The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Thursday, March 17, 2016

the eve of saint patrick's

Evening at the chateau.
The Mammy and her favourite son are sitting in the kitchen.
"So what happened with Marcus in the end?" I enquire. "Did I actually cure him with the healing touch?"
Marcus is the name I give a wart which graced the Mammy's hand up until a few months ago.
I'd been trying to make it go away with ye olde patented Heelers healing touch.
I've always fancied the idea that I might have a healing touch bold readers.
By the way if I make a sudden lunge towards any of you that happen to meet me, normally that's what's going on.
I'm just trying out the healing touch.
Having a go with a few test subjects has latterly seemed to me the only way to find out for sure if I've got the healing touch or not.
"Well the wart is gone," said the Mammy. "But I have to admit I got tired of waiting on your healing touch to work. So I got your brother to freeze it off."
It's incredible, isn't it bold readers.
With one of Ireland's greatest living mystics living in the house, the woman still goes running to the eponymous Doctor Barn.
('Ere Guvnor, who you calling eponymous? - Dr Barn note.)
A gentle evening sun was casting shadows through the garden of my father.
Paddy Pup lay flumped beside us on the kitchen floor.
Conversation turned to an uncle who's recently told us he's suffering from shingles.
"In our day we used to take the blood of a Keogh for that," mused the Mammy.
"Exsqueeze me?" quoth I curiously.
The aged parent hastened to explain.
"People believed the blood of a Keogh would heal many things," she said. "Keoghs at my school were often called upon by the other children to give a few drops of blood. We'd go to the Keoghs if we had any number of scrapes, wounds, stings, pimples, bumps or lesions."
"Everything from scabies to rabies," I put in eagerly.
The whole idea seemed vaguely hilarious.
In my minds eye I could imagine young Keoghs in the Ireland of yesteryear living in constant dread of friends and neighbours wanting to access their blood to remedy whatever plague was sweeping the village at the time.
Keogh kids would be playing in the school yards, and they'd always look deathly pale.
Either because some loon had just siphoned off a few quarts of their blood.
Or because they were just plain terrified some loon might be contemplating doing so.
Ah Ireland, my Ireland.
May you never change.
The Mammy and I were ready to indulge in more harmless mirth at the expense of the miraculous healing powers of the Keogh clan.
But from his armchair in the television room, the great bear stirred.
"Are you talking about the blood of a Keogh?" asked the Dad as he joined us.
We told him we were indeed.
This gave the perfect excuse for el Dadlorado to interject his own rather arcane explanation for the much vaunted powers of the blood of a Keogh.
"The tradition of the blood of a Keogh dates from the time of Saint Patrick," expounded the Dad knowledgeably. "Saint Patrick was baptising a Celtic tribe. The whole tribe had gathered around him on a hillside. There was a tribesman called Keogh standing right beside him. At a certain point in the ceremony Saint Patrick invoked the one true God and as he did so he rammed his Crozier into the ground."
(Crozier = a staff held by a Bishop symbolising his authority, a sort of jewelled walking stick with a pointy end. - Saint Patrick note.)
The Dad paused for dramatic effect and to let the Saint Patrick note sink in.
"The crozier went right through the foot of the tribesman called Keogh," he continued. "The man did not cry out. Instead he stood to attention and remained silent in spite of the searing pain. At the end of the ceremony Saint Patrick went to get his crozier. He saw that it had impaled the man's foot to the ground and he was appalled. Saint Patrick asked the man why he hadn't cried out. The man explained that he'd thought it was part of the baptism. Saint Patrick called out to the whole tribe: Let this man's blood and the blood of his descendants never go to waste. And that is why to this day the blood of a Keogh brings healing in Ireland."
When the Dad had finished his tale the Mammy and I retained a respectful silence for, oh about a full half micro second."
Our laughter raised high the roofbeams carpenters.
"That was also the first recorded time in Irish history when anyone ever said Jaysus," I theorised knowledgeably "The Keogh lad said it the moment Saint Patrick had gone."
The mirth of the Mammy and her favourite son knew no bounds.
The Dad retreated to the television room, shaking his head more in sorrow than in anger.
When he had gone we wiped our eyes.
"Nowadays there's no need for any of those old folk remedies," said the Mammy on a serious note. "There's tablets that clear up shingles."
"Yes," I interjected gleefully. "They're called Blood Of A Keogh tablets."
And there our story ends.


Blogger Adrienne said...

Ok - it's 6:30am and you've been up since before 4am. Do you ever sleep?

I need some of that blood so I can operate like you - with very little sleep. Found myself laughing out loud with you and your Mum.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

You have an award waiting for you at my place ;-)

4:11 PM  
Blogger heelers said...

You are a gem.

5:22 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Actually - I'm starting to feel like a stalker. Do you have stalkers in Ireland?

7:16 AM  
Blogger heelers said...

It's our national sport!

1:12 AM  
Anonymous MissJean said...

I thought that hurling rocks at stalkers was the national sport. Hit 'em in the head, earn two points. Or is that jai lai?

You know, you shouldn't laugh at your Dad. He's trying to give you some wisdom before he goes. Your mother, on the other hand, can laugh all she wants. That's her right by marriage. ;)

7:00 PM  
Blogger heelers said...

And don't she know it!

12:42 AM  
Anonymous MissJean said...

This is one of my favorite anecdotes about your family. Although I still don't have the foggiest about how to pronounce "Keogh" - Koh? Kyo? Kof?

3:11 AM  
Blogger heelers said...

MJ, Kyo is the closest to the way we pronounce it. You'll also occasionally hear Kee-ho as a ponounciation. My dear old Dad maintains that the Kee-ho pronunciation is for a separate name, spelt Kehoe, which he avers may or may not be related to the Keogh you've come to know and love. The Kee-ho variant is found quite often in Wexford, that is in the South East of Ireland.

1:29 AM  
Anonymous MissJean said...

I enjoy it when you repost some of your greatest hits. I hope you're having a blessed Lent, James. - MJ

1:49 AM  
Blogger heelers said...

It's getting more blessed by the moment!

9:05 PM  

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