Sean Walsh

I live in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes. Most times I live in my head, quite unaware of my surroundings – if you know what I mean… If you succeed in tracking Sean Walsh, please let me know, ok? I've been searching for him for years…

Jenny Walsh nee Byrne… my Mum.

Published on Friday 2nd March 2018 by Sean Walsh

My mother, Jenny Walsh nee                           Byrne.

A random quote: “I never went to school but I met the scholars!

In many ways she was way ahead of them! “Could buy and sell yis…”

Her lore was of the earth – good, rich soil – her turn of phrase, earthy.

In the University of Life she graduated, summa cum laude…

 

“And Mammy working the pub, trying to make ends meet,

during the war… and after.”

 

 And she did, how I don’t know.

Begged, borrowed and stopped short – but only just –

of stealing… to put bread on the table – hot nourishment –

day after day, evening after evening… for all the family…

 

“Bless them all! Bless them all!

The long and the short and the tall!

Bless De Valera and Sean MacEntee

for their brown bread and the half ounce of tea…”

And she would say to me betimes –

Ah John, you’re a terror!..

If the divil came to look for a liar

I don’t know where we’d hide you…!

 

‘Born and brought up in Louth village… ‘one sister that I knew of, Kitty, who married a McCann, set up

home with him in Vincent’s avenue, Dundalk, bore him three daughters, two sons… Mae, Josephine,

Rita… Francis and Brendan. (The eldest son changed his name to Tomas MacAnna when he succeeded

Ernest Blythe as Artistic Director of the Abbey National theatre.)

 

This by way of Intro:

November, 1967. The Abbey National theatre company gave three performances of Tarry Flynn by

Patrick Kavanagh, adopted for stage by P J O’Connor (who was to become my Boss in the RTE radio

drama department more than a decade later) and directed by Tomas MacAnna, in the Town Hall,

Dundalk.

The Abbey’s Artistic Director, returning  in triumph to his native Dundalk with his acclaimed

production of Tarry Flynn, organized a very good seat for his aunt, my mother, Jennie Walsh – and

when the curtain came down he put it to her: “Did you recognize any of the characters?” “Yes,” she

replied, “I think I spotted a few…”

 

And did she smile, I wonder – maybe laugh outright – when the stage parish priest admonished a few

locals for missing Sunday mass. “The sinners that died and went down to Hell and when they realized

where they were they cried out – ‘Lord, Lord, we didn’t know!..’ And a voice came down from Heaven:

‘Aye, well yis know now!..’

 

Kavanagh had been making his way towards that opening night in the Town Hall via a pub or two. He

didn’t make it to the performance, became ill, very ill. Just another bout of the bottle? How often in

the past he had recovered from a binge? But not this time. Towards the end of November he passed

away in a Dublin nursing home. A friend and supporter who stayed at his bedside during his final

hours vouched for the fact that he kept whispering even as he drifted – “Oh God, I do believe…”

 

 And here’s a thing! Whenever there was a jingle at all in the ould pocket he went drinking – locally, in

Innishkeen – or by bus to Dundalk. And it’s on the cards that he might well have made his way into our

pub in Park street betimes, another nuisance customer: a high-pitched, troublesome braggart… tetchy,

argumentative, superior, unkempt, disheveled, demanding… or suddenly joking, chortling at his own

cleverality…

And would my Dad’s sister and her family – the O’Rourkes of the Mill who lived in Innishkeen – have

known him, known of him? Or did he go unrecognized among his own… at that time?.

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