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Keep Your Focus On Ireland’s Ancient East

New York publican, Mr Aekerman Jensen, had arrived into Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport. He was on a trip to Upperchurch in Co. Tipperary, in an attempt to chase down his ancestors, latter whom he believed had emigrated from Tipperary bound for the US on board the coffin ship “Ellen Simpson” in 1847.

Arriving here in Thurles for the first time on the 1.00pm Dublin to Cork train, he dismounted with his luggage from the carriage and looked around. His gaze became immediately focused on Mickey Ryan standing behind a long folding table on which were displayed an assortment of what looked like bleached human skulls.
“What are these?” asked Aekerman.
“Oh, I be selling real human skulls”, replied Mickey, “Sure as Fáilte Ireland have already told you in their adverts, this be part of promoting rural Ireland and promotin Ireland’s Ancient East.”

Aekerman suddenly recalled the Fáilte Ireland brochure he had picked up from the travel agents. It had read; “From ancient high kings to modern day poets, saints and scholars to ramblers and fishermen, Ireland’s Ancient East pulsates with legendary tales”.

“I never knew Thurles was in Ireland’s Ancient East” said Aekerman, inquiring further, “Do you have any skulls from ancient high kings, famous poets or saints?.”
Mickey raised his eyebrows “Sure don’t I have the skulls of the most famous of Irishmen that have ever lived.”
“That’s really great” said Aekerman, “Can you give me some names?.”
“Begod I can sir!” said Mickey, pointing to his varied collection, “That one there is St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, and that one there with the hole in it, is Mick Collins the man who won us our freedom back in 1922.”

Mickey continued “Sure the odd shaped one over there for example, is none other than James Joyce, a famous Dublin author and playwright, and that…..”
Aekerman interrupted, “Sorry but did you say St. Patrick?”
Begod that is correct sir” said Mickey with a knowing nod.
Aekerman again recalled the wisdom of Fáilte Ireland’s brochure promise, “Learn the stories of a place and you’ll come to understand the soul of its people”.
“I believe I will buy from you St. Patrick” said Aekerman, who immediately paid over the asking price of €3,000 in cash. But then as Mickey correctly explained later “If people want quality, they expect to pay for value.”

Aekerman flew back to New York a week later and proudly mounted the skull of St. Patrick’s on the wall in his Pub. People, especially from the ‘auld sod’, came from every America State to view this famous Skull, making him a small fortune and allowing him to retired early, a truly wealthy man.

It was during this retirement, some five years later, that Aekerman decided to come back to visit Ireland, Thurles, and Upperchurch, the source of his wealth, and to reconnect once more with his ancient ancestors.  Walking once again along the Thurles railway station platform, he spotted Mickey and his skull collection.
Anxious once more to get another bargain Aekerman asks “And what skulls do you have today?.”
“Sure begod, I have the skulls of the most famous Irishmen that ever lived” replied Mickey.
“Give me some names”, demanded Aekerman, beginning to tear some €50’s of a rather fat roll of paper currency.
“Well!” said the Irishman, pointing to various skulls. “That one there is Michael Collins, that one is James Joyce, and that one is St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, God bless his coming to Éire and the Rock of Cashel, and that one…

“Sorry” Aekerman interrupted, “But did you say St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland?”
“Begod, that’s correct!” said Mickey.
“Well”, said Aekerman, “I was here about five years ago and you sold me St. Patrick’s Skull.”
“Begod so I did” said Mickey beginning to place his wares quickly into the back of his van, “Sure don’t I remember you well … now … you see … ah … this scull here today actually is St. Patrick when he was just a boy.”


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