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[In which the narrator begins an archaelogical discussion of the events around ancient Dublin, introducing a notions of two parents so ancient they are interred into the landscape and a timeless cycle of historical events involving the successive rise and fall of familes. The builder of Dublin, Finnegan, has fallen from his tall building and is stopped from rising again because there is another man in his place, someone who travelled to Ireland from the Middle East.]
…and so through recirculation the river has brought us through history, past Adam and Eve’s pub, back to Howth Castle outside Dublin.
Before we can discuss his children - before the story of Tristan and Isolde, or the movement of the Irish population into foreign countries, or the conversion of the Irish to Catholicism by Patrick, or the overthrow of Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker by the Cad - although that would happen very soon after - or the love match of the children Issy and the twins Shem and Shaun – or before the Shaun and Shem began brewing their father’s malt and the rainbow of peace hung over the flood – let us talk of the father.
Before all this could happen, there was the fall of the father, the story of which has been handed down throughout Christian history. The great fall from the wall was the fall of a man called Finnegan, and he is now interred into the Dublin landscape – with his head at Howth and his toes protruding in Phoenix Park where invaders have been buried upon the green ever since the Irish first loved the Liffey.
What wars there have been. Tribe against tribe in chance medleys, with castle defences razed. Protestants were seduced by Catholics, young maidens by young men, and fathers deceived by sons. O hear how the father of fornicators lies sprawled in the dust, but how his fame is so far spread that the heavens themselves are his advertisement. But even as the trees of old lie buried – a flame will rise from their peat, like a phoenix from ashes. Fall if you will, but rise again you must – and it will not be soon that this force of renewal comes to a final, secular finish.
Finnegan, a stutterer, lived in the open, before writing, before laws or numbers, but over the years he built building-upon-building beside the Liffey. He had a wife Anna Liffey, who he loved, and he enjoyed a drink. Wearing his overalls, and inspired by alcohol, he calculated how to build a skyscraper of a wall…
… as high as the sky or a mountain, with a burning bush on top and with workers climbing up and down it.
He was among the first to bare arms and had family crest showing a billy goat and archers. But this husband with his tool – Finn – was about to become Finnegan. He was about to fall.
How can we tell what brought about his fall? On the one hand, the reverberations of his fall can be detected within our culture, and on the other, there has been a succession of writers blackening his reputation over the ages. Stay with us, therefore, our sustainer Finnegan, in our search for righteousness, when we wake in the morning, and eat, when we go to bed and in the night until the stars fade. For any signal from you would be a great help. Otherwise we’ll sway in our answer, between the devil and the deep blue sea. His wife can tell us much too and she occasionally answers - Listen! Listen! - It may have been a unfired brick that caused his fall, as some say, or his back collapsed, as others think. (There are now 1001 stories all of the same event.) Or, so sour were the apples Eve gave him (and take into account how many demands were made of him on the wall project) …
… that one morning he felt drunk. He felt heavy and his head shook at seeing how high he was on the wall. Then he staggered from the ladder and was dead. It was time to bury him before all the world.
Did I shut his eyes? I should say. Finn MacCool why did you die? On a thirsty Thursday morning. They sobbed and sighed at Finnegan’s Christmas wake, all of the nation were prostrated and ululating in grief. There was lots of food and lots of different tribes, and they all joined in with the utmost joviality. There was round after round of grog – with toasts like ‘to the continuation of the celebration until our final extermination!’ Some were singing, some were dancing. He was a decent, happy and hard working youth. Get a pillow for his head and top up his beer, carve his grave stone and let’s tap down the lid of his bier. Where in the world would you hear such a din again? They laid him on a bed with a bottle of whisky at his feet and a barrel of Guinness at his head.
Hurrah, only young love now is important, until the old world wheels back into view again – which is just the same thing recycled. He looked, on account of his bulk, like an overgrown baby; let’s peep at him, now flat as a platter. From Chapelizod to Bailywick, from Ashton to the top of Howth, or from the Liffey to the sea past the heads of the bay, and from the foot of the hill to the Ireland’s Eye – he lies there interred in the earth. The winds mourn his demise.
He lies bound in rock and all night the sounds of his wife the Liffey keep him awake. Her, with all their daughters and sons surrounding her in their inns and houses - they tell the tale of dear dirty Dublin. You hear them saying grace before eating and taking from the basket of bread. Our grandfather may have fallen, but granny still feeds us. He is our food – he is the fish on the platter – his head is like a loaf of bread and he is also Daniel O’Connell’s famous Dublin ale. But as you would eat his foodstuff and sink your teeth into his flour-white body – behold he is nowhere. His presence is like a faded photograph of an ancient scene. He has melted from the world, to be stored and packed away.
