the monica leech laugh in
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin came into Fallons pub at Kilcullen on Saturday night.
It was a rum moment.
He looked a bit shook.
No one took much notice of him.
We've seen it all in Kilcullen.
Tony Bloody O'Reilly lives up the road.
The Archbishop went up to the counter and said to Billy the barman: "A pint of Guinness please."
Billy the barman allowed a sneer to curl across his peasant features.
Apparently he takes his moral lead from RTE, the Irish Times, Independent Newspapers and an IRA apologist called Nell McCafferty.
There was a moment's silence.
"F--- off," said Billy the barman.
The whole bar turned.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin took a step back.
He turned white as a sheet.
He cleared his throat.
"My good man," he said. "People often look on me as a symbol. As an authority figure and not as a person. But I am a person. I have feelings. I was not born to wealth and privilege. I'll have you know I was born into abject poverty. My parents slaved to get me to school. My father broke his health working extra shifts in a brick works trying to make ends meet. No other family member could read or write. My mother walked a cow along the side of the road every day so that I could have a chance even of a primary education. In primary school I knew from the outset that I had to finish top of my class every year or I could not come back. At the end of primary school I had to win a scholarship or else there would be no hope of a secondary education. I won that scholarship. And I studied hard for five years, knowing all the way that if I did not excel, my hopes of a better life would be finished. I gained the top Leaving Cert in the Republic of Ireland in 1972. That result meant I was given a government grant to pursue a university degree in social sciences. That university degree persuaded the church to accept me as a student priest. So began seven more years of back breaking study, always with the spectre hanging over me, that if I once slipped up there was no other job for me, no other life, no other way out. I graduated from the seminary top of my class. I achieved a Masters at night classes while working full time in the inner city parish of Ballymun. My days were spent among the drug dealers and the joy riders. My nights poring over books. After the Masters, I was accepted at Trinity College and obtained a Phd. Still studying at night. Still working every hour of the day in the inner city. The Bishop of Dublin told my story to some Italian Bishops and I was called to Rome to pursue further studies. Even then there were no guarantees. If I failed, my parents' sacrifices would have been in vain. But I did not fail. I STUDIED AT THE FEET OF THE POPE IN ROME. IT WAS HE WHO DECIDED I SHOULD BECOME AN ARCHBISHOP. NO ONE ELSE. JOHN PAUL HIMSELF. AND YOU TELL ME TO FUCK OFF... YOU... YOU FUCK OFF."