The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

the lifting of the veil

Coffee with Miss America.
She is fascinated by what she perceives to be my Irishness.
"What's a banshee?" quoth she.
"It's a sort of ghost spirit," I tell her expertly. "A spirit, not a demon. Supposedly not specifically evil. The name comes from the Irish language words bean sidhe, a term which means Woman Of The Fairies. In Irish tradition the fairies were supernatural beings, spirits of the wild places. The Irish lived in fear of the fairies until Christianity ended the lordship of fear over us. But within my lifetime, some Irish people, particularly in rural areas, were still actually palpably afraid of such beings. Althought the very name fairy seemed to silly to me to be fearful. I remember chatting to some modern hip rock music loving teenagers from Mayo in the 1980's. I asked one stylish young guy, a lad called Michael who was about fifteen years old, did he believe in the fairies. He answered with a determined no. Then his sister let out a guffaw and challenged him to walk home after dark near the earth mound in one of the fields which local lore reputed to be a fairy fort. And Michael just as determinedly and this time with a shudder, announced that he would not. Anyway the tradition maintains that when someone from an old Irish family is about to die, the family will be visited by a banshee. She may come in visible form, as a gorgeous young sexor stroking her hair. She may appear as the hag of Bearna. Or you may just hear her, wailing loudly about the coming of death to the house."
"Jinkies," said Miss America thrilled, and sounding very like Daphne from the old television cartoon Scooby Doo.
I could have kissed her.
I love Daphne.
She was the best actress in Scooby Doo.
After a tick Miss America was struck by another question.
"James, do you believe in the banshee?"
"Oh come on. I saw you hesitate. You do believe."
"No. I only hesitated because I suspected that you would be more interested in me if I pretended to be a dark mysterious Celtic nutter who believes in banshees."
"Dark and mysterious?"
"Dark, mysterious with streaks of grey and a pot belly. I know that's what you're after. It's like Batman's car. Chicks love the pot belly."
She was watching me keenly.
"You're not fooling me James. Some little part of you believes in the banshee. In spite of yourself. And for all your attempts to be a rationalist or even a Christian, you can't control it. It's beyond you."
I decided to confess what every Irishman is sworn to keep secret.
"Okay, okay. If there was a family party at the Chateau De Healy, and a sexy girl with lustrous long brown hair and a short skirt, materialised out of the wall, and came walking towards me, wailing: Heelers you're going to die, die, die... Okay, okay, I admit it. First I'd make sure it wasn't Amal Al Idrissi Ouzagagh. And then I'd be relieved that it was only a banshee. And then I'd probably ask her out."


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