Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Narrowback Dreams/God Bless Eileen Farragher

Since crossing the broad Atlantic I’ve been interested in the effects of dislocation on fellow emigrants and the cultural divide between Irish born parents and their “narrowback” children.

Well, I could have saved myself all those liver-depleting years of field research in pubs, clubs, and festivals because Mike Farragher has just published 50 Shades of Green, Part 2 of his revelatory series, This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks.

Now since Mike has often blamed Black 47 for his descent into the black hole of music journalism, it’s only fitting that I should help dispatch him to Hollywood fame, groupies and all the other frothy perks he’s missed while slaving away as music editor at the Irish Voice.

For, this intrepid ink slinger has hit upon a subject dear to the hearts of many – the relationship between the Irish Mammy and her ingrate of a son.

I once spoke to Angela McCourt on the same subject. Between long drags on her Woodbines she confided that, “Each of my sons has been a private Gethsemane to me.”

Mrs. Eileen Farragher, nee Cleary, of Ballylanders, Co. Limerick is far more discreet, but if Angela was the star among the ashes then Eileen continues to be the heroine of the Shamrocks series. She strides that chaotic stage with a mixture of fortitude, forbearance, and just a hint of refined martyrdom that places her somewhere between Maude Gonne and The Little Flower.

For all their hardships neither of these ladies had to put up with such a callow ne’er-do-well son. Young Mike complains about his mother’s disapproving eye when she notes that he has failed to comply with his Catholic duty of attending Sunday mass. As right she should – the young hooligan!

When faced with the same situation back in Wexford, all Kirwan males rose from their hungover beds at 11:30 of a Sunday morning and hastened down to last mass; that we may have celebrated that holy sacrifice in Simon Lambert’s public house is not the point. We knew how to humor our Irish mother.

Thus I see a great future for 50 Shades of Green. The millions of us who have been model sons can pick up this tome on days of stress and rejoice that we never caused our mothers a grey hair, unlike Mr. Farragher who must have driven his matron into debt and despair with the rinses and highlights she surely needed on a weekly basis.

In the course of this harrowing, if titillating, read I often wondered who might play Eileen Farragher in the movie version of Shamrocks. The actress would need to be both a tragedian and a deft humorist - a cross between Maureen O’Hara and Katherine Hepburn, perhaps?

And what of Mr. Farragher Sr.? Well, Galway men, like their Wexford counterparts, long ago discovered that when sharing a house with a powerful woman, you keep your head down, your hand out, and your opinions to yourself.

Still, you can sense the poor man’s innate Tuam sorrow as he watches his sad sack of a son enter manhood without even a smidgen of the hurling talent of the great Joe Salmon, while wasting away his time at pinball machines tunelessly humming Duran Duran songs.

You can almost hear Mike Sr. sigh, “If ‘twas a life in the music business he wanted, couldn’t he have at least joined The Saw Doctors?”

Despite these and other heartbreaks 50 Shades of Green is a book of ultimate triumph, for to everyone’s amazement, young Mike manages to stay out of Rykers, and ends up with a beautiful wife, two lovely daughters, and eventual redemption in the swamps of Jersey.

So, if you’re feeling depressed, ready to chuck it all in and join the Tea Party, there’s an easier way out. Buy this book and discover Mike’s secret of success. And while you’re at it, attend his upcoming rock & read tour.

I’ll be there with him at the Irish Rep on March 5th raking through his considerable pearls of wisdom – that is if his mother doesn’t brain me first with a belt of her Limerick handbag.

For more information http://www.thisisyourbrainonshamrocks.com

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