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November 26, 2017 / hbrowne4

Inisheoda by Geralyn Rownan Book Launch

Geralyn Rownan’s Book Launch is next Wednesday 29th November
All are welcome to come to a night of Literary excitement, music and Craic
An event not to be missed!
INISHEODA GR (1)
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November 13, 2017 / hbrowne4

The Sands of Arabia by Bridin Mary Harnett

AITO-Itran-Adventure-Tours

Spiritual resonances elevate. Perhaps not the most delectable of scenes as piles of sand line the roundabout devoid of earthly signals and drivers intuitively find their way about measuring space and proximity, until I, sitting comfortably in the rear of the bus, find myself within scraping distance of the van at the adjacent window and strangely without hearing the screeching of brakes, the bus manages to manoeuvre threads of coiled edges through the traffic, over the mount and into Hitten, Riyadh.

I live in a modern building, secured with lock and key and chain. A flight of stairs and a swimming pool adorn the ascent and the descent of the building. The staircase reminds me to rise with elegance across the wrought iron balustrade and coiled flowers remind me of reticent beauty. Until now there is so much to be explored and I traverse depths in my struggle to find acceptance and peace. Every weekend, colleagues filter back and forth from holy pilgrimage and reverence exudes light in the skyline in a sense of humble strength. The elegance of veiled women, their black shades cover the mysteries of the soul and heads are held high at the crown. There is no slink in delicate movement, somewhat constricted by the flow of yards of silken material and sensuality is hidden from eyes that should not see. Physical veils are empowering until the eyes of the spirit are attuned to see.

I live in two veils now, a coloured one and a black chiffon over veil which I draw over my face seeking radiant illumination. This is God’s land, the peninsula where God’s Prophets lived and died. Their resin is felt in the air I breathe as the sand grates the feet. The kindness of anchored soil does not exist here. But that which is lacking in the sense of the material world leads me to the subliminal as I look through the porous viscosity affronting material view. I am but a camel’s breath away at the speed of light. Then a meteor struck home at a devilish glare as the unseen is barely apparent. For everything is written on the head and is interpreted by those who know. Darkness emanates from the quietness as the curtains are drawn, until the lights are switched off to signify the sleep of night. And when the lights are out, movement flits outside and eyes watch in the darkness to see who looms there. Sat on hunkers, with arms folded, appointed to watch until the white threads of daybreak cleave the night sky apart, until it is rolled away and it covers night activity no more.
The night prayer calls and shops are shut down with metallic shutters in obedience and customers file outside.
The coda of the evening’s end.

November 7, 2017 / hbrowne4

Book Launch

Geralyn Rownan is launching her novel – Inisheoda in The Writers Centre on 29th November at 7 O’Clock. It is a Celtic Tale, richly imagined. A spellbinding read for lovers of myth, mystery and magic. We hope to see you all there.

