Historically and geographically speaking, Enniscorthy is often regarded as being the centre of County Wexford. All roads certainly led to the Cathedral Town last week as author, musician and cultural critic Blindboy Boatclub arrived at the Presentation Centre for the latest sold-out instalment of his live podcast.
While the proud Limerick native would be the first to admit that wearing a plastic bag on your head can have an impact over how seriously you are taken as an artist and commentator, those who are familiar with Blindboy's work will be in no doubt that this is one very intelligent and talented man. Although he has previously admitted to suffering from a certain amount of social anxiety when it comes to live shows, he seemed completely at ease as he took to the Presentation Centre stage, sitting in front of a microphone and laptop and periodically taking drags from a vape pen.
He got the evening underway by reading two short stories from his book 'The Gospel According to Blindboy', both of which were dark and involved a certain amount of grim torture. The first focused on a spurned lover using an ancient Persian method of torture on his wife's new partner, while the other focused on two Cork boys and their plan to skin Rory Gallagher alive. When you separate yourself from the bizarre topics of the stories and focus on the words on the page, you'll see the magic that Blindboy weaves. He has a wonderful penchant for the descriptive and using all four senses to put you in the room where the action is taking place. In the first story 'Scaphism' his description of walking lonely country roads on a dark winter's evening is something which you could argue wouldn't look out of place among the work of the country's modern literary heavyweights. Not bad for a man with a plastic bag on his head.
Following his readings, Blindboy welcomed his guest Cathy Keane of Heritage Tours Wexford and they plunged head-first into the rich history of Enniscorthy and notably, Vinegar Hill. Cathy proved a great advocate of Wexford history and tourism and did a fine job in pointing out just how much history exists on our doorsteps. Blindboy learned the reverence with which Fr Murphy is held in these parts and took great interest in Cathy's tales of him running cattle towards the crown forces before engaging them. 'He f**king weaponised cattle!' the Limerick man proclaimed, amazed.
Cathy also discussed some of the findings from the recent archaeological studies of Vinegar Hill, along with tidbits such as the use of exploding musket balls which claimed the limbs of so many women and children on the hill. Blindboy seemed genuinely fascinated by the history of Wexford and it's bloody reputation of resisting imperial rule, but he was also enthralled by cultural aspects such as the Yola language and how certain phrases, such as 'quare', have been passed down to this very day.
With the live podcast set to be broadcast to people all over the country and, indeed the world, at some point over the coming weeks, there's no doubt that Cathy helped to capture the living, breathing history that's here in the county for all to see. A fascinating evening, the event proved a wonderful success for The Presentation Centre and no doubt they'll be hoping to welcome the bonafide Limerick legend back again soon to delve even further into our plentiful tales of the past.