father there’s no need for that’
‘Boys don’t tell me you don’t like Bridie Gallagher’
‘Its Purgatory listening to that…’ exclaims Rio O’Rielly
‘I have other tapes, if you want?’
‘Like what, Father?’, asks Anchor Murtagh.
‘Michael English, Margo, Gloria, Charlie Landsborough and, of course, Daniel’.
‘I never thought I’ be saying this,’ says Anchor, Put on Daniel!’
A commotion ensues…
‘Any more of that and I’ll stop the bus and ye’ll all have to walk home!…’
Meanwhile Gerry is back home and is doing some investigation in The Sportsmans Inn…
‘Do the names Edward Thomas and Thomas James ring a bell at all?’
‘Can’t say they do’, Says Paddy Hennessey
‘Never heard of them around here anyhow’, chimes in Murty
‘Actually hold on, I knew those names rang a bell. James and Edward are the names of Thomas the tank engine’s two pals, if that’s any good to you’, laughs Tractor Tynan - to much guffaws around the bar.
‘What about the words ‘Sean Bhean is mise e anois’. Do they mean anything to you?’
‘They’re the opening lines of ‘Peig’’, says Murty Flanagan.
‘Oh it rings a bell now alright’, says Gerry.
‘Do you not remember Mick Doran’s (Smoothie solicitor businessman-type from Ballinamaor with a fondness for young widda’ wimmin).. young fella, poor divil. He was out playing and got a bang of a hurl the night before his Leaving Cert Irish. They say that ‘I’m an old woman now with one foot in the grave, and the other on the edge of it’ were his dying words in Cashel General Hospital’ recalls Paddy Hennessey.
‘That’s grand lads I’ve got to go’ says Gerry as he hotfoots it out the door.
A tired and weary crowd are the team as the bus passes through Pettigo and suddenly they hit the car park at the lakeside.
‘Boys that is Saint Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg. That’s where we’ll be spending the weekend. The ideal team building opportunity, United in suffering and united in prayer’, enthuses Father Fleming
‘Oh holy Jesus, it was too good to be true, wasn’t it?’ says a dejected Anchor…
The downcast bunch get on the boat and are brought to the island. The shoes come off and the prospect of fasting and deprivation of sleep hits home.
‘Jesus, If herself could see me now.’ says PJ Carroll.
‘We’ll be the laugh of The Sportsmans!’, comments ‘Farrah’ Farrell
‘Some dirty low down trick to play. Just look at those stones’, says PJ
‘Father’ says PJ
‘Look over there. Is that Susan McCann?’
‘It is, It is. Sometimes your dreams come true’
‘I know what you mean Father, I know what you mean!’ says Anchor
How will Lough Derg go?… Is there a link between Thomas The Tank Engine and Guthrie’s Field? … And yes they will get around to playing a match sometime?
‘We talk just like lions, but we sacrifice like lambs…’.
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