Friday, July 21, 2006

That's my Dad there

Christy Moran, in his prime...



The picture was taken when Dad was General Manager of a shirt factory in Leitrim. It's from a two-page spread in the Irish Farmers' Journal about the factory, which was owned by locally famous business tycoons, the McCartin brothers, one of whom was and is still a prominent politician. The brothers' homespun technique for wealth creation (which ultimately ended in bankruptcy) was the way they had been taught to pick fruit, to take one tree at a time and pick it clean. They bought farms, milled and produced feed to supply to the farms, provided engineering etc. After creating hundreds of jobs for men, the McCartin's setup the shirt factory to provide work for local young women who might otherwise have had to leave the area.

My Dad, Mam and my sisters (I have no brothers) all worked in the rag trade, and so did I for the first six years of my working life. (Imagine our delight the year Rag Trade won the Grand National! That Saturday in 1976 I was working overtime in a factory in Smithfield, Dublin when everybody took a break to watch the race in a pub around the corner. A great day—but that's another story.)

Dad was at a garden party this week in Áras an Uachtaráin, as chairman of Ballymun Men's Centre (BMC). In spite of an inauspicious address (Lift Shaft 4, Shangan Road) the BMC is a great facility, a warren of rooms with a computer network for training, meeting room, office etc, though scheduled for demolition together with the rest of Ballymun.

Amongst many other things, Dad was formerly Secretary of our local Labour party branch. He resigned when they decided to go into coalition with Fine Gael (many years ago.)

One of his favourite books is The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, and he is as genuine Dublin as you can get. He has a highly developed sense of the ridiculous, which I'm glad I inherited, and no time for pretentious tomfoolery. Here he is in the Ballymun Men's Centre, trying to keep a straight face while pretending to point at something for my camera.

Monday, July 03, 2006

In the garden today

Everything is better out of doors—drama, food, music, love.

You can hear the wind in the trees, moan of buzzflies, the smallness of voices in the distance, the similarity of gulls and schoolchildren's cries, desultory clink of hammer on tin far away, pecking of a neighbour's shovel on stone, angry jets.

The sheen of green-bellied flies does not go unnoticed, the visits and revisits of a rufus butterfly, and a wood pigeon's one bar blues.

On a hot day when any wind rushes through and cools your ankles, on a dry day when the trickle of water nearby is a joy to hear. Sirens do not distract the terrier from chewing a stick, working on it implacably, less concerned with noises off than with a hover fly that dares to interrupt.

Leaves lit through by the evening sun on top of a laurel mostly in shade, bring a memory from a lost summer, of a grand avenue with four rows of trees, and side roads with small terraced houses below.