Can A “Blow- In” Be Ever One Of Us?

A story from the pen Of Author & Poet Tom Ryan, who calls for the immediate setting up of a Government Department for ‘Blow-ins’.
Tom ironically points out, tongue in cheek, that we have a Department for Foreign Affairs for Foreigners; some sort of Department of Internal Affairs for those residing here at home, but divil a Department for those unfortunate craythurs, better known in communities as ‘blow-ins’.

We invite you to read on.

Blowing in.

One of the most pathetic of rural institutions is that enigmatic personage known euphemistically as a ‘blow-in’.
I have spent the greater portion of my life attempting to define and rationalise the character of both the ‘blow-in’ and the people with whom he associates, the ‘Ould Stock’.

Firstly, the ‘blow-in’ is a citizen of no mean city and, presumably, of no good one either. Indeed, in retrospect, he is perhaps a tale of two cities, the one in which he was born and the other in which he is now a dark stranger, coming to live among natives.
He is an eternal wanderer, a socially-acceptable rambler, and his heart is restless. For he will never receive acceptance in his adopted abode, as in the manner of the native. After a certain period away from home, he will become a ‘blow-in’, within the confines of his own parish. Which or whether, he is a sorry loser.

Now, why the ‘blow-in’ should be such a slighted dignitary I do not know. But slighted he is. And I have known a wretch to devote some forty years of his time and talents to a parish, only to hear at his graveside: “Arrah, he was a ‘blow-in’, the craythur, but sure we will not hold that against the poor divil now.”
By the same token, I have heard a convicted blaggard righteously defended on the grounds that he was surely led astray by the ‘blow-ins’ of the parish, who should never have been allowed to set foot on native soil in the first place.
I have since learned that all goodness and virtue and graciousness is in the natives, and that every evil is inherent in the heart of a ‘blow-in’.

There is no middle course, and he, who would attempt to establish such a compromise is in dire danger of being found hanged in the haggard or worse still, of being sent to Coventry, like the very “blow-in” himself.

It is indeed, a serious matter, and little, if anything, is being done to remedy the situation. We have a Department for Foreign Affairs for Foreigners, some sort of Department of Internal Affairs for the ones at home, but divil a Department for the unfortunate craythurs referred to as “blow-ins”.

A great discrimination defies human rights, and we acquiesce in apathy and aloofness. We would sooner face a mad bull in a field than face up to this problem!

Rural society has many ways of sticking the ‘blow -in’s’ head into the muck, mud and manure. He could come into his new parish to teach, farm or just to inhabit a humble cottage and, if he is a teacher,he might be selected Secretary of the Parish Hall Renovation Committee or P.R.O of the Dramatic Society. Usually, he thinks he has made it in society if he progresses thus far to such an appointment. But, he is a right gomalog of a fool if he believes this. For he is only being used, and even a public ‘thank you’ for his efforts is tempered with the follow-through: “And he not even one of us.” No, the “blow-in” can never hope to win. He may as well try to sow barley on cement.

The ‘blow-in’ will seldom, if ever, play hurling for the parish. The parish would never have it said that they could not win by the sole efforts of the ash-wielders from the parish alone. No, faith, they would sooner be beaten into the ground by the neighbouring parish and be able to hold up their heads to declare: “We (natives and ould stock) did it OUR way“. Then they proceed to kick the head off the goalie for letting in 18 goals, in front of the ‘blow-in’ who, once upon a time, played inter-county for another county.

Alas, but in the country we set too much store on and attach too much importance to the vague notion of “knowing your place”. I think it may simply be an over-reaction, and a delayed over-reaction at that, to Diarmuid Mac Murrough going over to England and bringing back a brigade of “blow-ins,” who are still with us. Indeed, any of us could be a descendant of that brigade. But only the mighty-minded will believe the latter idea.
Yet, not all ‘blow-ins’ were treated with dishonour and disregard. Indeed, you might say that the greatest ‘blow-in’ of all, for whom the Gaels have the greatest reverence, was the rustic Welshman who is our National Saint – St Patrick. It is a matter of history that not a few of our most honoured and hallowed citizens in high places were born very far indeed from Dingle Bay and Malin Head.
In this controversial matter, the discussion of which is detrimental to people with blood pressure problems; blood is thicker than water. There are long horns on the cattle overseas, but what about the ones from the parish next door?
The world is a cantankerously peculiar place. But we have to live in it, somewhere. All the world is a stage but the ‘blow-in’ is never the hero. Always he is the anti-hero, who must invariably come to no good end. He is the perennial fall guy in the comedy of country manners and mindlessness.

The partner of mine who is a ‘blow-in’ (‘runner-in’, they say up there) in our parish from Dalkey , says sagely: “Honour and fame are no respecters of blow-inism; rather it is the person who matters”
Fair enough. But what happens when the ‘blow-in’ starts to run the parish and starts acting as if he owned the place, acting like a lord of the manor?
Dearie me – the disease is contagious. A native is an unnatural thing!

Tom Ryan, ”Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.


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