The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

remembrance of padres past

"What's the parish priest's name?" wondered Uncle Thaddeus.
I pondered.
"You know," I said, "I can't think of it."
"You can't think of it!"
"Well you can't think of it either."
"I'm 85."
"Touche Uncle Thaddeus. Touche. But I'm fairly sure you're only 84."
"You really can't think of it?"
"It's the darndest thing. I know the last PP was Father Des Dupple. I know the one before that was Fr Michael Grufferty. I know the one before that was the late Father Dunlea. I know there was a padre here called Father Baines who was found dead in the bath."
"Was it suicide?"
"No. Just death. There was a nice liberal padre before him called Fr Braithwaite. He used to give sermons about the latest episode of The Incredible Hulk on TV. He ministered to Granny when she died. I remember he nearly passed peacefully out as she was going croakies. And he used to tell us more than we really wanted to know in some of his sermons. He once began a discourse by saying: 'I was deeply in love with a girl but she refused to marry me. She never changed her mind as you can see because I'm still here.' Classic."
"Whatever happened to him?"
"He left the priesthood to get married."
"Oh."
"Then there's Father Towers. He was parish priest in the 1980's. He's the one who was found dead at the side of the road."
"Natural causes?"
"Please, please, cannot answer question now. Suicide and blackmail, permit me say murder."
"What?"
"Charlie Chan."
"Ah James."
"Sorry Uncle."
"So you can't remember the name of the current parish priest."
"Isn't it strange. I can remember every padre in the history of Kilcullen except the one I'm trying to remember. I can remember the one who hit the editor of the Bridge magazine a box in the snot when he was a kid."
"When the priest was a kid?"
"No when the editor was a kid. That cost us dearly. Think what I could have accomplished if your man was on side with my light hearted pro Catholic political advocacies. For one thing there would have been far fewer pictures of Lord Kitchener surreptitiously placed beside my column in order to discredit me."
"You're off the subject. The parish priest... keep going."
"Then there was Father Tim O'Hara. He was the one praying beside the sick child in Naas hospital. That miracle I told you about. The mother had been told the child would die that night. Father O'Hara got up to go and whispered to her: The child is going to be okay."
"Was he okay?"
"Well he lived to become the worst skanger in the town so it's a kind of fifty fifty call as to whether he was okay or not."
"Did that really happen?"
"It really happened that the child was expected to die and he lived. The bit about him being a skanger is just a punchline that appeals to me."
"Keep thinking."
"There was Father Cassidy. He was famous for cursing on the altar."
"Did he curse much on the altar?"
"Once. That's enough in this town. I think he got a bit excited in one of his own sermons and he said shit or bastard or something. I was actually there for that one. I was eight years old. I remember he immediately started apologising to God. Everybody was sitting upright, eyes wide as silver dollars. But I'd missed it. The adults all looked thrilled to bits but no one would ever tell me what he'd said. I hadn't been listening to the sermon until he started saying sorry to the Almighty about his bad language."
"Okay. Now you're on form. You're bound to remember the one I'm looking for in a minute."
"My brain is sending me the name Nick Cusack. But I know that's not it."
"Why would your brain be doing that?"
"Because it wants to p--- me off."
"But why would the name Nick Cusack come to you?"
"I think we'll find that whoever the incumbent parish priest really is, his name will contain some of the letters in Nick Cusack. That's the way my brain works when it's really acting the sack."
"Niall Mackey!" exclaimed Uncle Thaddeus in triumph.
"There you go. Niall for Nick. And Mackey for Cusack. Well done Brain. You really stuck it to me that time."
"James," said the Uncle with sudden concern, "do you often have trouble remembering things?"
"Let me this way put it Uncle. Yesterday I rang my feminist cousin Pauline and when she answered the phone the first thing I said was: Who have I rung?"
"And what did she say to that?"
"I don't remember."
"You must remember what she said to you."
"No. But my brain is telling me that whatever she said contained some of the letters in the phrase Duck Cough. And by the way Uncle. Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my kitchen?"

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