See invitation below:
Flyer 01
November 5, 2017 / hbrowne4

Blackberries

Blackberries

Halloween Competition

Frank is an amiable sort of a guy who has an insatiable appetite for blackberries, raw, in pies, crumbles and especially in jam.
One day whilst out picking this delectable, and free fruit, he was accosted by an elderly gentleman.
“Hey” the old guy said, “you can’t pick blackberries after Halloween, they’ll kill you” Frank was a bit bewildered by this statement
“why would they kill me?“ he asked “I just ate a bushel of them yesterday and they did me no harm”
“But yesterday was October and today is November” said the old man “don’t you know that on Halloween night the Irish Fairies, called Pookahs, piss on the blackberry bushes and poison them”
“That’s just bullshit” said Frank and went on picking the fruit.
“O.K. be it on your own head” the old man said, and, turning on his heel, he walked slowly away.
Later that evening Frank was in the pub with his friend Billy. Telling Billy of his encounter with the old man Frank asked for his opinion.
“Funny you should ask that” said Billy, “I was looking up Wikipedia about something else last night and I came across a piece related to your story”.
“What was that” asked Frank.
“According to them blackberries should not be picked after Old Michaelmas Day (11 October) as the devil has claimed them, having left a mark on the leaves by pissing on them. It might have some sense behind it because wetter and cooler weather often allows the fruit to become infected by various molds which give the fruit an unpleasant look and may be toxic”.
Frank thought about the implications of these legends, not least the discrepancy between the dates. If the Devil had micturated on the blackberries on Michaelmas day, what was the point of the fairies doing so on Halloween?
“This seems to me” he said “to be a put-up job against, firstly the devil and also the Pookahs. In the first place I don’t know if the devil can, actually, urinate. He spends most of his time, if we are to believe our early teaching, in a very hot place and I think that any water source in that area would evaporate long before any poor bastard stuck in the “place or state of punishment” could manage to slake his thirst. Simple physics suggests that if no water is taken on board, then none can be discharged at the other end.
Anyway, I would have thought that the Devil would be busy enough trying to draw sinners into his clutches without diverting his time to this childish practice. As far as I know there are lesser devils whose function is to do the tasks which are not worthy of the prime Devil’s attention. Maybe he could put them to doing the job”.
Billy interjected at this point
“The story that the devil claims the blackberries for himself, especially after having pissed on them seems to me not very likely”
Frank called for a round of drinks and after downing a deep draft of Guinness he offered
“As far as the Pookahs are concerned the story is even more unlikely. The Devil has the reputation for having a physical manifestation and however unlikely, it is possible for him to piss on the blackberries, on the other hand, the Pookahs are without any physical attributes. It is impossible to see just how they would piss on the berry bushes even supposing they wished to”.
Another regular in the pub, overhearing their conversation butted in
“In my opinion both the devil and the Pookahs are the victims of a cynical media campaign which is designed to blacken their already tarnished reputations. I know that both villains in this tale are not very nice individuals, but there is, to my knowledge, no record of any witness to either of them pissing either on blackberries or on anything else”.
“You know what I think?” said Billy “I think that this story has been deliberately hatched up by apple tart bakers and cider makers in order to divert potential customers of their wares away from picking the luscious fruits which are available free for the picking in all the lanes and byways both in Britain and Ireland”.
By this time our gallant heroes were fairly far gone in drink. Frank proposed that they form an Association for the Propagation of the Truth Concerning Blackberries. This proposal was carried unanimously, and the first order of business was decided, namely, first thing tomorrow they would publish an appeal to all fair minded individuals to continue to pick and use blackberries as long as they do not display signs of worms, moulds, infestations or other obvious damage either from natural or supernatural causes, with a rider, also carried unanimously that the berries be washed before consumption, just in case, like.
Frank then turned to the third member of their group and said
“It’s your turn to get the drinks”

November 5, 2017 / hbrowne4

A Note to Mr Jenkins by Orla Ni Sheaghdha

I’m sorry Mr Jenkins,
If you misread my attentions.
I never meant, to misrepresent
My dishonourable intentions.

Your curly locks did you admire;
To great lengths did they aspire.
But now, alas, the day has passed
Since they did catch afire.

Your corvette evoked in you great pride,
Taken daily for its ride.
But dearie me! It hit a tree!
Now in the scrapheap does reside.

Hours spent you in your bed,
Eiderdown soft against your head.
Quelle shock! You gasped, when it collapsed;
Now the floor does in its stead.

Beautiful girls did you adore
Kissed and dated them by the score.
It wasn’t fun, when you met one
Who made your lips come out in sores.

Over alcohol used you rejoice
Whiskey, the poison of your choice.
How ironic, that too much tonic
Caused you then to lose your voice.

Joyful children in sport and game;
Brats! Your temper did they inflame!
Your blood had boiled, the game you spoiled
But rocks flew back and made you lame.

For George’s life had you green eyes,
Jealousy turned to despise.
You failed to ruin his world’s sweet tune
‘Twas you that got cut down to size!

I’m sorry Mr Jenkins,
If you misread my attentions.
I never meant to misrepresent
My dishonourable intentions.

October 31, 2017 / hbrowne4

Halloweens Past by Bernadette O’Reilly

Yesterday I was regaled by memories of Halloweens past.

Apples hanging from a ceiling

Peeling an apple, hoping for an initial to form from the peel.

Dressing up as all kinds of characters, knocking door to door after a dinner of colcannon.

Then gathering round a huge bonfire, the sky lit with fire-works.

A neighbour dressed as a hunchback one year.

People standing at their gate, in my mind I still see their faces.

Home again to eat apples, oranges, grapes, nuts, Halloween barmbrack…

The quietness of a house as I sat with an Aunt who was ill, no Halloween for me that year…

Rushing home another Halloween to see cousins who brought their one week old baby Trudi to visit.

My sister and I casting a spell to see would we dream of future husbands, I can still see the face in my

Dream.

Going to my first fancy dress disco, someone who ignored me many times before actually spoke, I seen

Him in a different light.

Helping to dress up my sister and her friend…

Children calling trick or treat…

Halloweens from childhood went flitting by, leaving me feeling sad.

It’s not Witch’s, Prince’s, Princesses, Ghosts, Dracula, Frankenstein, Wizards,

You will meet when walking along the street

Memories from the past will greet you.