Yet we still see his outline, sleeping by the trout-filled Liffey. ‘Here sleeps the magistrate and his little free girl’ says the Latin inscription. And what does it matter if she’s only wearing rags – we all love Annie ‘Rainy’ Liffey as she goes running by. The old grumbler sleeps, laid out from the head of Howth to Chapelizod. His craggy head appears in the mist, while his feet of clay are covered in grass, sticking up where he fell on them, by the mound of the Magazine Wall. That is where the two girls saw him exposed, while his ambushers were at the rear of the fort, lying in wait. And when the clouds clear we get a good view…
…of the mountain mass and the Wellington Monument national museum, and in the distance near the Liffey we can see two village girls in white giggling in the foliage. Soldiers are admitted free into the museum. The Welsh and Irish must pay one shilling. Invalid war veterans have a wheelchair to sit in. For the pass key to the museum, we must apply to the janitrix, Mistress Kate.
This way to the museum. Mind your hats going in – now we’re in the Wellington museum. This is a precious Prussian gun, this one French. This is the flag of the Prussians, and here is a cup and saucer. Here is the bullet that ripped the Prussian flag, and here are the French that fired the ball that ripped the flag. You can imagine the salvos from the crossfire into these with their pikes and pitchforks. This is the three pointed hat of the three Lipoleums. This is Willingdone on his great white charger, Copenhagen. There are the three Lipoleum boys crouching down in the living death of the trenches. Here are the English and Scotch. You can see the Lipoleums arguing: Touchole Fitz Tuomush, Dirty MacDyke and Hairy O’Hurry. The hills about here are like the women at the battle: Mont Tivel, Mont Tipsey, and their mother Grand Mons Injun. This is the crinoline of the Jinnies [the women) hoping to shelter the Lipoleums. Here are the Jinnies pretending to read astrology and strategy, but undermining Willingdone. One dove soft girl is gesturing with her hand, while the raven-haired one is touching her hair. The Wellington monument is like Willingdone’s sword, that he plunged at their flanks as though another Excalibur.
This is his Belchum, sneaking the Jinnies away from the most awful Willingdon. This is the dispatch letter of the Jinnies to irritate Willingdone. "Dear Arthur, we conquer, how’s your little wife? Yours faithfully, Napoleon". This was a tactic of the Jinnies to annoy Willingdone. The Jinnies’ letter is causing jealousy in their courting of the Lipoleums, and the Lipoleums have gone crazy about Willingdone. Willingdone has the band playing music. This is Belchum breaking his sacred word and giving advice to Willingdone. This is Willingdone’s hurried dispatch back to the Lipoleum’s: "You letter was despoiled on regions to the rear of Belchum. Salamander! Dear Jinnies, fuck you. It is of no consequence. Yours, Willingdone." That was the first joke by Willingdone – tit for tat. This is Belchum in his twelve mile boots retreating for the camp of the Jinnies. He’d rather drink a guinness than store stale stout. Here are Russian balls. This is a trench and here are missile troops. This is the priest with the pope-like nose after his 100 days of indulgence. And here is his white horse. Here are the Jinnies in white blouses, and her are the Lipoleum’s in rowdy horses. Here is the Willingdone – by the splinters of Cork – order Fire! The shot thunders and it’s a bulls eye. Here is cavalry and there is a flood. Here is the sulphur workers in action, here is their mobilisation, here is their panic and burns. Almighty God! Arthur is loose! This is Willingdone’s rumble: Brum! Brum! Cumbrum! This is the Jinnies cry: Underwater! Gott strafe England! This is the Jinnies running to a bunker. This is Belchum’s silver plate for catching the crepes – which he gave to Jinnies for pay and which they left behind. This is Willingdone brandishing his sword for his diversion on the runaway Jinnies.
The smallest of Lipoleums, Toffeethief, spies upon Willingdone as he sits upon his big white horse, Copenhagen. Willingdon is a mankey old monument. The Lipoleums are well hung bachelors. This is the Hinnessy who is laughing aloud at Willingdone, and this is Dooley, fighting the fear in the Hinnessy. This is the Hinndoo Shimar Shin between Dooley Boy and Hinnessy. Willingdone picks up half of the three-foiled hat from out of the bloody mire, and the Hinndoo becomes furious and wants a bomb. Willingdone hanks the half hat up under the tail of his big white horse. That was the last joke of Willingdone’s. Copenhagen, the horse, waggled the crup, with half the hat of Lipoleums to add insult to the Hinndoo seepoy. The Hindoo jumped up and run up to Willingdone with a bomb, shouting: ‘Ah bugger you, I’ll bugger you up!’ Willingdone, a born gentleman offers him a match, saying ‘Bugger you instead!’ The Hindoo blew the half hat of the Lipoleums off the tail of his big white horse. Bullseye! How Copenhagen ended. This way out of the museum, and mind your boots going out.
