Billy Keane: Hermit prepares his green and red
Enda Kenny in power and London conquered can see Mayo's curse broken
THE old naked hermit stroked his long beard. On the craggy island off the coast of Mayo there lived no one else save for birds and far too many rabbits breeding like rabbits. It's getting cold now. September winds and northern rains harass his old bones.
On that sunny August morning, after the semi-final triumph over Tyrone, he gathered up wild roses and ripe strawberries. He bit his tongue and spat blood into the mix. Boiled it all up he did in the skillet on the turf fire. He cut and saved the peat himself. Braved all weathers on the soft bog up on the highest point of the island. Hauled down the precious fuel to the shore, on his bony
85-year-old back, after the donkey swam ashore when the loneliness became too much.
Then he made a fire. Rubbed stones for hours until a spark came and lit up gannet harvested from a nest far out on a precipitous ledge. The old man suffered from vertigo. Fell far to go he did, from 300 feet. But the wise man was saved by a kind- hearted dolphin. He grabbed a dorsal and paddled ashore with gannet between his remaining three teeth. For this was the way of the ancients. The only way to lift the curse he brought on his native county on that fateful September night in Dublin, fully
62 years ago. The last time Mayo won an
The priest gave him no mercy. "You have committed a heinous sin and pay you must for such wanton behaviour with banishment to a remote island and three Hail Marys," he ordered.
"Mayo," thundered the fundamentalist cleric, "shall not win an All-Ireland until a Mayo man becomes Taoiseach and Mayo conquers London itself. Only then can you leave this island and witness the retention of Sam Maguire."
The young boy, as he was then, was downcast. It was all the fault of the friggin' French. Mayo never had any luck with the French. Didn't General Humbert come in with the French troops in 1798 and get half the county killed? He must have been the one who brought in the French kissin'.
There he was in the ballroom dancing with a Dublin girl on the night of the
All-Ireland win in 1951. They got close. As near as the Mayo corner-backs got to their men. That close. The French kiss took place. Them friggin' French. Knowing they had gone far too far they stopped. He confessed and was banished.
The years did not go quickly but The Beatles called. In 1968. During their infatuation with the Maharishi Mahesh
Yogi. They were looking for a guru nearer home.
He told them "to cop on and not be actin' the ould eejits". The Beatles proclaimed him profound but he did not avail of their offer to go to the mainland on their yellow submarine.
Then Enda was elected as our leader but what about Mayo taking revenge for 1798 and defeating the British? Surely that day would never come?
When the skillet came to the boil over the turf fire he added kestrel kill and fermented seal semen, with just a hint of organic oregano grown by the wise man in the hot weather, and stimulated with his own droppings.
The wise one pounded his calloused and corned feet on the cooled pulp until the juices came out a vivid red. An old recipe it was for making paint. Gleaned from the ancient writings of a monk who was renowned for joining up the dots and colouring in the Book of Kells.
The old islander dyed half his long beard with the red paint. The growth went well down to his nobbly knees. His calves were then covered in red from the pounding of the mix in much the same way as the silky legs of the women of the wine producing areas of parts of Spain. Then he added the green from a bottle of nail varnish he ordered online from the pound shop over in Killala.
Now he was ready. In the green and red. Ready for Croke Park and glory.
Ah but the Dublin people laughed at him when he told Miriam O'Callaghan of his prophesy. A Mayo leader of Ireland and England bate. Ho ho they laughed and ho ho too.
The seer could not believe his luck. Mayo and London drawn together in the Connacht final in Castlebar. The news came through. Mayo conquered London. Even though if the truth be known they were all as Irish as the rest of us.
The helicopter came for him this Friday morning. Sponsored by a Mayo builder who went over to England with a tenner and a shovel and came back home with €70m.
He's a celeb now. Even got to meet Louis Walsh. Got a bit of a shock though when they stopped to break the journey and he met the priest who cursed him, drinkin' porter and closing his eyes. With his missus. At a trad session in Matt Molloy's lovely pub in Westport.
The ex-priest got a mad fit of laughing. "Sure wasn't I after kissin' herself Humbert style that very day in the sacristy," he said.
The Dublin girl the old boy kissed in 1951 is dying to meet him for the second date. He'll chance it he says. But what about the punishment if he gets carried away?
"This time I mightn't bother going to confession. And sure if she went that far on the first night you'd never know what might happen this time."