Extract From ‘Irish Roadside Trifles’ Published In 1929 By T. O’Gorman.

The Angelus.

When about halfway on the high road between Dublin and Cork, I decided to have tea in the Cathedral town of Thurles and I said, “When thus refreshed, I shall think nothing of the 73 mile journey from there to the southern capital”.

These thoughts were in my mind, when a young girl on a bicycle came in the opposite direction and after looking at me, blessed herself as she was passing. “Now that’s queer” I said. “I wonder why she blessed herself; have I frightened her in any way? Would the devil by any chance have momentarily thrown his shadow over me and caused her to shelter behind the armour of that protecting sign”.
Certainly he has been busy in these parts; yonder is the mountain called by his name, (referring to the Devil’s Bit) and which so unmistakably bears his mark.
I felt anxious, and no wonder: but then I taught again on my journey, and looking at my watch I saw that the minute hand was just past the stroke of six, and I at once saw the explanation: it was the Angelus.
My hearing is not so good, and I did not hear the bell; but I have no doubt when she was passing there came floating through the air from the spire in Templemore, the sound of the evening bell, which she promptly answered by her act of homage. I was glad that the incident turned out to be so edifying, and that Satan was not playing any of his tricks.

In no place is this beautiful custom of saying the Angelus prayer more observant than in County Tipperary, and particularly in the town of Thurles, to which I was then traveling. There the great bell has a persuasive power that will not be denied. A tuneful time announces the solemn toll; and then work ceases, and heads our bared, and men’s minds are turned to the opening act in the great scheme of the redemption: when an angel visiting a house in Galilee saluted the occupant “Hail Mary”. Men at street corners drop their conversation on the scarcity of occupation and on the price of stout and tobacco, and turn their minds to the object of this heavenly visitor.
When doing business with the shopkeeper you will find that he suddenly ceases talking and when looking up to see why your question is unanswered, you will find him with bowed head saying the Angelus prayer.

Jean-François Millet’s painting of ‘The Angelus’, completed during the summer of 1857 just after the ending of the Great Irish Great Famine (1845-52). The painting’s initial title was ‘Prayer for the Potato Crop’.

The custom is poetical and appealing; and perhaps no picture has more copies than Millet’s famous “Angelus,” (Jean-François Millet 1814–1875), where he portrays two field workers with bowed heads and clasped hands, engaged in prayer.
A copy of this picture was the subject of my contemplation when on one occasion I was waiting in a room in the palace at Thurles, and I thought it a very suitable picture for that place.
I also saw on the same occasion, outside in the back lawn, two large bells hanging on a low suspension rack over a platform of cement. It looked as if this place of honour was their reward after long service. And so it was, for only eight miles away, but hundreds of years ago, they proclaimed the Angelus hour for the peace abiding monks, who on the other side of the Suir Valley, ere the steep sides of Slieveardagh hills are reached; built their Abbey church; and there for many years those bells controlled their working and their praying hours. But disruptive days set in, and the Iconoclasts* of that time cast the bells from the belfry tower, and as things of evil, made some earth cavern or river bed their ignoble burial place. But in time their good angel brought them to the light of the day and now at Thurles, in quiet seclusion in the Cathedral shade, they faintly vibrate in sympathy with the great bells overhead.

*Iconoclasts meaning a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration and who attacks settled beliefs or institutions.

In this Cathedral the Waterford born operatic composer William Vincent Wallace spent a time as organist. And falling under the influence of the Angelus, he introduced into his opera Maritana, the beautiful Angelus scene, where the chorus, as Spanish peasants sing, so appealingly, the words: “See us kneel and hear us pray”. The Spanish are as faithful to the Angelus call as we Irish, and this is but natural; for where we not the same people as one time? Was it not from the sunny lands of Spain that the proud Milesians set sail in their good ships to this, their Isle of Destiny, to use a new combination of Moore’s well-known words. And though the more northern climate may have changed us somewhat, yes in fundamentals we are like our Spanish cousins and particularly in our loyalty to the Angelus bell.