What a warm time we had in there, but how cooling is the air out here. We know where the janitrix lives, but you mustn’t tell anyone. It’s a candlelit house of 29 windows, and numbered 29. Such reasonable weather we’re having too! The wind is a-waltzing around and on every knoll or rock there’s an early bird gathering food for it’s chicks. A veritable land of blackbird fields! In one field, under his shield lies Lumproar, his sword beside him. Shot and unhorsed. Our pigeon pair, the runaway Jinnies have made off to the north.
The three crows, the Lipoleums, headed south, crowing about the debacle to headquarters, saying: ‘Well, it is well, and since his fall Anna never comes out when there’s thunder or rain or there’s a gale. No, never on your life! She would be far too afraid. Of ghouls like Burymeleg and Bindmerollingeyes and all the dead in the world. She just hopes that bygones will be bygones.’ Here she comes now, a peace bird, a bird of paradise, a fairy godmother, gathering here and there with a bag upon her back that shines like a rainbow. ‘But it’s armistice tonight’, she tells us ‘and tomorrow we will wish a Merry Christmas to the munitions workers and there’s going to be a huge victory feast for everyone. Come near to me and sing on this day that we celebrate.’ She’s borrowed the coacher’s headlight to the better to see, and she fossils out all sorts of things to put into her napsack: bones, maps, keys, halfpennies, moonstone brooches with bloodstained breeches and a Boston nightletter from Massachusetts saying something about, ‘Father Michael (Almighty), a lovely parcel of cakes, and how is you m’dears and Mick, Nick and the Maggies, boys and girls with lots of love , Anna Plurabelle’, and there’s a mark where the writer’s last tear dropped on the page, the fairest signature under the sun, with Kisses and Crosses. ‘Unto lifes end’, and a Stain.
How preservation-minded and true-to-life that she, when strongly forbidden, stole our historical artifacts from those that lay dead so as to make us all lordly heirs of a nice basket of fruit. She lives in our midst and despite death and debt laughs for us – her rebirth is unstoppable. She has an apron covering her and her shoes tap time to music. Greeks may rise and Trojans may fall (there’s always two sides to every picture) …
…but that’s what makes life worth living – afterall the world is just a cell for citizens to sit in. Young women may run off with the attention, and young men talk smooth to them behind her back – but she does her husband’s duty while he sleeps. ‘Did you save anything?’ he asks. ‘Did I what?’ she asks with a grin. We all like a married woman because she’s mercenary. If the length of the land was under water and there’s nothing left – she’ll loan a match and set fire to some peat and search the shores for cockles to eat, and do all she can to puff the business on. And even if Humpty should fall umpteen times backward again, there’ll be eggs for breakfast in the morning, sunnyside up. So true is it that ‘the tea is wet where there’s a turnover’, and ‘when you think that you’ve spied a nice behind, you’ve been cocked by a hen’!
As she goes about her favourite pastimes of visiting the clergy, finding the first fruits, and collecting things, we should now look at the two mounds, and of course the hills all about like so many well-dressed young men and women sitting around at a tea party in the park. Come on boy! Go meet the girls! By order, Nicholas! We would see nothing if we choose a particular hill to examine, even though every crowd will have its particularly fine example. They are all there hoping to solve life’s puzzles, hopping around the middle of our fallen giant like kippers on a griddle, as he lies dormant - stretching from Howth Head to the small mounds of his feet at the Magazine Wall.
The Magazine Wall - behold this poor proof of Irish sense. Really? Or perhaps can you see the influence of the English instead. The silence of our fallen giant speaks volumes.
So this is Dublin?
Listen and you will hear the echos of Finnegan.
How charming is the view of Dublin – it reminds you of the washed out engraving that used to be on the backwall of Finnegan’s inn. (I’m sure the janitrix with her basket is listening hearabouts). It showed the ruins of a gravesite where Ptolemy was buried. (Somewhere someone is playing a harp and in the picture we see Fiery Farrelly listening.) It is a well known picture. Look and see the old ruins as new again – that’s Dublin by the Magazine Wall. If you listen you can hear the harp music. Someone will play forever by this river, and there will be listeners for all time. There will be fighting over the Irish harp, but the harp will always be theirs.
Fours things will always happen in Dublin according to the Mamalujo historians in their blue book of history, until clouds of heathersmoke overtake Ireland. One: A mountain of a man surmounted upon other men (HCE); Two: A shoe (in a basket) on a poor old woman (ALP); Three: An auburn maid, a bride to be deserted (Issy); Four: A pen and a post (Shem and Shaun).
As an idle wind will turn the leaves of a book, the lives of the living pass by in this blue book of the dead and dead they become a fossilised accounts of themselves in the cycle of events. The cycle is described in the book as follows.