October 30, 2017 / hbrowne4

Jack O ‘Lanterns by Brendan Palmer

Glasnevin

Halloween Competition

Twenty four year old David Harrison, educated at Blackrock College and recently graduated from UCD with a first class honours “Master of Law” degree had journeyed to the deep Northside of Dublin to meet some of his college friends in Kavanagh’s Pub, Prospect Square Phibsborough. Kavanagh’s is more famously known as “The Grave Diggers” because of its proximity to the eastern wall of Glasnevin Cemetery, so close in fact that legend has it that in times past pints of porter were passed through a hole in the pub wall to the gravediggers in the cemetery, hence the name.

The location was chosen to begin creating the evening’s atmosphere, which was to culminate in a Halloween party at another friend’s house on St Teresa’s Road, also in close proximity to the graveyard. The theme for the party was all things zombies and the animals that might feed on them.

David being a rather superior person was not dressed in anything that would resemble a zombie, his nod to the party being that he brought a doctor’s white coat and stethoscope with him to don later.

During the course of the evening with large quantities of Guinness being consumed, the proximity of the graveyard and the Jack O ’Lanterns made from turnips, rather than the imported American pumpkins concept, the conversation turned to the subject of the afterlife and the connection between the living and the dead being celebrated on Halloween, or Samhain as it was known in ancient Celtic times. David being a complete non believer in anything to do with the afterlife, God, or any other type of spirit or ghost was loudly poo pooing the concept when he was interrupted by Anthony Kavanagh, the fourth generation owner of the pub, who assured him that there was definitely a connection between the living and the dead and that he and his staff were so convinced of this that the pub would be closing at 11:30pm sharp, as no one wanted to be on the premises after twelve O’clock.

This early closure had been the practice at the pub since his great grandfather’s time when, on a number of all hollow’s eves, alcohol, that was definitely not consumed by paying customers on the premises, disappeared from whisky bottles and beer kegs.  Bottles of whiskey that would normally produce forty “small ones” per bottle would be empty after serving thirty measures. A keg of Guinness containing one hundred pints of stout would run empty after the serving of sixty pints. The most unnerving thing was that anyone who was on the premises after twelve midnight would have the same songs rattling around in their head, as if they had heard them sung, songs that were never sung by any person in the pub. There was obviously a celebration going on in some parallel world that could not be seen but was breaking through the dimension that separates the living world from the world of those who have passed on. Possible proof of the ancient Celtic belief that it was on this night that the two worlds came closest to each other as they travelled through eternity and sometimes collided, with the actions of those who had passed on, but not yet reached their final resting place, being subliminally experienced but not seen.

On being questioned as to why the pub used turnips for their Jack O ‘Lanterns instead of the modern pumpkins? Anthony explained that it was because legend also had it that, because of their size, they represented the skulls of those who were sacrificed to please the Gods of Samhain in ancient times.

The more Guinness David consumed the more obnoxious he became, loudly denouncing what he called the primitive beliefs of the obviously uneducated underclasses that normally frequented the pub. The more sanguine of the elderly regular patrons just regarded him as a toffy nosed git from the south side but the rest of the pub had more sinister thoughts and eventually he was challenged to put his bottle where his very loud mouth was and go spend the night in the graveyard, silently hoping that he might die by falling into an already open grave.

With the confidence of a spoiled brat and six pints of Guinness inside him he took up the challenge and agreed to climb over the railings into the Graveyard when the pub closed.

There was a number of graveyard workers drinking in Kavanagh’s that night and, as people were leaving, they stopped David and advised him strongly about going into the graveyard after midnight. No gravedigger would ever go there during the hours of darkness as they regularly found evidence of sacrificial activity when they opened the graveyard in the mornings on certain days of the month, mostly coinciding with a full moon or some ancient witchcraft anniversary day. While they had never found a human body, there was enough remaining evidence to suggest that it happened and hiding the sacrificed remains would obviously not be too difficult in a graveyard with a million graves.

His friends also tried to dissuade him but to no avail, the more they pleaded with him to give up the escapade the more he shouted his derision about those who believed in ghosts and pishogues so they finally left him as he climbed over the railings and dropped onto the grass in the graveyard at one minute to midnight.

The street lights faintly illuminated an area of about thirty feet from the railings and he could see a copse of trees to his right. Walking toward the trees he saw a large oak tree with a low lying heavy branch that would possibly afford some shelter. When he reached it, he discovered that the gentle curve of the branch, as it left the tree, was wide enough to be used as a reasonably comfortable reclining sitting place. He settled in and, with the super confidence of the non believer and eight pints of Guinness he fell asleep.

He was not long asleep when a very full bladder insisted that it be emptied. Waking, he rolled groggily from the branch to a standing position and relieved himself against the tree. The sound of his stream of liquid hitting the tree was strangely muted and the steam, instead of rising, sank slowly to the ground and lay there, floating slowly along the grass. Readjusting his clothing, he is now fully awake and realises that something has changed dramatically since he had gone asleep.

