Sunday, 15 September 2019
Dolly skips over 40 and goes straight to 41(%)
Dolly is 41, and as we are talking percentages, 41% is better than the 40% which the campaign was only briefly on Sunday morning. To you seventy-nine pledgers, a big thanks and I hope you enjoy the extract below. But your work is not done yet. If you scroll down to the bottom of this update you will see Twitter and Facebook buttons; please share with your followers. And if you have any comments there’s a box down there for you to put them in. I promise to respond. Eamon
The Summer of Unrequited Love
A story about Dolly’s husband’s name
“Given my god-granted rights and responsibilities as your father, I hereby name you Cathal Niall McClean,” the man said leaning over the improvised cardboard cradle. He put his pointing finger in the baby’s tiny fist; “your name is Cathal,” he whispered, “You’re a lovely boy Cathal. My lovely son.” And to seal his pronouncement, he wet his thumb in his mouth and signed a cross on the baby’s forehead. “Cathal it is.”
On the day Stanley Henry Nigel McClean’s mother went into the nursing home in Birr for her confinement, his father was thinking about the inaugural conference of De Valera’s anti-treaty party in Dublin. The unreliable trains were the problem, but his elder sister heard of a spare seat in a car, told him it was meant to be, and sent a telegram to his hotel on 23rd March to announce that a forty-hour labour had resulted in a beautiful ten-pound son. And when he phoned her at the family seed business, she said:
“Ah sure so long as you’re back to bring them home, Peggy will understand.”
But a week passed, and the new republican party had been named Fianna Fail before he got away, and by then his wife had registered the child’s name and was in possession of his birth certificate.
“Your pique is over now Peggy. No harm done,” he said when he was home. “We’ll get the paper reissued. He will be Cathal Niall, after my poor murdered father.”
Her refusal resulted in him referring to the boy as “son” in his wife’s presence and “Cathal” when she was absent. The town and the surrounding farmers took an amused or a rigid view about the rights and wrongs of it, depending on where they stood on the privileges of a head of household, not to mention their thoughts about the recently attempted violent separation from England or the suffering they’d endured when the liberators set about killing each other to prove who among them had the best plan for Ireland’s future.
In Cathal’s growing up years, a farmer who was big enough to take the value of his custom for granted might ask the boy his name, especially if either of his parents were presenting a statement of the farmer’s account or instructing the labouring boys to load up so many bags of seedling potatoes into the tractor trailer in the yard. But even a farmer with a more modest holding who saw the boy sitting up on the counter in his short pants and the hand knit jumper that itched around his neck might say, “and how old are you now young man? Is it five or six you are?”
And Cathal would say, “I was born on the same day as the Fin Fal party. I’m the same age as Fin Fal. Me and Fin Fal are brothers.”
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