1132 A.D. Men crawl like ants working upon a great white wall. Much crying in Dublin.
566 A.D. On the bonfire night celebration after a flood, an old woman…
…who had a basket to carry turf in, looked under the basket and found a sackfull of good shoes and small elegant brogues. Blurry works of art in Dublin.
566 A.D. At this time a golden haired damsel was aggrieved because she was ravished by the ogre King. Bloody wars in Dublin.
1132 A.D. Two sons were born to a goodman and his wife. These sons were called Caddy [Shem] and Primus [Shaun]. Primus was a soldier and drilled the people. Caddy went to a pub frequently and wrote a piece of farce. Bloody words in Dublin.
In the silence between the Antediluvious and the Annadominant periods shown above, the history writer must have fled with the pages of his writing. Perhaps he drowned in a flood, or an elk charged him, or he was hit by a bolt of lightning or the Danes attacked and killed him. In those days, someone who killed a scribe was let off with a small fine, while in these times of military and civil control a women was led to the scaffold for stealing that same amount from her neighbour’s drawers.
Now let us lift our eyes from the blue book of history, and see the glimmering glades that stretch before us. Lying beneath a pine a shepherd sits with his hook, a young goat and its sibling eat the verdure, and amid the grasses grows the shamrock beneath a sky that is ever-grey. Since primitive times, the cornflowers have been rising…
… the duskrose has filled the hedges, tulips have pressed up between the rushes and, like a town of two different lights, the whitethorn and redthorn have decorated the valleys. Though the different tribes have travailed and fought here, the Formoreans, the Danes and Ostmen, the Firbolgs and giants, in the end they gave way to Finnegan, who now lies beneath the green, and his sons who have built the city, and these lovely flowers have danced across the centuries, as fresh and as happy as on the eve of every battle.
The babbling tribes and their weapons came in vain: they have all gone. Fighting thugs, travelling Greeks, comely Norsemen, and bloody fool Fiannas: the men have softened, clerks now hum ‘Sir Sir…’. The blonde has sought out the brunette, with: ‘Do you love me my dear girl?’ The brunette girls respond to the blond boys, ‘Where is your present you fool!’ And they fell upon one another, and yet they have all since fallen. Still, even in these days, will the flower-like girls say to their faun-shy lovers: ‘Take me to you before I wilt’ and ‘Pluck me while I blush’. Well might they blush, because that phrase is as old as the hills. Isn’t it true that if you leave a fish in a wheelbarrow, it will flipper and shake? It’s just instinct. Tim Finnegan tempted Anna, and their flippers certainly shook!
In the name of Adam, there is a hill man wearing skins on the path! Who the Joe Beggar is he? Transformed is his pygmy head, and his feet are quite small, his toes lie together, and by god, that’s a pectoral – his chest muscles are monstrous. He’s drinking out of a skull made from some animal’s brain pan. He seems to me a dragoon of a man, a guard. He’s on the lookout here year round, is Constable Sacksoun, be it January or February, March or April or the cold revolutionary month of Pluviouse…
… and freezing cold. What a queer, square, bear of a man. Step over his defences of fire and the broken bones that have had the marrow sucked from them on the floor of his cave – beware! Perhaps he can point out the way to pillar of Hercules, the Wellington Monument. ‘How are you today, my fair Sir?’ Nnn. ‘Do you talk Norwegian?’ Nnn. ‘Do you speak English?’ Nnn. ‘Do you speak Saxon?’ Nnn. So it’s clear, he’s a Jute. Let’s exchange greetings and have a few words with each other about the bloody Greeks.
Jute (Narrator): Greetings, Jute!
Mutt: My pleasure.
Jute: Are you deaf?
Mutt: A little hard of hearing.
Jute: But not deaf-mute?
Mutt: Nono, but I stutter.
Jute: What? What’s the matter with you?
Mutt: I have a st-stammer.
Jute: What a ho-ho-horrible thing. How did it happen?
Mutt: At the battle, Sir.
Jute: Whose battle? Where?
Mutt: The inns of Clontarf, where He used to be.
Jute: On that side, your voice is almost inaudible. Come closer so I can see you.
Mutt: I’m hesitant. Up Boru! Boru, usurp! I tremble from wrath in my mind when I remember him!
Jute: One moment. Business is business. Let me for your hesitancy give you a little something. Here’s a silver coin and a piece of oak.
Mutt: It’s him on the coin! How I know the great cloak of Cedric Silkyshag. Old grisly, growler! He was dispatched on that identical spot. Here…
…where the liberties took place, at the monolith. There where the misses mooned and urinated in the bushes.
Jute: Dispatched, simply because, as Tacitus tells it, he dumped a pile of rubbish onto the soil here.