While the bells of Thurles have this compelling power, the Cathedral has a mysterious influence; for as one enters one beholds emerging out of the gloom, pierced by stained glass rays a magic structure. Gently the gloomy veil rolls off and then come into view pillars and many arches; the far distant double-sided altar circled by the spacious Ambulator; the side altars with their splendid statues; and last, the vaulted covering overhead. The Cathedral, as it were, unveils itself for each visitor, comes forth to meet one, inviting you to stay and pray. This is the result of the peculiar light in the place; just that mixture of daylight and gloom which gives a vagueness that is associated with the idea of mystery and beauty.

The builders of the Thurles Cathedral, understanding the value of this, and seeing its effect in a church in Italy, wisely decided to reproduce it in Thurles by copying the Italian Church. And crowning their work, they hung in the lofty campanile the splendid bells, whose brass tongues persistently and untiringly compel men’s minds to ponder on the Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation.


Christmas Coffee Morning, Cashel Library.

Note: For admission to this most welcome of Christmas events, booking is essential, so please do contact Cashel Library in advance on Tel: 062 63825 to confirm your attendance.

[ You may locate the Cashel Library building, situated on Friar Street, Lady’s Well, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, HERE. (G487+RX) ].


Home For The Christmas

Home For The Christmas – A short story from the pen of Thurles Co. Tipperary, poet and author Tom Ryan.

Home For The Christmas ©

It was just a small town in a small country, but in that town beat ten thousand hearts, each with his own book to write; each unique, with thoughts, feelings, doubts, hopes, frustrations, dreams and dreams shattered. On this Christmas Eve, like many other Irish towns, it was like a picture postcard; with its wide, spacious, traffic-jammed main street, and its monuments to dead heroes, lying covered with a thick mantle of snow and ice.

The bells in the little church were summoning the populace from the Christian community, to a Christmas Carol Service. Last-minute shoppers were slipping and slithering from cosy, brightly lit, damp-floored shops, latter packed with hardy rural folk, almost contemptuous of the weather, and urban townsfolk, all excited and exchanging seasonal greetings with one another.

In the hotel on the main street, there in the cosy bar, one man drank alone.

This worst-case scenario was indeed quite a feat; for just about everybody drinks together or at least in smaller groups, in a small town on Christmas Eve. All troubles and daily problems are generally swept aside, like the icy, slushy snow outside, while that rare, but precious, Christmas warmth and conviviality, takes precedence over all else.

The man who drank alone was in his late sixties, a somewhat medium sized man, wearing silver-rimmed glasses; behind the lens of which were grey misty blue eyes that stared somewhat indifferently at a pint glass of Guinness. It was his first drink since he had alighted from the train that morning. He brushed a few remaining, now melting snowflakes from off his tweed overcoat, on the seat beside him.
He had thought about this trip home only about a week before after he had buried his wife, Biddy, back there in New York city. The loneliness swept over him now again, as he envisioned her as she had been when he had met her at a céili in a rural hall, not many miles from the warm setting, wherein he now sat. He clearly recalled that the year in question was 1944, just before D–Day, and it was around Christmas time, too.

That old man of hers had never approved of his darling daughter, Biddy; her being a farmer’s daughter, wishing to get hitched up with a scallywag of a farm labourer. It was after many rows, that they had decided to run away secretly, in order to get married. He smiled thinly now at the memory, but in that chosen new ‘Land of the free’, they had somehow made it, though never rising to massive heights in the dollars stakes. They continued to warm to one another and even more so, as the years came and went, although they were never blessed with children.

Thirty five years, God, how the old country had changed, he thought. So modern and alive; a modernity that made him feel a little out of touch. He noted the wall-to-wall carpets in the hotel bar, the television blaring and flashing to a heedless audience, and the screaming kids with their folks close-by. So brazen, these kids! You knew your place in his day, and you didn’t talk unless you were spoken to. You may not have had a great education, but in his day, you did learn manners and thanks to the school Master you did learn your three basic Rs.

Oh, what the hell was he doing in this town. It was a strange land to him after all these years, especially without his beloved Biddy. It was just a tale of two cities now that he no longer felt acquainted with. He had left New York to find reminders of a previous world; his and Biddy’s young world, and gardens where it seemed roses grew all year round cottage doors; where they kept on meeting at dances and where they had fallen in love and stormed wildly at the world. God-damn it; he felt suddenly embarrassed at the realisation, and he was now weeping, unable to conceal or hold back his tears.

