Strabane got an alt-right good shout out in The Unionist Times the other week .
This happened when their resident Preacherman in pole position (he who delights to boast about this most enlightening stat: that there is more Polish spoken south of the Black Sow’s Dyke than Leprechaun on Liffeyside !) identified the West Tyrone town as the birthplace of the mammy of Fr. Charles Coughlin, Demagogue of Dem and Us in the US, back in the Doris Day when the radio was still known as the wireless.
It was from his mammy that The Preacherman, with the cattleprod-shaped crozier, reckoned the Demagogue in the RC dog-collar inherited, for his outrageous oratorios, his ‘lyrical Irish accent and intonation’ in Hamilton, Ontario. Which speaks volumes, indeed, for the, erm, travel wellness of the West Tryone tone.
Hamilton, Ontario was named for/ after George Hamilton (no, not that George Hamilton) of Scottish descent. And as the Srath, meaning a river field, in An Srath Bán is the same as the Strath in Strathclyde perhaps it is time to cast one’s ayes and eyes in a wee North Eastern direction away from home and across the foam.
The tip-top tut-tutter of T.U.T., having definitely established that Strabane had mothered a Monster of the Airwaves in America, this new focus will now be specifically on the export of Monsters from Strabane to Caledonia rather than to Canada.
To do so, one needs to take one step backwards before taking twenty league-long steps forward: from Strabane to Scotland via Donegal. It is, indeed, a fertile field of metal-studded study to test one’s mental mettle, not.
But first a word of two before we leave the Hamilton, Ontario monster, spawned in An Srath Bán.
Now, the word ‘monster’, as used in the context of radio, specifically where pop music is concerned, need not necessarily denote something negative; more often than not it actually means quite the polar opposite. Cole Porter, for instance, referenced and rhymed “Coughlin” in his 1935 song “A Picture of Me Without You” (in the fourth refrain) which became a, erm, monster hit:
–Picture City Hall without boondogglin’, picture Sunday tea minus Father Coughlin.
One can only speculate why the Great FOTsby, aka, The Preacherman, renowned as a striker with his distinctive crozier, missed this cross from a corner boy and consequently a sitter in front of an open goal. In canine terms, the lapdog with a laptop missed a Red Setter. Not only a trick, but a hat trick, indeed. Could it be his knowledge of the confectionary of pop music could/ should be, rosier, erm, even, Irish Rosier ? Surely not, Shirley !
Another example of the benign connotation of ‘monster’ in the top of the pops world is, for instance, when George Hamilton 1V went forth and recorded ‘Abilene’ . This too duly became a (gasp) monster hit on the (gulp) radio.
Abilene, Abilene, Prettiest town I’ve ever seen Women there don’t treat you mean In Abilene, my Abilene.
The trademark catchiness of its toon was magicked up by the legendary John D. Loudermilk, back in the day (1958) when milk was actually louder, in the pre-cardborad carton times. As in the music of glass milk bottles: yes, the milk was louder but also, more musical than today’s CACophany of pop music, as it danced the hornpipe of human kindness in the early morning rain on the doorsteps of D.C (Drimnagh-Crumlin), Dubln 12 and elswhere besides.
Ah, yis, the CACophany of today’s pop music, where you too, without a note in your head, can stuff countless notes in your pockets.
But, back to Strabane. The Fabulous Fifties on Liffeyside, not least in D.C., benefitted massively from another export from a townland contagious to Greater Strabane: that would be Urney.
Which gave its name to one of the monster Radio Éireann jingles of the era:
-Any time is Urney time !
Urney Chocolates was established in 1919 by Eileen and Harry Gallagher at their home, Urney House. Harry Gallagher (born 1879) was Crown Solicitor for County Donegal. Sweet-making was one of a number of local industries started by Eileen Gallagher based in the back garden of their house in an effort to stem the tide of emigration from the area.
They moved production to Belgard Road, Tallaght, Dublin. By the 1960s Urney Chocolates and its subsidiaries were employing almost 1,000 workers, including many from D.C.. At that time it was considered one of the largest chocolate factories in Europe. Truly, a manufacturing monster of a factory.
Now, another native of Urney was one, Liam de Búrca, who was born circa a century before the Gallaghers. He was a different chocolate kettle of fish entirely. Rugadh é in am nuair a bhí An Srath Bán fos sa Ghaeltacht agus sar a chuir Béarla éigeantach an Hausfrau fréamhacha síos / Liam de Búrca, as the name suggests, was born when Urnaí (meaning ‘prayer’) had yet to submit to the compulsory English of the Hausfrau in Schloss Windsor.