Mutt: All that rock (that built the city) he dumped by the river.
Jute: Lord almighty! What a babble of noise it must have made?
Mutt: Similar to a bull in the field. Or rooks roaring over the king’s tomb. (He sings) I could talk to him /of the spumy horn/ with the woolly side in/ by the neck of Sutton/did Brian O’Linn.
Jute: Pour boiled oil and raw honey on me if I believe a word from start to finish of your utter damned rot! It’s unheard of and obscene! Good afternoon! I’ll see you damned!
Mutt: I quite agree. But wait a second. Walk a bit round this isle and you shall see the old plain of my ancestors, homefree and ours, where one hears the wail and whimper of the peewee over the salt marshes. There is a city made by the law of this man, where by right of his written decree all was his, from ‘In the beginning’ to the fullstop of our finish. Let Ireland remember, that we are a merging of two races, light and dark, and a little red dog too. Each pushed eastwards in insurgencies and then fell back. Countless lives were lost at this place, they fell like snowflakes, litters of them from aloft, in a western blizzard of a whirlwind. Now they are entombed in the mound, ashes to ashes, earth to earth. Pride, O pride! This is your prize.
Jute: What a stench there must have been!
Mutt: As it was, so let it be. Hereunder they lie. Large by the small, the well-known with the stranger, the babe alone, in the great grand hotel of the mound, a house if you like, forming a mountain on top of Earwicker, all drowned by the ages. All are equal in this mound cemetery that we love.
Jute: All that death!
Mutt: Melded together! From the fierce ocean they came, singing despondently. And into the ancestors’ mound they were swallowed. The earth is nothing but bricks and the remains of human beings. He who understands, can read its story down on all fours. [He sings a spell] One castle, two castle, three castles crumbling/ tell me true the way into Dublin/Hum-bloody-fair. …But say it softly, and be very quiet!
Jute: Why quietly?
Mutt: Because of the giant Earwicker with his wife Anna the fair.
Jute: In the mound?
Mutt: See, this is his Viking grave!
Mutt: Are you astonished, are you?
Jute: Aye, I am thunderstruck. I’m going mad!
Stoop, if you are so minded, to this claybook – what curious signs (stoop lower) we can see in this strange alphabet. Can you read (and don’t forget, we’ve looked at it once already) its world? It tells the same story of all of us. Miscegenation on miscegenation. It is the writing on the wall. They lived and laughed and then died, in meandering tales that stretch back to the heathen days of when our giant walked the earth, their lives linked in a continuous sequence to those times. This mound offers a queer terracotta view of it all, although it is not a certain view. Here is an hatchet, some gold and a ploughshare that dragged back and forth across the earth. Here are figurines of armed warriors, and here are some more. Further, this female effigy is for a fired-thing called a fun-for-all. Arrange them for war! Hold your fire! Up guards and at them! Face to face!
When such a small bits represents a whole, that was just how we had learned to use an alphabet. Here – stoop further – are several pieces of eight that made up the soldiers pay. Decayed rock candy and some mashed up oranges. Well, well, why did they do it? This is a hawthorn post that has been rammed into the soil like some fool’s traitorous thrust for vengeance. What a nice old mess it all makes! A midden or horde of objects! An alphabet of all things: olives, beets, camels, dolls, Alfreds, Betties, McCormacks and Daltons. Stoop further and see our eggs here, cracked with age, and all now quite obsolete, and mouldy old wobblers, hardly worth a wipe of grass. See the snake-like worms everywhere: our Dublin mound was swarming with snakes once. They came to our island from England from over the sea in a cargo of prohibited apples. But then came Patrick and his garbage cans and caught all the snakes quicker than Eve could pick up her whats-its. Some will try to divide the contents of the mound up and analyse it mathematically, but all is based on one fusion.
The sign of HCE with its three axis is that unity. This sign can move clockwise: it has three straight lines, arranged on top of a bar. To understand the unity of the sign you start with the biggest snake of them all – the bottom bar - then add the three young males as three upright bars, and in this is also the sign of the females, the ones who provide messages and gifts to the future. And so co-joined, they created the hundredweight of children that lie here, children you can, and we all can, keep creating until the horror at the end of the world. What a tale, as ancient as the Neanderthals, that shows us the original inhabitants, then the next successive waves of ‘squatters’ on the land. We say that we are the sons and daughters of the earth, but that has not always been the case.
