Friday 28 October 2016

The ghost of grandad's past

Published 01/11/2015 | 02:30

'Grandad? Were you alive in the Great Hunger?'
'Grandad? Were you alive in the Great Hunger?'

'Grandad? Were you alive in the Great Hunger?'

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'I was indeed, Johnny.'

'And how long did it last, Grandad?'

'About eight years in all, Johnny. From two oh seven, as we called it back then, to two fifteen.'

'And what was it like, Grandad?'

'Oh Johnny, they were hairy times. Hairy times indeed. No one had any money left, even the banks. What small bit of money there was left had to be protected, so the Army surrounded all the post offices, shops, banks and ATMs. It was a Polis state. Gangs of marauding people roamed the streets, like zombies. They went from door to door begging for food. They were so malnourished that many were no more than four feet tall. And they would frighten people to give them food. Then they went back to their lair and hoarded the food.'

'Grandad? Are you talking about Halloween?'

'Em, no, Johnny. That's how it was back then. People would put up skeletons' heads and other scary things outside their houses to try and ward off these marauding gangs but to no effect. We dreaded the knock on the door. The insistent knock of the undead. I remember well how I would have to hold them off at gunpoint, often aided and abetted by the governor of the Central Bank.'

'And why was there no food, Grandad?'

'Well Johnny, it was all because of a bloodless coup by Europe. You see, in those days, the staple diet of the Irish people was sausages, rashers and pudding. And one day we were told we couldn't eat meat anymore.

'That was an awful time, Johnny. Suddenly pigs roamed the land. Marauding gangs of pigs, holding the country to ransom. Things were threatening to descend into complete chaos as the freed pigs threatened to become our new overlords.

'The Army was the only thing that stood between us and pig rule. No one ever realised how close to the edge we were. And the people were calling out for bread. Not only that but they wanted artisan bread, and craft beer. Luckily, everyone had their own artisan bakery and craft brewery, which they all had to protect at gunpoint. Your grandmother had to guard the oven with a bazooka, and I kept watch over the brewery.'

'Grandad. Why is none of this in the history books?'

'Because no one ever knew how bad things got, Johnny. And it was down to an evil tribe called Fianna Fail. They were to blame for everything and that was the most important thing. To blame them.'

'And Grandad, what did you do back then?'

'I was the Taoiseach, Johnny. And I saved the country. I was so crucial to national security that they would have to lock me up and hide me away for long periods, like during election campaigns.'

'And did you save the country, Grandad?'

'I did, Johnny. As terrifying as it sounds. I was regarded as the stable option back then.'

Sunday Independent

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