“You all right, sir?” He became aware that the young voice, which carried the sound of true concern, came from that of a young woman of about twenty five years old and she had placed an arm on his shoulder. For some inexplicable reason, she seemed vaguely familiar to him.
“Oh, I was just remembering, thank you,” he sniffled.
“Yes, it is a time for remembering, isn’t it,” the girl said.

She was dark-haired, with eyes to match, a creamy skin, tall and well cut, wearing a black skirt with white blouse, and looking like a movie star, rather than an Irish small town girl. She carried a bright blue anorak on her arm.

“You from around here?” she asked, though, he felt, not in any idly, inquisitive tone.
He was composed now and grateful for the young woman’s interruption of his feelings and thoughts.
He grinned, “Funny, I’ve been figuring that, I just come in from New York”.
“An American?”, she volunteered.
“Yeah, I guess sort of, although I was born here, outside town. My wife, she was born here too. First time home in thirty five years.” He now found it odd that he should use that word ‘home’.
“Have a drink?” he said.
“No, thanks very much”, she replied, adding “I don’t drink. I’m just waiting for my mother to come out from the interdenominational Carol Service in the local church, so I can drive her home.”
“You’re a good girl.” he said and he meant it.
She laughed. “Try to tell that to my mum. She thinks… ”
The girl considered a moment before continuing, “Well, there’s no work around here, you know and I want to go to the States. I’d like to be a model. But mammy thinks it’s so far away. Kevin, my boyfriend, is not happy about it either; I mean it’s only a few hours away by airplane, but sure you must know that.”
“And what does your daddy think?” he queried.
A shadow came across her face. “He died last year. There’s only mum and me now.”
“You and your mother. You get on all right?” he further queried.
The young woman suddenly shook with laughter. “Oh, yes! Like a house on fire. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s the greatest mother in the world. I guess she’s sad after dad. She misses him terribly.”
The elderly man took another sip from his pint before declaring, “Loneliness is a terrible thing.”
“I suppose so, but she’s got so many friends: The ICA, the Drama Group, the Sodality, the Chess Club; she simply knows everybody”, she replied
Again, the elderly man thought there was something so familiar about the young woman’s face. He wished he could place it and then, suddenly in a flash, it came to him and he remembered.

A wild teenager who had got up to devilment everywhere together with his love Biddy. What was her name? Gertie, Gertie McDonald. But she had gone to become a nun above in Dublin, at the time when he had left town. Surely …?”
He addressed the young woman; “I don’t think I got your name, Miss?”
“Margie, Margie Dwyer. No, not O’Dwyer, we o nothing to no one”, she laughed. “But they call me Margie McDonald, because I resemble my mother so much”, she continued.
Just then a stout, rather flushed, fur-coated, vivacious woman came into the bar, entering from the foyer. The years had not so changed her that he didn’t immediately recognise that swaggering, bold stride.
“Why if it isn’t Jack Ryan,” the girl’s mother whooped, after staring briefly at the elderly man in her daughter’s company.
“Gertie, I thought you were a nun in Dublin, a Mother Superior at least by now,” he quipped, as he rose to warmly shake her hand.
“Oh, after two years I discovered I had no vocationI suppose. But, Jack Ryan-after all these years. How are you at all?” she queried. Then, in a lower tone, “I am so sorry, Jack. I heard about poor Biddy.”
“I know,” he acknowledged the sympathy “and you had your own troubles too I’ve just learned”.
She nodded. “And what in God’s name brings you home after all these years. The auld sod must now be strange to you.”
“Oh, not really. I have found a kind, young friend here,” he smiled, patting the young woman’s arm.
“So, you have met Margie. What a coincidence, so where are you staying, Jack?”
“Here in the hotel, Gertie, up in Room 89″ he replied.
“Ah, now, Jack”, Gertie replied. “Not in a hotel room at Christmas. You’ll come out to the farm with Margie and me. At our age there will be no auld talk of scandal. You know me, Jack. Gertie knows her own kind and goes her own way, which or whether. Them that mind don’t matter and them that matter don’t mind.”

There was a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. An older Gertie had not changed a bit, he thought. Always, like his Biddy, pure independent. “Sure, we’ll go down memory lane and do some great tracing together. Maybe kill a few whiskies into the bargain.” She winked at him cheekily.
“You’re an awful woman,” he grinned.
“Now, Jack, you’ll be a guest in our home and welcome. Sure, you’re auld stock, an auld townie, one of our own and a neighbour.” She winked again: “And a little more, if you remember rightly, maybe.” He smiled at the recalling of a pleasant night he and Gertie had spent at a cross-roads platform dance one warm summer’s night, before he had first become acquainted with Biddy.