True, in those days there was no paper or pens. Those times were ancient. But the message I see in the mound is: ‘You gave me a treasure from your basket, Anna, and I wrote a letter. I asked you, Finnegan, for something and you went to the wall.’ The world is writing its story in its ruins and always will, about everything…
… that falls within the realm of our senses, until the last camel reaches its final destination. But the battle horn, the drinking pledge and the day of dread have gone. All we have left are bones, a pebbles, a ram’s skin, all chopped up and left to simmer in the ‘murdering pot’ of the earth. These days the teacher, with his ‘good morning’, his chart, his inkwell and the great primer, must for everyone keep up literacy else the books are of no use – they become incoherent. For that is all writing is, paper and hints and misprints. Only at the top of the mound do we see writing – Mister Typus, Mistress Tope and all the typotopies. So you need hardly to tell me how every word in the mound, in this clay book of Dublin, will carry three score and ten different readings until Death, who opened the door to mound, closes it once more.
Cry not yet! There’s many a mile to Dublin, and the park is so dark by candlelight. But look at what you have at hand, the insects are moving and marching, and every busy earwig has a story to tell. Once up a time, and twice behind a lettuce leaf and three times in the strawberry beds. You can ask your donkey if he believes the stories, but only walls have ears. There is the story of the wife who had forty bonnets in the times when hoops were in fashion. The story of Noah and a fish wife, a very grave man and wife full of levity, and the one about the golden youths that needed gelding, and about what a mischievous miss can make a man do. It was a bad marriage, with her lascivious dancing and pretty figure. She was a gay woman, right down to her lickable toes, voluptuous and with Valentine eyes. She’s the very best woman, who blows no-one any good! Flowing in and out to shore. So it’s sure that the fault was hers not ours. But let’s not say too much…
We are in the hearing of the fallen Norwegian (Finnegan). So tiny and cute was she – come and see! It was as if he knew what she did. So lissom! Listen! You can hear them talking!
The story begins at late at night a long time ago, in stoneage times, when Adam delved and his madam span at her spinning wheel. There was great big man who was the only man, and the first woman, who got her own way with this only man, when the only man lived alone and at peace. Jarl Van Hoother (Finnegan) had his red head high up in the lamphouse had laid his cold hands upon his stomach and his two twin boys, ancestors of ours, were kicking with their little sister (too young to speak) on an oil cloth floor in Howth castle. Then, by dermot, who should come to his home in the inn, but a neice of his called the prankquean. Then she pulled out a cigarette, spat on the door, and lit up. She spoke at the door in her rough language: ‘Mark me once – why am I like a bowl of pea soup?’ And that’s how the skirmish began. But from within came his voice, saying, ‘Shut up!’, so she kidnapped the twin Tristopher and to the west she ran, ran, ran. And Jarl van Hoother wirelessed after her in his soft Danish: ‘Stop thief! Stop. Come back to Ireland with my heir! Stop.’ But she answered: ‘Unlikelihood’. And there was wailing that night in Ireland. Then for forty days the prankquean wandered the world. In that time she washed away the blessings of all the love Tristopher had ever received and had the four old masters teach him, converting him to the one sure god, and he became a Lutheran. So then she ran ran ran back to Jarl van Hoother’s pub with Tristopher under her pinafore. There she came to the bar of his hostelry, where Jarl van Hoother was cooling his heels down in his malt cellar, wringing his warm hands, where the twin Hillary and…
…the infant girl were below on the tearsheet, wingeing and coughing, as brother and sister. Then the prankquean clipped the end of a cigarette and lit it. Then she spat before Jarl and said: Mark me twice: why am I like a bowl of pea soup? And ‘Shut up!’ said his majesty. So her majesty put down the twin Tristopher and took up Hillary and to Woman’s land she ran, ran, ran. And Jarl van Hoother blithered after to her: ‘Stop! Come back to Ireland with my heir!’ But the prankquean answered: ‘I am liking this’. And there was awful wailing and shooting stars in Ireland that night. And the prankquean went wandering the world for forty days and she punched the curses of Cromwell like a nail into Hillary and she had her four masters to teach him his tears, and she converted him to the one certain religion and he became a Christian. Then she started running, running, running, and before long she was back at Jarl van Hoother’s with Hillary under her apron. There she stopped by the bar of his home for the third time. And Jarl van Hoother was holding his stomach in fear, and the infant girl and the twin Tristopher were playing on the water cloth, kissing and spitting and wrestling and poking each other. The prankquean pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Then she spat on the archway and said: ‘Mark me Trice: why am I like a bowl of pea soup?’ And that was how the skirmishes ended, for like the terror of the Campbells, Jarl van Hoother came out through the archway in a violent rage wearing his lordly clothes...
…the colours of the rainbow. He clapped his hands loudly and ordered her in his thick Danish to ‘Just shut up dappy’. And the prankquean shot him. There was bang like a roll of thunder. Then everyone drank for free. For a man in his armour never had any chance against a girl in her undershorts. And from what we have found in the mound, that story was the first piece of illiterate poetry in the entire world: how Kirssy the Tailor opened up the Norwegian capitol. The prankquean was to keep her little girl, and the twins were to keep the peace, and Jarl van Hoother better be frightened! Thus the demise of the burger facilitated the growth of the city.
