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Thurles & The Case Of The Smuggled GHD

Thurles Cathedral

Thurles Cathedral

The old monk Friar Francis, as he was affectionately known in his Franciscan Priory in New York, was returning to Thurles, Tipperary, flying Ryanair to Shannon airport. Unable to obtain his preferred window seat due to his late booking, he found himself seated beside the isle, on one side and a very attractive but rather glum faced, young woman with whom he had not yet become acquainted, seated next to the window.

Friar Francis missed not having his normal window seat, but the unexpected and sudden death of his brother had provoked this hurried reason to return to his native Tipperary. Speed was of the essence, as his brother’s funeral Mass in Thurles Cathedral was being delayed, awaiting his arrival.

Friar Francis closed his tired eyes, welcoming the silence emanating from his female co-passenger. His thoughts drifted back to his early youth. He remembered the one and only chastisement he had ever received from his long dead mother. It was for telling lies and he could still almost feel the painful sting from that unexpected wet dishcloth, which had made contact with his right ear. His mother, as she tucked him into bed later that night, had explained that her sudden wet dishcloth assault was meant to act as a future painful reminder and a deterrent. “Lying is unacceptable,” she had explained, after all “What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,” she had continued.

The subject of his then deceit had been formulated around some stolen apples removed from Mrs Ryan’s orchard next door, which he remembered were of the hard green cooker variety and uneatable anyway, but the good Friar had been careful to never lie in the true sense, after that fateful date.

As he explored this now long past memory, behind his closed eyelids, the Friar was aware of the Central Remedial Clinic’s (CRC) scandal back in Ireland, sure the world knew about it, but lies come under several category headings, there are fraudulent greedy lies like CRC, slanderous lies and there are even truthful lies, the latter to which in two hours time he would knowingly now become a participant.

About two hours into the journey his thoughts of those happier times, now gone forever, had continued to flow.  He was remembering his last meeting with his now deceased brother, when suddenly his meanderings were interrupted by the here-to-fore silent attractive female, who now, out of the blue, turned to him and asked in a whisper; “Father, may I ask a very great personal favour?”

Somewhat amused by the young lady addressing him as ‘Father, Friar Francis smiled and then stated “Of course child. What may I do for you?”  “Well, Father, I bought my mother a very expensive GHD hair straighteners, while shopping yesterday in New York. It’s for her 60th birthday next week actually.” she whispered.

“Really, that’s great,” said Friar Francis yawning. “Remember child; always be nice to your mother. We should never ignore our parents, time passes so quickly and then they are gone, nothing but guilty memories tend to exist.” he continued.

“Oh I do Father, I do, but this GHD is unopened, still in the original box and well-over my limits for imported goods and I’m afraid Father that Customs will confiscate it. Is there any way maybe you could carry it through customs for me?” enquired the young lady in pleading tones. “Sure you could hide it easily under your habit maybe?”

Friar Francis thought for a moment or two in silence. Could this package contain illegal drugs? Images of a trained drugs sniffer dog identifying him at the ‘Arrivals Gate,’ flashed upon his inward eye. Yet this young lady looked innocent enough and after all she had remembered her mother’s birthday. Hardly the kind of action one would expect from a girl operating as a professional ‘Drug Mule’ for some as yet unrecognised Columbian drugs cartel.

“I would love to help you child, but however I must warn you, if your gift is identified on my person, I will not lie to Customs Officers on your behalf, to save your skin.” replied the kindly old Monk. “There exists already, too much dishonesty abounding in this rotten world of ours.”

“Thanks Father, God bless you, sure with your honest face, no one will hardly question you,” replied the young lady, releasing a sigh of relief.

Taking the rectangular box slipped to him by his new acquaintance, from her hand luggage and checking that the Stewardess was otherwise occupied, Friar Francis now slid the article up the long sleeve of his habit and adjourned to the toilet, where he then placed it securely into the elastic band of his underpants, before returning to his seat.

When they both arrived at Customs in Shannon, the young lady agreed to let the priest go ahead of her. The beady eyed Customs Official halted the Friar and asked, “Sir, do you have anything to declare?”

“From the top of my head down to my waist I have nothing to declare.” smiled the Monk, looking somewhat deviously, yet directly into the eyes of the questioning Customs man.
Thinking this a rather strange answer, the vigilant now smiling Customs Official, tongue in cheek, asked the Monk, “And Sir do you have anything to declare from your waist down to the floor?”

“I do, I have a marvellous instrument designed to be used only on women, but which to date remains unused.” replied the grinning Friar.

Roaring with laughter and with a wave of his hand the Customs Official replied, “You are good, go ahead Sir, – Next customer please.”

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