Just Today

“Is it like today? Ah, ah
Then there followed days of kings, empires, and revolution
Blood just looks the same when you open the veins
But sometimes it was faith, power or reason as the cornerstone
But the furrowed brow has never left his face”

  • Karl Wallinger

I think we’ve been running Monaghan Coder Dojo for about 9 years. Up until the Covid restrictions we met every second Saturday between 12 -2 pm and through controlled chaos we somehow managed to impart some knowledge on some kids. When I say ‘we’ , I mean that Joe, Gordon , Kae, Robbie, Kenneth,  and Gerry imparted knowledge, while I smiled and nodded encouragingly.

In our second year we got very ambitious and Gerry and Robbie set about creating our own world in Minecraft on our very own server. This would be a teaching aid. The kids would be locked in their own Minecraft houses and they would be given clues and have to remember something that we’d taught them to work out how to get out and then we’d planned weeks and weeks of challenges and tasks for them.

Gerry and Robbie, like the rest of us, were volunteers and they were both working full time and put hours and hours of work in over many weekends to get the world ready. They were incredibly proud of it. And it was indeed amazing !

On the first Saturday that we revealed it to the kids they were all excited. We spent the first hour setting them up with Minecraft accounts and then at 1.00 pm on Saturday the 21st September 2013 the Monaghan Coder Dojo Minecraft World was born.

By 1.12pm on Saturday the 21st September 2013 one of the little bastards had not only worked out how to get out of his little house, he managed to detonate a bomb, a bomb that he’d built since 1.00pm on Saturday the 21st September 2013, which destroyed the whole world.

Gerry and Robbie couldn’t believe what had happened , they were angry, tried to figure out if it could be repaired, it couldn’t , got very, very down about the whole thing, and then eventually smiled and realised that this had meant that someone had indeed been listening to all of our classes and had learnt enough to turn our own knowledge against us. The clever little bastard !

It was a triumph really.

Life doesn’t always lead us to where we thought we were going. It can be quite wonderful like that.

Similarly , today, everyone will be going nuts about ‘Black Friday’ without giving a moments consideration to how a man from Monaghan started it all…

Yes ,, really.

Like everything in the Universe, good or bad, Black Friday has it’s origins in Monaghan.  In this particular instance the genesis of Black Friday began with a dispute between two sets of Monaghan Presbyterians. There was a split in the Church of Scotland in 1712 and this gradually spread to Monaghan in 1731 with new congregations seceding from older ones. Castleblayney was , much like today, a hotbed of piety and division. The Presbyterians in ‘Blayney had split over who was the most Presbyterian in 1733 , but the secessionists then split again into two further sects of ultra and uber Presbyterians in 1751 and poor Rev.James Gordon was caught in the crossfire. Eventually he’d had enough of his warring congregations and hightailed it to Raphoe in Donegal before eventually settling in Scotland.

The Gordon family fortunes never really recovered and every new generation of the family appeared to be born with an ever larger chip on their shoulder.

In 1840 James ‘Jimmy’Gordon was born. As he grew up hearing of his family’s travails he decided he’d had enough and headed off to London where he reinvented himself as Lord Glencairn and managed to convince the London  jewellers, Marshall & Sons, to open a credit account for him and he ‘borrowed’ £25,000 worth of their finest gems before boarding an ocean liner to New York where he arrived in 1870 using the name of Lord Gordon-Gordon.

This was the era of the robber barons in the United States, railways , skulduggery, Vanderbilts  and vast fortunes.  Into this maelstrom wandered the nonchalant Lord Gordon-Gordon telling anyone interested in listening, or simply within earshot, that he was seeking to buy large tracts of land to settle immigrants from his Scottish estates.

 He got to know some of the main protagonists in a vicious battle between Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Jay Gould for control of the Erie Railroad  and he let it be known that he also headed a large consortium of British and European lords and princes who had vast wealth at their disposal and who desperately wanted to invest in the ‘New World’. Jay Gould offered Lord Gordon-Gordon one million dollars in railway stock if he would back him in his attempt to take control of the Erie Railway away from Vanderbilt.  Gordon agreed, giving his word. As soon as he got the stock he promptly sold it and took the penthouse suite in the The Astor House hotel where he truly lived like a lord.

Gould was livid. He had been made a fool of and promptly sued Lord Gordon-Gordon. The trial began in March 1873 and, to prove his bona fides, Gordon provided the court with the list of British lords and European princes that formed his consortium. The Monaghan families of Lesley, Shirley and Rossmore all featured along with Prince Ludwig II of Bavaria, Amadeo Futumpsch of Montenegro and Ivor The Enlightened of Westphalia. The New York court thought it only fair to grant Gordon bail while they contacted the other members of his consortium and he promptly skipped across the border to Canada.

The Canadians, no fans of uppity Yankees, refused to extradite him as he had convinced them that the charges were false and that he was quite interested in buying large tracts of Manitoba. Gould was now incandescent with rage. He organised a gang to travel across the border and kidnap Gordon and bring him back to NewYork to face trial. The gang, comprising Gould, two future governors of Minnesota and three future congressmen , succeeded in kidnapping Gordon but were stopped and arrested by the Mounties before they could make it back to the US and now Gould faced the unimaginable indignity of being jailed while Gordon was free.

The Canadians refused to grant Gould and his gang bail and this almost led to all-out war between Canada and the US. The governor of Minnesota asked for volunteers to join a militia to invade Canada and free the Gould Gang. Thousands signed up and trade between the two countries ground to a halt. Eventually the authorities negotiated bail for Gould and his friends and they were released to a heroes’ welcome home.

Lord Gordon-Gordon was in his element, being courted by society and the press, he became a popular celebrity, due in no small part to his generous nature and the wild abandon with which he was spending Gould’s million dollars. Unfortunately, the story made its way across the Atlantic to Europe and Marshall & Sons recognised his photograph in the newspaper. They sent a member of staff to Canada who identified Lord Gordon-Gordon as Lord Glencairn who had stolen £25,000 of jewellery from them to the authorities. The Canadians agreed to deport him to England.

On the eve of his deportation , Friday November  27th  1874 , Lord Gordon-Gordon held one of the biggest parties Quebec had ever seen. He spent almost every cent he had left on food, wine and gifts for all of his guests. It was the busiest shopping day Quebec had ever seen. After the party that night, Lord Gordon-Gordon retired to his room , he would not return to England in disgrace, he took out the little silver monogrammed  pistol he’d bought that day , and said goodbye to the world.

There was no next of kin, and no money left, just a silver pistol with ‘Monaghan 1751’ engraved on it which now sits in a little glass case in a forgotten corner of the Musée Bernier in Quebec.

For many years after that the shop owners would gather on the anniversary of Lord Gordon-Gordon’s final farewell and have their Black Friday lunch in his honour in the Chateau Frontenac.

Funny how things work out sometimes…



P.S. Came across this during the week, it’s class. Williams Blood by Grace Jones.

Author: paul

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