The Tadhgs That Bind

“It’s postcard, I’m settled, a pirate no more

A gypsy at most with no mortgage

It’s boring but in the most exquisite of ways
No carcinogenic and humdrum malaise
And it’s strange, all the things that I’ve run from
Are the things that completeness could come from”

  • David Le’aupepe

This week has seen me enter the 4th and final cycle of my Chemolympics. On Wednesday I had my last ‘double dose’, which was my 10th treatment overall. And this evening my Soulmate gently stabbed me in my tummy with the last of my white blood cell growth stimulator injections. I have two treatments left over the next two Wednesdays and then a short break before my operation.

I’ve thought a lot about my fellow Chemolympians, friends from the past and present, all unconnected to each other, except through me. Denise, my Trinity course colleague, wonderful artist, whose summer popsicle painting hangs in our kitchen, and who the otter is named after in my recent award winning ‘Trouble Murphy’ short story. Pat, my fellow wild dog of footwear retailing. At one time he owned 4 shops around Dublin, and I sold him Skechers. We always ended up in eachother’s company at trade fairs in Germany and the UK. We played a bit of golf, but annoyed everyone else by not taking it seriously. I managed to help him and Santa out one year when I got him an original Buzz Lightyear months after they were sold out everywhere. I’d actually bought two, and wanted one for myself. When I told him I had one, he asked immediately for another as his son’s cousin had asked for one as well and his parents would have a devil of a job explaining why Santa didn’t love him as much as his cousin. We had many a late night in many fine restaurants, sometimes with our Soulmates, sometimes only the two of us. Glory days.

And Tadhg.

For my English and Yankee readers Tadhg is an old Celtic name that’s pronounced the same as Tiger, but without the r sound at the end.

I seem to have known Tadhg all of my adult life. He is married to SoulMate’s wonderful Aunty Maureen and lives in a hill, two hills across from another hill that overlooks Carrigadrohid, which is close to Macroom, but isn’t really.

I’m quite sure I knew Tadhg’s son Mark before I knew Tadhg. Mark was convalescing in my SoulMate’s mother’s house for a few months after a motorbike crash. We went for pints…regularly.

I assume I met Tadgh for the first time at a Clerkin wedding. Tadhg’s wife and my Soulmate’s mother were originally Clerkins, there’s a lot of them and they loved weddings, which in turn were always big weddings because there were a lot of them.

Tadhg and I met at one such wedding. He bought me a drink for looking after Mark.

We seemed to bump into each other a lot after that.

A few years later Mark’s younger brother Barry got a job in Monaghan and he stayed with my SoulMate’s mother for the two years he was here. We became firm friends. Later still we ended up buying our first homes in Clane and would socialise regularly together with Barry’s sister Anne Marie who lived nearby in Celbridge. Our partners all got along famously and we had dinner in each other’s company and only ever fell out over board games. Anne Marie’s partner Gerry can be a tad competitive!

With a son and a daughter living close to each other Tadhg and Maureen were regular visitors.

When my Soulmate’s brother Stephen got married to Maria, for some mildly insane reason, he asked me to be his best man. It was the first wedding for us both. People immediately started asking was I not nervous about the speech. This began to prey on my mind…a lot. I’d never spoken in public before, and didn’t know too many people going apart from Stephen’s immediate family. There would be another 30 or so people that I vaguely knew and then 100 or so that I didn’t know at all.

I didn’t sleep the night before the wedding …this was a combination of nerves and Stephen’s snoring! The wedding ceremony went off without a hitch and we all made our way to the Ostan Gweedore for the reception. I couldn’t eat a thing at the meal, and thought we’d never get to the speeches. Eventually the desserts were being served and I stood up to speak, and then saw that half the crowd had left the reception to go and take photos of Mary Robinson, our recently elected President…the bastards!

I thought of running away.