But, and it’s a big but, before heading over to Scotland he took a backward.ie. butt-directed step and joined the Donegal Militia. Possibly because this Finn Harps of its time failed to make the cut for the European Championship Finals (not to be confused with Eurovision) held in Waterloo (1815) he moved over to Edinburgh, probably on a free transfer from Harps to either Hearts or Hibs.
Instead, he became the first half of the alt-comedy duo, Burke and Hare, who kept their clients in stitches, and were precursors of the kneeslapping Dublin duo of humourists, Hutch and Kinahan, who were more inclined towards the dumping in ditches.
Bíodh gur rugadh Liam de Búrca in Urnaí ní dheachaigh sé go Dún Éidin le guí ach chun daoine goilliúnacha a chloí: William Burke went to prey on down and outs rather than to pray in an upwardly mobile direction.
Thus, making him the second Monster who took the (Strabane)-Donegal-Scottish route.
The first of course was Colmcille from the shores of Lough Gartan i dTir Chonaill. Tar éis do Londaindoire (sar a aistríodh ainm na cathrach go Doire Cholmchille) faoi scamall scanallach thug sé aghaidh naofa ar Alba. Where he morphed into the St. Columba of the Iona Institute. Although not a monster himself, this great-great-great grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, was himself the cause of a loch-based monster.
For on August 22, 565 he ambushed the imaginations of the Scottish (take your pick of Picts and Gaels) by first sighting and copyrighting the Loch Ness Monster. Dubious Thomases, and other local Mrs. Doubtfires, have dismissed his sighting as the result of an overwrought RC imagination.
RC in this instance, perhaps meaning, Reverend Coughlin – see above.
(Incidentally, the a-word wins the award for correct knife and fork word. For 1337 years later to the day, on August 22, 1922, Michael Collins was ambushed at either Béal na mBláth or Beal na Blá. The precise spelling of the placename is disputed; though the Irish Placenames Commission plumped for the second version – ‘buttermilk’ ‘rather than ‘blossoms’- thereby dropping m from the lexicon much as the big M himself was dropped).
Of course, there is yet another claimant to the title of Loch Ness Monster, and yes, she too is a creature of the imagination:
-Lady Macbeth of Inverness.
Inverness, be it noted, was defintitely no Abilene back in the pitiful day and seeling night: there the women really did treat you mean, from Lady M sheself to the 3 Banshees.
She made her first appearance on stage in 1605 and it is a testament to the enduring quality of Shakespeare’s goosequill that her sluice-like words, Bruce, still subliminally resonated among the Shrill Jills (of both genders) of the rabidly fanatical faction of the Lough Yes Sponsored. That would have been during the Pro-Abortion Referendum-dee-dum, south of the Black Sow’s Dyke in 2018 when the hack-backed hate-eens swept the boards:
I have given suck, and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me.
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.
The Immortal Bard wryly opted here for the least apt name possible in this instance: Macbeth, of course, means Mac an Bheatha / Son of Life.
While her name was never actually invoked by the clever clogs in their broadcast debates, oops, conversations with the Bog Oak Monolith on the No side, then neither either was that of the Lady Macbeth of Dublin in the dark days of the last backward century: that would be, of course, Nurse Mamie Cadden, the Countess of Countless Crisis Pregnancies. But, then, there was no need to: the mindsnatchers of the monominded media of McHenpartyism had it all sewn up as tightly as you’d expect from the Burke and Hares of the Airwaves.
Happily, the corgi dogs on the streets of Liffeyside have been orgy-barking of late that subterranean manoeverings are afoot to have the outrageous death sentence handed down to the Courageous Countess in 1956 granted a posthumous, erm, Amnesty Ireland. And by the soft-spoken, gentle-voiced real gormless Government too.
The Referendumming Down
In the montrous world of ad hoc Nessy
The polar opposite of hat-trick L.Messi
Columba from L.Gartan
Done good for ye tartan
Lady McDeaths voted yes, yes, Yessy !
One wonders if this limerick might be sung to the toon of, say, ‘Abilene’?
Just as one wonders: what’s, btw, with the cheap, chunky jewellery which the gaunt Queen of the May (should she make it that far) insists on flaunting? An authoritative panel of panel-beating anatomists have come to the definitive conclusion that there is a direct correlation between the chunkiness of her junk-shop jewellery and the tilted gait of the common-or-garden stilt-walking PM which belongs of right only to the genuinely titled.
Or just as one equally wonders whether the berserk John Bercow (whose real ancestral Romanian name is Berkovitz) is in anyway related to Son of Sam, Speaker of the House of common Serial Killers in New York (and whose real name still is: David Berkovitz).
Eyes to the right?
Nose to the left?
Ba choir go n-inseofar dúinn.
TUILLEADH LE TEACHT: TO BE CONTINUED.