People who add colour to our ordinary and every day

Reflection: Let the busy world be hushed

Fr Jason has an important message for us all this week - not to take our friends for granted...

The bell rang over the glass shop door and heralded the entrance of customers to the Dublin Bar on Belturbet’s steepest hill. Here men gathered, some in peaked caps aclad, some smoking pipes, ‘Sweet Afton’ cigarettes or ‘John Player Blues’, in their ones and twos and sometimes more as the newly arrived swallows swooped up and down the street without. There they told of the happenings of the day, beneath the stuffed fox with the mallard in its mouth, around the high-polished wooden counter of the public bar.

Here in the easy conversations that were had betwixt and between and across the bar, unbeknownst to themselves, these men divested their minds of the difficulties of the day as the pints of Guinness settled, the last downward pull of the pump giving their dark bodies the white collar that were theirs. There in their midst I sat but 17 and listened to the tales of these men from townlands around, knowing well that these were moments that might never be again in the company of men now long gone.

On one such evening as the men told their tales, the door flew open with dramatic effect so quickly that the bell didn’t have a chance to ring and there entered Gerry Fitz from below at the Erne, from this side of Folias Bridge. Gerry was an infrequent but welcome caller for a half one of Powers and a ‘Medium’ to follow that he hid below the inside of the counter for fear that his wife Christine might take him unawares when she had finished visiting with her sister Kathleen who lived in the house next door. Christine never minded her beloved taking a glass of Guinness but, when it came to the half ones of whiskey, she was apt to shake her head. This was their routine - she would call a céilí with her sister as he passed the time supping a medium or two of porter. The men and I just loved to see him call; for Gerry always had a tale to tell, sometimes tall but never to be forgotten.

But on this summer’s evening that the door flew open and he came in, his steps were long as he approached the bar. “Give me a Powers mighty quick, in fact make that a double for to tell you the truth, I’m in an awful way” …. The men sat with their faces aghast, to hear of all that happened to Gerry.

“Arragh what a day I’ve had... Oh how I’ll face home to Christine I just don’t know and if any of yous see her, make sure not to tell,” he began to a rapt audience.

“I went down as far as Carrigallen mart and begod I saw the loveliest little donkey that your eyes did ever see that some poor devil was selling, walking around the ring as sad looking as ever you saw… ah now the loveliest little donkey with a cross on its back. Well I thought to myself, Christine would love to pet and feed that wee thing and, sure me being the soft auld eegit that I am, bought the donkey and sure without a trailer to bring her home I put her standing upright in the back of the car, its head out one window and its tail out the other, and I took her easy coming home the road and she never budged only taken in by the green fields of Drumlane that passed her by but, before I turned the road for home, I pulled in below at Kilconny, just for a half one at John Gerard Flynn’s, to give me courage before I faced Christine.

“Well, I hardly had the half one taken until I heard the whack bang from without on the street. Oh them O’Keiths - what do you think they done? Well they hammered and battered the side door of car and near sent the donkey wild and, with her two hind legs, she kicked and kicked until she sent the back door flying off the good wee car and away like the hammers of hell the road for Derravona, ah there’s nothing surer but she passed Christine on the road and she’s below at the Bloody Pass by now. Ah quick give me another half one to settle me!”

The gospel of Easter tells of the two disciples, not on the road for Derravona, but on the road to Emmaus. They meet and walk with Jesus for part of the way but they do not recognise him. They sit with him at the table and tell him of their news but still they fail to to appreciate who he is. It’s only when he’s gone that they realise who it was that shared the journey with them. We too share the road of life with many people, people who walk with us part of the way or sometimes for the whole of a lifetime... people like Gerry Fitz add colour to our ordinary and every day and, it is only when they are gone, we really appreciate the fact that they, tall tales and small tales, were in our lives.


Once upon a time there was a lasting friendship