O Felix Culpa – happy fault! From the fallen bad comes the rise of the good. The head of Howth and the river Liffey, once a happy couple, but now fallen – let’s be proud of them. Their silence means we cannot determine the true source of the legend. Why are you silent Humphrey Noanswer? And where the dickens are you running to, Livia Noanswer? There are thunderclouds about his surly head, frowning he would eavesdrop upon us, listening for the sounds of our battles. Mark, his visage is darkening. With a lisp she whispers to him all the time of such and such and this and that. She hears so she has to laugh. If only he could understand her! Impalpably, he is deaf. The soundwaves buffer him, tromping him with their trumpeting waves of competing sounds. He is landlocked by his mistress the Liffey, and preserved in his descendents, babes and sucklings. The moaning pipes could tell him to his face and back - the lordly one whose loaf we are devourers of - how but for his old buttress wall – and also tell her to her lips, from which we have drunk from, if it were not for the presents she kept for us – these two our bread and water givers – there would not be a holy spire on the town, nor a maiden voyage ship in the dock, or a groom and bride at the altar, nor even a you or I…
… to play catch-as-catch-can in New Dublin by the swamp light, or any tools at all, or not even a convenience.
He dug crops-in and dug them out again and tilled the soil. All belonged to him and he worked his crew hard, earning his bread by the sweat of his brow. He made laws for us and delivered us from evil, did the mighty liberator Humphrey-Chimpden-Earwicker. He begat upon his wife, did our ancestor most worshipful, up until he thought of having a better wife in his windowless inn, with his red beard from ear to ear. And he will do so again if the whispering grasses could wake him, and may again if he like a phoenix rises from his ashes. And will again if it is true if what the elders say to the young. [Narrator sings] Did you bring wine for my wedding/did you bring a bride and bedding/will you whoop for my deading – is he awake?! Whiskey!
‘Your souls from the devil, did you think me dead?’
Now be easy, Mr Finnegan, sir, and take your rest like a god on a pension, and don’t be walking about. You would only lose yourself in Dublin now, the roads are that winding and you’d wet your feet in the fog and dew. You’d see some sick old bankrupt, or Patrick’s old donkey with his shoe hanging and clanking, or a slut snoring with her illegitimate child on a bench: it would turn you against life, it would. And the weather’s awful too. To part from Ireland is hard, to leave its incomparably lush fields, but don’t grieve. You’re much better off where you are, well dressed amidst your memories of your life, with all the treasures of your funeral pyre – pouch, gloves, flask, sword, kerchief, ring and umbrella – in the land of the souls, with Homer and Brian Boru and poor old Lonan and Nebuchadnezzar and Genghis Khan. And we’ll be coming here where you’re buried, to rake your gravel and bring…
… you presents – won’t we fenians? And we won’t stint with the spit and polish, will we druids? We’ll not buy you the shabby little images, penny dreadfuls, that you buy in city stores – but we’ll bring the offerings of the fields. Honey, that Doctor Flaherty the medicine man taught us is so good. Opium is not available, but honey is the holiest thing there ever was – hive, comb and wax – the food of glory. And some goat’s milk, sir, like the maid used to bring you. Your fame is spreading since your funeral, and there are whole households beyond Bothnia named after you. The men here are always recalling how you sat under the sacred tree with a sacred bowl of mead and drank it with a pledge of courage to its dregs. And they still admire your super-monument, and the sweat that went into producing it is the mark of your manhood. All the toothpicks chewed in Ireland are made from it. If you were bowed and soiled and crushed by that onerous load – it was just so that we all might have plenty – and when you were undone before the beauty of the goddess-like maidens, you showed all women how to be free was easy. He was a game old man, by god he was, but he’s dead and gone now. Peace to his great limbs, the Buddha, the full league length of him, while the million-candle powered lighthouse sweeps the Moyle Sea. There was never warlord in either Ireland or Britain, nor even in Pike County, like you, they say. Nor a king, or high king or sun king, or hung king. You could fell an elm that 12 urchins couldn’t form a ring round, and hoist high the sacred Lia Fail monolith. Where was there ever the like of you? Mick Magnus MacCawley can imitate you to…
…perfection and Leatherbags Reynolds imitates your walk and style of clothing. As Hopkins puts it, you were the eggnog. We call him Buggerlugs ever since he went to Jerusalem. You had a better game cock than Peter, Jake or Martin, and your goose was the one that graced the table on All Angel’s Day. So may the priest of seven worms, Father Vestray, never come near you as your hair grows as wheat beside the Liffey. Hip hip hooray! A hero! Seven times we salute you! All your gear lies exactly where you flung it last time. Stars have been named after you – your heart is in the system of the Shewolf, your crested head is in Capricorn, and your feet are in the cluster of Virgo. Your ‘O la la’ is in the region of the Sahuls, and that’s as sure as you were born. Be restful, the priests have said their incantations that have sealed you in your tomb.
