We closed up John B's on Saturday night last. Our pub has been shut down now for a week. Mam and Dad bought the place 65 years ago and the longest we have ever been closed in all that time was when they died. And that was only for a couple of days.
Mam died four years ago and a bit. John B's was opened the day after the funeral for our summer pub theatre. We had a few friends and family in on the night Dad was buried.
The show must go on, were my mother's strict instructions. The show will go on even though our pub is dark tonight.
I gave a day or two grieving when the pub closed up. The worst part is the silence when you walk in the door. I'm a people junkie. Our customers are our friends.
Liam Nolan, the broadcaster, used to do a late night radio programme on RTÉ called 'Late Date'. Lots of lonely people listened in. Liam used to call the audience the community of friends. Liam helped us make it through the night.
The bar had to be decommissioned.
A million thoughts a second were going through my head. Sometimes I take a line from the TV series 'Mash' to bar the rush of ideas. The loudspeakers used to announce "incoming wounded" when the choppers brought in the injured solders to the field hospital in Korea where it was set.
It works this way. When the deluge of often negative over-thinking comes at you, just say "incoming wounded". The flow ebbs away. You stop it right there. Works for me anyway.
I made a mistake when I was emptying out the beer lines. Too much thinking was the cause of it. The beer comes through pipes called pythons and if the drink is left in too long it turns to treacle. I forgot to disconnect the barrels properly when I was pouring the beer down the sink. Nearly three barrels were lost. I was in a world of my own.
Lost in thought I was. Wondering and worrying if we would come from this.
There are spirits living here in John B's. The only way I can cope with the passing of Mam and Dad is through my belief there is a life after closing time.
A few years back I mentioned about the brush my Mam used to comb her impossibly tangled hair. Some of her hair is still stuck to the brush.
I went upstairs over the pub, where we lived in a space that was no bigger than a small flat.
I stroked Mam's hair on the brush. I kissed the brush like I used to kiss the top of Mam's head when she was alive.
I got great comfort then and when I touched my Mam's hair it was as if I was charged with electricity. The tiredness left me and I saw off the incoming wounded.
I think what got to me most was having to spend so much time in my own company. There are times when I dwell too much on my own failures. But then a while ago something came into my head and it was: "Why don't you try to be as nice to yourself as you are to other people who messed up?"
All the thinking did me good in the end. It was like as if I was interviewing myself for a new job. So I wrote my own job description.
All I can do is try my best to make you smile here sometimes or even laugh if I'm on a good day.
There will be a bit of sad too. Sad brings you to a contentment we can only reach by honouring the sadness. The incoming wounded must be tended to, but then we move on.
I'm over the closing down now and luckier than so many bar owners who will never get to open their doors again.
To you, my friends, I would say there is always a way back.
I was never as prosperous as when I went broke. I know that's a contradiction but when you're in financial trouble, it's then you can really get stuck into your comeback. There is no shame in going broke. It's a badge of honour. You tried and you can try again, only this time you will be wiser and cuter.
Mam used to envy the people who lived in what she called private houses. Although she couldn't hack it in a private house herself. Mam said goodbye to pub life for all of two days. She went to live next to me, about a mile from John B's.
Private house living wasn't for Mam: "I looked out the door on the first day and all I saw was a dog. I looked out the door on the second day and I didn't even see the dog."
She was back down living over the bar on the second night of her 36-hour retirement.
Isolation wouldn't suit Mam but she would make the most of her situation. I'd say she would start knitting.
Mam could knit a woolly hat faster than any factory machine and she wouldn't miss a stitch.
She knitted so many hats, people took to using them as tea cosies and one woman used two caps as bed- time toe warmers when the hot water bottle sprung a leak.
I'm knitting words and telling stories. I'm trying to anyway and trying to get in my five-a-day.
Some of us try to phone at least five people who are confined to barracks every day.
The ones we call tell us of the glory stories coming through from the front.
The heroism of our people is right up there with the freedom fighters in the War on Independence. We have an army of hundreds of thousands. There was no need for conscription. Ireland volunteered.
Some of the tales from the trenches are of our time. I got this one in Cork only the other day.
The local girl was telling her friend how much she loved the man she fancied. "If I got one night with him," said the Cork girl, "I'd ate the face mask off him."