Eventually Mary left and they all took their seats again, and we started the speeches. I got through mine. I remember very little of it, just that I ‘d started by telling how Stephen and Maria had met as students in Galway. Stephen and his housemates called to Maria’s house asking to borrow a potato peeler. I finished my speech by congratulating Stephen on marrying the finest looking potato peeler in Gweedore!

After the speech Tadhg came up to me grabbed my hand and shook it ferociously, and just said “Brilliant ! Best speech I’ve heard. Brilliant !” then he let go of my hand and walked away, saying to people at various tables that he passed “Wasn’t that speech brilliant ?” pointing back at me.

I was 10 feet tall !

I hadn’t written a single thing since leaving school until that speech. Looking back now, I think I can say with a fair degree of honesty that Tadhg’s handshake encouraged me to continue.

So, yes, it’s all his fault!

In Celtic culture the name Tadhg signifies a poet or a philosopher.

Most people would say that Tadhg is a man of few words…and ‘a few’ is probably being over generous.

We have met on many occasions. Our conversations start in one of three different ways :

One – “Well Paul.” This is a friendly greeting and signifies that we are well disposed to each other and I can talk to him about anything.

Two – “Well now Paul” This is also a friendly greeting , but carries some implication that I’ve done something that may need explanation.

Three – “Paul Bond !” This is said in a slightly admonishing tone, which means he’s heard something that I’ve done that he’s mildly shocked by, and definitely requires explanation.

Regardless of how they start I do most of the talking. Tadhg is a great listener.

One of our best ever chats took place in 2013 when we went to stay with Tadhg and Maureen in Cork for Maureen’s 70th. We were very honoured to be invited and headed off from Monaghan, collecting Geraldine in Dublin Airport on the way. We took the kids as we knew that all Mark, Barry ,Anne Marie, Damien, Paul and  Martin’s kids would be there. Maureen and Tim’s house is built onto the side of Gerry and Anne Marie’s house, so this is where the party would be. It was a beautiful day, and the kids were banished outside while the house and food were prepared. I went outside to the kids and obviously started a water fight. It was a great water fight.

There are a number of things that make a water fight a truly great water fight.

One – Water.

Two – Kids in their best clothes, dressed for a special occasion, and not a water fight.

Three – Adults/parents getting vexed and annoyed at the fun we’re having,

It was an EPIC water fight.

Tadgh laughed…mostly at how annoyed Barry and Gerry were when I started running through the house to use the kitchen tap to fill bottles for the fight.

Later that night when everyone had calmed down and eventually gone to bed, Tadgh and I sat in his sitting room and chatted …and drank until dawn. Maureen came down to join us at about 2.00am, and chased us to bed before the others began to get up for breakfast.

We discussed his kids, my kids, life, wedding we were at, memories from his life, and woven through it all was his philosophy.

This came back to me this week.

I watched ‘My Neighbour, Totoro’, an amazing film, which you can catch on Netflix. Totoro reminded me of someone. It was only when Satsuki passes an umbrella to Totoro at the bus stop and he smiles that I figured it out. Totoro is Tadhg.

And all week I’ve had Gang of Youth’s song ‘Do Not Let Your Spirit Wain’ rattling around my head. It’s made me think of Denise, Pat, but mostly Tadhg, whose philosophy it puts to music…the good bits, not the sad bit.

I’ve also been writing a new story which involves a small terracotta sphinx, which may be of Hapsshepsut, Wuxing philosophy, and Monaghan. A bit of it follows this in the P.S.s if you‘re reading the blog email…and if not, why aren’t you signed up???



P.S. If you look closely at the photo used to illustrate this, you’ll notice that the amazing Gerry Wynne has replaced Mei with me under Satsuki’s umbrella.