Everything’s going on the same, or so it seems to all of us at the homestead. Aunt Florenza is still coughing. A bugle for breakfast, one gong for lunch and dinner. It’s been the same since William I was king, even the same shop display in the window: Jacob’s crackers, Dr Tipple’s Vi-Cocoa, and Edwards desiccated soup beside Mother Seagull’s syrup. The price of meat dropped when Reilly-Parson’s failed, and the supply of coal is short, but there’s plenty of bog in the yard. But the price of barley is up. The twins are at school and learning to spell and multiply. They’re all for learning books, and never throwing stones…
…at Tom Bowe Glassarse or Timmy the Tosser. It’s the truth – isn’t it lads? You were like a double-jointed janitor the morning they were born, and you’ll be a grandfather before too long. Kevin’s just a dote with his cherub cheeks, writing on walls in chalk, and with his lamp and bag pretending to be a postman. But the devil does seem to be in Jerry sometimes, making ink and tattooing himself. Your daughter Hetty Jane is a child of Mary. She’ll come out in her white and gold dress, with a touch of ivy, to kindle the flame on Felix Day. But Essie Shanahan has let down her skirts – you remember Essie in our Luna’s Convent. They called her Holly Mary, because her lips were so red, and called her Pia de Purebell, when the miners’ riots were cause by her. She’s making her reputation in a club twice nightly with a band. It would make your heart race it would to see her.
Easy now, you decent man, with your knees and lie quiet. Hold him there Ezekiel Irons and may god strengthen you! It’s our warm spirit, boys, that’s reviving him. Dimitrius O’Flagonan, cork that whiskey! You’ve drunk enough to float the Pomeroy. Come over here, Pat Koy! And stay over there Pam Yates! Don’t you be worried about the worms, here’s a light. Go back to sleep!
Don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on queer Behan and old Kate and the butter, trust me. She’ll do no tricky stuff with her war souvenir postcards to build your memorial. I’ll trip your hunting traps! Be assured! And we wound your clock for you, didn’t we lads? So you won’t be up a stump. And we won’t sell your stuff.
I saw your missus in the hall, she’s like the Queen of Eire. She’s fine, now don’t be talking. Devil’s wrong with her, and her eggs are still fine. The cat watches as she sews a dream together, a tailor’s daughter to the last. Or the cat will sit by the fire and wait for nestlings to fall down the chimney flue. If only you were there to explain the meaning of what happened and talk to her nice about money. Her lips would moisten in excitement. Remember when you drove her to Findrinny Fair – with you at the reins she never knew whether she was on land or at sea or flying through the blue sky as Earwicker’s bride. She was flirt then and still is a little now. She can sing well and loves her gossip at the postbox. She plays the concertina after her nap after a supper of potatoes and cabbage, with apple dumpling later, or just sits in her wheelchair reading the Evening World newspaper. To see it hurts. And the news, there’s all the news to tell you about! A leopards kills a fellow in Fez. Angry scenes at Stormount. Stella Star with her lucky star is going away - she’s making her way in The Loves of Selska and Pervenche, adapted from The Norwegian Wife. It will be sad time when she sings her final note – but that’s a long way away yet. How is Anna? She’s worth her weight in gold, says Adams and son, the would be auctioneers! Her hair’s as brown as it ever was, and all wavy. Sleep! Finn no more!
For there’s already a big ruddy ram of a lad on the premises and taking your place…
… as it is told to me. With his illicit booze in Chapelizod, and flourishing like a lord major or a baobab tree, and he’s a big as Brewster’s chimney and as broad as Phineus Barnum. He humps his share of the show there, he’s such a grand fellow, with a wife and three children, two twins and a little girl. And either he’s cursed and recursed and was seen doing just what you were seen doing by the four masters – or he couldn’t stop himself from seeing what you saw in those two girls – and the sky itself seems to have been full of witness – but that’s enough about that now. He too created for his loved ones a creation, be it a red monolith, a white theatre or a pink something coalescing. But one thing is for certain, what the sheriff vouches for, is that Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker came to this place in this archipelago’s first visiting schooner from the Dead Sea in the middle east, and has been reproaching himself for sixty years, becoming Irish under his turban as he brewed his whiskey. And another thing is that even with the belly that he swayed about when he was inebriated, our old offender was full of humility, community minded and a sect member by nature – which you can gauge by the number of nicknames he was given in so many languages – it is he and no other who will be ultimately held responsible for the hubbub that occurred in Eden.