“Bless my cotton socks I’m in the news
The king sits on his face buttons all askew
All wrapped up the same
All wrapped up the same
They can’t have it
You can’t have it
I can’t have it too
Until I learn to accept my reward”


Last week there was a wonderful, uplifting , positive, raucous, foot stomping, and very, very Monaghan event, and my Soulmate and I got all dressed up, and went to it with our great friends Hilda and Kieran, and my two brothers, John and Stephen, and their long suffering partners Linda, and Sarah.

The Monaghan Business Awards are held every couple of years and are organised by the local council and local business/community group, the Monaghan Town Team. It’s a black tie shindig and all 420 places sold out in record time this year.

There was a buzz about the place as soon as we entered the Hillgrove Hotel, everyone looked fantastic, and there was a real festive atmosphere.

It felt great to be out and about and seeing lots of people that we hadn’t seen in a while. Quick cha  ts were had and lots of photos were taken.

We took our places for dinner and welcoming speeches were made and our MC, Grainne McElwain, took firm control of proceedings and awards were presented between courses.

There was great support and love for everyone nominated, and all winners were greeted with loud and sustained applause. A couple of winners stood out simply for the fact that winning clearly meant so much to them and their own sense of being appreciated and acknowledged was infectious. Henry’s from Scotstown raised the roof when they were announced as winners , and later Roma from Emyvale overwhelmed everyone in the room with their joy at winning.

The Treanor clan from Mullan Lighting were sitting at the table in front of us and went wild when they won.

Grainne announced from the stage the Community Contribution award and some Bozo wearing Monsters Inc shoes made his way to the stage to receive it.

He was asked about being involved in community activities and in reply he said “ The great thing about Monaghan was that you only ever had to ask for help once.” He went on to detail a project that he was involved in with Brenda Maxwell and Paul Smyth from Foroige on their ‘Youth Diversion Project’ and asking local businesses to show young kids around and tell them what they looked for in employees. Companies such as Combilift, Errigal Contracts, The Squealing Pig, Mullan Lighting, and Castle Leslie all took part. “That’s Monaghan” he said.

She asked about the Drumlin Giants project and he said that it was the most wonderful thing ever. He made up stories and got to share them in local schools and Marc Kelly turned them into actual things in Rossmore Park.

He didn’t think of it at the time, but he meant to say that when he is in schools telling kids about the Drumlin Giants he always tells them that “…stories become things.”

Grainne asked how he was involved in so much and he answered , honestly, that in everything he did there were always many more people involved, but he was better at taking selfies and his role was perceived as larger, nothing gets done on your own.

She complimented his shoes.

He levitated off stage, with a big swelled head on him.

He was congratulated by a lot of lovely people on his way back to his table and he was a little overwhelmed himself. His Soulmate hugged him.

He was a very, very happy Bozo.



P.S. This is Reward by Teardrop Explodes

P.P.S. A few weeks ago The Pogues tweeted that Shane McGowan was poorly and if anyone had any good memories to please share them.

At some point in 1985 a strange thing happened. I was 18, at home on a Friday night and we were watching The Late Late Show. This was strange for two reasons. Friday evenings were usually spent in the Westenra Hotel, in the Video Disco Bar, and we never watched The Late Late at home because of Dad’s intense dislike of Gay Byrne, the host.

The Pogues came on and sang ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’ and I was mesmerised.

The next day I went to Devine’s Record Shop on Dublin St. and bought the ‘Rum, Sodomy, & The Lash’ album on tape and played it incessantly. The artwork on the cover was so cool that I went back the following Saturday and bought the vinyl just to have a bigger image of it.

Months later, anytime I was travelling anywhere with my friends, we’d end up singing Pogue’s songs.

But this was the memory I shared with The Pogues a few weeks ago.

In December 1986 The Pogues were playing two nights , Friday and Saturday, in St.Francis Xaviers Hall , known as the SFX, in Dublin. A bunch of us bought tickets for both nights.

My best friend Micky and I were working at home, all the rest were at college in Dublin, so we were tasked with bringing up the beer for the weekend. We borrowed Pat McCormick’s orange and black Ford Avenger just before lunch on the Friday to drive across the border to Middletown to get 7 cases of beer, 168 cans of Harp and Heineken. We stashed the beer in the boot and drove back through the British Army checkpoint and were pulled over into the shed for a car check.

Micky’s Dad, Pat, was a dog man. He bred Labrador’s, and was a regular guest at shoots around the border. Micky’s Mum, Kitty, hated the dogs being in the boot, so Pat had got made a special metal box that fitted neatly into the boot of the Avenger, moulded to fit over the wheel arches to allow maximum space for the dogs. And beer , on this occasion.

It was very odd.

The soldiers certainly thought it was very odd.

In 1986, being thought of as odd was not a good position to be in in a British Army checkpoint on the border.

And we had to be back in Monaghan to catch the 2.15 pm McConnon’s Bus to Dublin.

Micky and I were split up and taken to opposite ends of the shed and quizzed independently about what the box was for.

We both said “Dog’s.” And I asked if they could hurry this up , as we had to catch McConnon’s bus. This seemed to clearly demonstrate to the soldiers that we were idiots, and they let us go. We tore down the road and got Pat to drop us around to the bus where we loaded the 7 cases of beer into the luggage hold.

Muskie, Mark, Fintan, Ciaran, and Cyril met us outside the Gresham Hotel on O’Connell St. where McConnon’s bus stopped and we trundled off, each carrying a tray of cans to Muskie and Fintan’s house in Grace Park Heights where we had aperitifs, shotgunning cans, before we headed off to the gig.

We made our way up to the front and spent a blissful two hours going wild and being flung about in the crowd before walking home , high as kites on the energy of the gig.

And we got to do it all again the following night.

We were braver this time, held our place at the front, and when Shane started to sing ‘Dirty Old Town’ we hoisted Fintan onto the crush barrier and he jumped on stage. Shane grabbed him and threw his arms around him and continued singing. Fintan gave him a cigarette, and sang along. When the song finished Shane picked up the bottle of wine he had at base of the microphone, took a swif and handed it to Fintan, who pulled down his sleeve and wiped the top of the bottle before taking his swig. Shane looked on in mock horror. There were cheers and boos. Shane bowed to Fintan and then two bouncers came from opposite sides of the stage and grabbed Fintan.

At any other gig I’ve been at , before , or since, the stage crasher is escorted off stage and quietly removed. At this gig the bouncers simply swung Fintan nack and forth and then flung him off the stage back into the crowd.

It was EPIC !

Thanks Shane.

God Bless.

A Pair Of Brown Eyes

Author: paul

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