P.P.S This is Gang Of Youth’s , and Tadhg’s, “Do Not Let Your Spirit wain

P.P.S A work in progress

As Yet Untitled

For information Only

Wuxing – cosmic change agents , with two orders :

One – Female, Mother Son, Generating

Wood feed Fire

Fire produces Earth

Earth bears Metal

Metal carries Water

Water nourishes Wood

Two – Make , Grandfather Son, Destruction

Wood drains Water

Water rusts Metal

Metal impoverishes Earth

Earth smothers Fire

Fire burns wood


He had a window seat and as the plane took off for New York, two empty seats in his row. Heaven. He flicked though the channels on the little screen in the hearrest in font of him and settled on a series he’d heard others talking about. He struggled through the first two episodes, and was half asleep when she asked :

“Are you a fan ?”

She was sitting in the outside seat in his row. He must have been asleep when she took her seat , maybe after the plane took off, and she fancied a bit more room , he thought.

He took out his earphones.

“No, not really, I’d heard of it before , but never really got into it.”

“Well switch if off and watch something else. That’s series three and it will ruin it for you if you don’t watch it from the start.”

“I’m not sure I’ll ever sit down to watch it from the start.”

“Oh you will. With me in St.Louis.”   

He opened his mouth to say something…and stayed that way for a moment staring at her. She was smiling at him. She wore a simple black cord necklace with a single small bead of polished wood on it. They were on a flight to New York, they’d never met, how did she know he was going to St.Louis. Eventually he blurted out “Have we met ?”

She put her hand dramatically on her heart  and said in mock hurt “Really Paul ???”

I was very confused and started to stumble out an apology.

She took her hand from her heart and placed it on my hand, giving it a playful squeeze.

“Relax, I heard you saying to the loady at checkin that you were going on to St.Louis. I’m only teasing you. Here “ she handed him a book.

“Adventures In Time And Space” – a history by Helen Jane Wycherly, adventurer, horologist, and expert childrens shoe fitter 9 Clarkes ), and wearer of fine brogues.

“Read then you’ll be ready to read  that seies from the start… with me in St.Louis.” She winked at him, put her headphones on, reclined her seat and closed her eyes.

He looked at the book, turned to the blurb at the back, the photo of HJ Wycherly on the back was definitely this lady sitting two seats away.

He started to read the introduction, and the was halfway through Chapter 1, when he dozed off.

 He dreampt about the day his Granda had taken him to the old farm in Dernaseil. He was 9. No one had lived there for many years, and it as used to store the bits and bobs that Granda needed to look after the potatoes he grew in the front field and the cattle he fattened over the summer in the back field.It smelt of fertilizer and rusting barbed wire. They would make a cup of tea and sit at the old table. Before they left Granda would go the the press , built into the wall, to the left of the range. He put back the cups they’d used on the bottom shelf and then reached for the top sheld wher he took down something wrapped in very old newspapers and tied with string.

He placed it on the table , carefully unwrapped it and looked at it for a moment.

A small six inch long and four inch high terracotta shinx.

His Granda picked it up and gently shook it.

Something rattled inside.

His Granda smiled and rewrapped it and put it back on the top shelf.

He did this every time they visited and when asked what was in it , would only say “I’ll tell you when you’re ready.”

 He was woken by the steward asking if he wanted the inflight meal, he only noticed that his companion was gone , as he lowered the tray to accept the meal. He assumed she’d moved back to her original seat. He devoured the meal, dozed off again and then they were landing at JFK. He tried to get back into Chapter 1, but it was a bumpy descent , so he prayed instead.

He never hurried to get his bag from the overhead, or stand in the crowded aisle, content o wait were he was and catch up with everyone at  baggage reclaim. He didn’t see her in the aisle as the other passengers filed off.

He waited at the baggage carousel for twenty minutes after he’d collected his own bag, but their was no sign of HJ Wycherly. She must have transferred directly to a St.Louis flight. He was staying for two days in New York with his great friend John Baronian.

John was waiting for him when he left baggage reclaim.

“Good flight ?”

“Interesting flight.”

Author: paul

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