An excerpt from “Walking With Ghosts” by Gabriel Byrne | A Memoir

This is a wonderful book, beautifully written. I have a feeling I’ll be posting more than one excerpt. Here, he is talking about going to dances long ago. The sixties – he’s the same vintage as myself!

“Crowds streaming out of the pubs, some walking or on bicycles; hard chaws in their fathers’ cars leaning out windows with cigarettes, like they were in a film, combing oiled hair into Elvis quiffs and whistling at the girls click-clacking by in short dresses.

On the stage the spangle-suited band, brass flashing, guitars twanging beneath revolving globes that scattered shards of light over the dancers.

Wallflowers looked out with shy, uncertain eyes.

How long had they spent in front of the mirror getting ready and here they sat unwanted, with thumping hearts, yet hopeful they might be chosen, having to look unconcerned when they were not.

I understood them, afraid of being rejected, as I was shoved towards them in a herd of Brut aftershave and Guinness.”

Another excerpt from “Walking With Ghosts” by Gabriel Byrne | A Memoir

What his mother told him about meeting his father, and about his birth.

“It was our fate to meet like that because of the rain and the matches and the Metropole and the doorway, and if it hadn’t happened like that you might not be here now. Isn’t that a strange thing to think? The way we all come into the world.

You gave the fight not to come, but out you landed in the end. And you didn’t like it one bit. The red puss on you, and the baldy head, not a lick of hair; upside down and a slap on the arse to set you roaring. O the bawls of you! The whole country kept wide awake. Three o’clock in the morning in the Rotunda Hospital there beside the Gate Theatre. Lying on my shoulder, eyes shut tight, sleeping like a kitten. O, but a cranky lump if you didn’t get a sup of the breast.”

Isn’t that marvelous? The red puss on you, and the baldy head. Love it!

Ghosts of Christmas Past

This evening I put up my little tree and switched on the fairy lights: I wrapped the presents and set them round about. And then I sat alone and thought about how Christmas will be this year. Generally, on Christmas Day we are all split up around in-laws and out-laws and this year will be no different. But always, on St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) everyone comes here for blue cheese and ham and oatcakes, and mince pies with Bailey’s or cream. They bring their presents and we have an orgy of present opening with the grandchildren handing them out. I don’t know how it will work this year but it will surely be different. I was a bit sad until I shook myself and poured a glass of good red wine. What have I to complain about? I have shelter, warmth, and food. My family are all healthy and secure.

What about the poor souls shivering on the Halfpenny Bridge (in Dublin) with their plastic cups held out for change – which no one has these days when shops prefer card payments. How do they feel, watching crowds passing up and down, laden with bags of food and drink and Christmas goodies? They look so cold and ill. Druggies, people say, dismissing them. I don’t care if they are drug addicts or alcoholics; I do not blame them or look down on them. Why should I? How could I? Addiction is a terrible scourge, and no one would choose to live like that; they just end up that way.

Our government has just awarded some of its politicians a raise; one of them said they were legally obliged to do so.

From the collected poems by Patrick Kavanagh – on God and the Devil

I met God the Father in the street

And the adjectives by which I would describe him are these:

Amusing

Experimental

Irresponsible –

About frivolous things.

He was not a man who would be appointed to a Board

Nor impress a bishop

Or gathering of art lovers.

He was not splendid, fearsome or terrible

And yet not insignificant.

This was my God who made the grass

And the sun,

And stones in streams in April;

This was the God I met in Dublin

As I wandered the unconscious streets.

This was the God who brooded over the harrowed field –

Rooneys – beside the main Carrick road

The day my first verses were printed –

I knew him and was never afraid

Of death or damnation;

And I knew that the fear of God was the beginning of folly.

I’ll post The Devil tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this and find it interesting. Patrick Kavanagh (1905 -67) was, and still is, one of Irelands most loved poets. A native of Co Monaghan in Ulster, he spent most of his adult life in Dublin, where he was recognised and saluted on the streets.