A perfunctory look at his watch to get some idea of how long he had been asleep changed to a stare of disquiet when the watch showed twelve midnight with no movement of the second hand. Taking his smartphone from his pocket his disquiet turned to a concern when the on/off switch had no effect on the dark, blank screen. Pulling his shoulders back and staring around with mock confidence he notices that the area is lit by a strange diffused greyish pink light, as if a distant rising moon was shining and reflecting off the underneath of low hanging clouds, bathing the place in a light that he felt as much as saw. His confidence rapidly dissipates when he looks left towards the graveyard railings to find instead the extremity of his vision, beyond which there was only blackness, the street lights, Kavanagh’s pub and the buildings around it, no longer visible.

With a nervous laugh he looks to his right and a shiver of freight runs through his body when he sees a big slightly stooped figure dressed in a loose fitting, hooded, full length, jet black cassock. He laughs out loud and shouts “ Get the fuck outa here ye bunch of messers, I don’t know how you’re doing this but fair play to ye, ye got me, let’s go to the party”. The figure in black turns his head slowly. His chalk white face, burning burgundy eyes and pure evil grin showing gnarled stained teeth freezes the blood in David’s veins and he passes out, falling backwards on the ground.

He wakes up for the second time that night and the scene in front of him fills him with such terror he tries unsuccessfully to will his mind to let him pass out again. The figure in black, now in full view, is standing over the naked body of a man face down on the slab of a concrete chest tomb, acting as a sacrificial altar. On the other side of the tomb there are three dog like creatures, not hyenas or wolves but a hybrid of both, huge heads and teeth with massive shoulders and chests and the low slinking stance of a hyena, staring expectantly at the figure in black, mouths slightly open, saliva dripping from their jaws. The figure in Black is at least one and a half times the size of a normal man, his huge hands and chalk white face the only things visible. The nail on his right index finger, two inches long, slightly curved with the edges sharpened like a razor blade is shaped like a teaspoon, glowing silver white in the diffused light. Perched on a nearby headstone is a huge black, bird, like a raven but twice the size with a long hooked beak, staring at the scene with unblinking eyes.

The figure in black looks at David and grins widely, showing his gnarled discoloured teeth. He raises his right hand to the sky so that David can see the finger nail that is now glowing on the end of his index finger, reaches around the body lying on the slab and with one swift circular movement cuts through the skin the whole way around the neck. The body has obviously been dead for a number of hours as there is no bleeding, just a brownish red line along the cut. He calls to the Raven with a harsh rasping “CAW” deep in his throat.  The raven flies from its perch and clamps its sharp talons on both sides of the head and with one mighty flap of his huge wings flies backwards, pulling the skin from the skull with a ripping sound like an opening Velcro fastener. The Raven drops the skin in front of the dog like creatures, who remain motionless until the figure in black gives a commanding bark and they devour it in seconds.

A swift twist and pull separates the head from the torso. He pushes the body from the slab, barks a command and the dog like creatures consume it with ferocious snarling, tearing and ripping, breaking and crunching the bones with a sound like heavy boots on gravel.

He sits down slowly on the slab. The raven flutters its feathers expectantly as he turns the severed head to look at where the face used to be. He looks at the raven with a knowing smile and flicks the right eye from the skull with his long index fingernail. The raven catches and swallows it before it hits the ground, hovers on open wings and repeats the catch and swallow as the left eye is flicked from the skull.

Standing watching this, David has become catatonic, his screaming mind refusing to believe what he is seeing he sinks to the ground and curls up in a foetal position, puts his thumb in his mouth and whimpers for his mother.

Meanwhile, the man in black extends his index finger in front of him and stares at it until it glows bright red. He jambs it into the skull about an inch above the nose and with a circular motion burns through the bone and removes the top of the skull, throwing it to the dog like creatures.

Taking the skull in his huge left hand he calls to the raven with a gentle “caw”. The raven lands on his right forearm and dips its beak into the cavity.  It takes it about thirty minutes to clean every piece of brain and skin from the skull.

Taking a small candle from his cloak he places it in the now empty skull and pausing, he stares at his finger nail until it glows red again, lights the candle and places the skull in the middle of the stone slab.

David’s friends were both surprised and impressed when he hadn’t come back to the party house and decided to walk over to the graveyard when it opened at nine o’clock the following morning. Still drunk, the noise they made laughing and joking loudly as they came through the gate woke David, who jumped up and ran towards them in delight and relief that he had survived the night, even if his nightmare had scarred him half to death. To his surprise they walked straight passed him and stood looking at the Jack o ’lantern that was still glowing faintly on one of the graveyard chest tombs. He shouted at them, “Hey guys, I’m right here, stop fucking messing, I won the bet, I stayed here all night”

They left the graveyard deciding that David had gone home rather than admit that he didn’t stay the night and lost the bet.