Throughout all this, young Margie Dwyer had remained dutifully silent, but visibly pleased to see her mother come alive again, like she had not been for some long, long time. Her modelling work in New York did not now have that same great urgency for her and she realised possibly for the first time an amazing fact; that work, though paramount, was not the only important thing in life, not when hearts were one, warm, kind and caring.
Right now the girl felt suddenly at home; yes, really at home again, and it was Christmas, and she would think of modelling and New York city at another time. Now where would she find boyfriend Kevin on a Christmas Eve? She wanted to tell him all about this.
Jack looked around him in the bar, as a hundred hands offered to help him with his suitcase.
“I’ll take you up on that offer, Gertie Dwyer, and grateful to you I am for it.” he said
The young woman, cheeks now glowing with great warmth, said: “Merry Christmas, Mr Ryan”.
Jack Ryan put one arm around the young woman’s shoulders and another around her mother’s waist, and, with great joy and a feeling that life was truly wonderful after all, he replied: “Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.”


Science Events For Aged 6+ In Cashel Library.

Science Events for Aged 6+ In Cashel Library – Ms Maura Barrett, (Cashel Library) Reports:-

Two Science Week events are taking place in Cashel Library, this coming week, on dates Wednesday 15th and 16th of November 2023.

The first Science Week event will take place in Cashel Library, on Wednesday, November 15th, when “Professor Egghead”, aka Jay Ryan, will celebrate the wonder of Science, by exploring the air around us.
The programme targets young people aged 6 years plus and will begin at 3:30pm running until 4:15pm

The second Science Week event entitled “How Science Could Help You Be Superhuman”, takes place also in Cashel Library, on Thursday November 16th, in association with Mary Immaculate College and Tipperary Festival of Science.
This programme begins sharp at 4:00pm.

Note: For admission to both programmes booking is essential, so please do contact Cashel Library in advance on Tel: 062 63825.

[ You can locate the Cashel Library building, situated on Friar Street, Lady’s Well, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, HERE. (G487+RX) ].


Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 – Thoughts On Depression.

Hereunder, Paterson Joseph reads Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29: “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes.”

What do you tell a friend who is suffering from depression: ‘It’s OK for you to NOT feel OK’. ‘You can continue to move forward in the face of your depression’. ‘I’m here for you, no matter what’. ‘Help is available’ and your story isn’t fully over’.
But sometimes such advice and encouragement is not enough, so it is important to get across the message that we all feel depressed during many stages in our life and in living. ‘You’re not alone’, can offer more comfort sometimes to those depressed, as in the realisation, that “the man with no shoes can often meet the man with no feet.

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, was written possibly sometime between 1593 and 1601, and speaks of a character, possibly himself, who is in a serious state of depression, stating that when he meets with misfortune “disgrace with fortune” he feels disgraced in front of other men, “men’s eyes“. He weeps alone “alone be weep” and cries out to heaven, latter who appears to be deaf to his same appeals “deaf heaven with my bootless cries”, and he is now left feeling much self-pity and regret, cursing his situation “and curse my fate”.

He wishes, “wishing me”, that he was a man who had more hope, “one more rich in hope”, and wishes to be like those, “featured like him”, who are handsome and appear to have more friends, “him with friends possessed”.
He further wishes that he had been provided with another man’s skills, “desiring this man’s art”, or with someone else’s opportunities “that man’s scope”, which he now has set his heart on, but doesn’t have mastery over, thus making him unhappier, “what I most enjoy contented least”.

In spite of hating himself, “thoughts myself almost despising”, he thinks of this love, “I think on thee” and those thoughts now lift his heart like the lark in the early morning, “lark at break of day”, latter who flies upward towards the sky, as if to sing at the very gates of heaven itself, “hymns at heaven’s gate”.

He says thoughts of his love somehow bring him a sort of emotional peace, which in turn he compares to wealth, “sweet love remembered such wealth brings”, and that he would not wish to exchange this peace with the material wealth of kings “scorn to change my state with kings”.

Shakespeare – Sonnet 29.

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heav’n, with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate.
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.