On entering the “Eve of All Hallows” Irish Pub and Restaurant one rainy, dark, dreary chill of a slowly dying day one late October Halloween evening, I was surprised to hear the Proprietor sing out in his usual whimsical baritone the words “Oyez! Oyez! This inaugural meeting of the Anglo-Irish Diabolical Dublin Debating Society is duly called to order on this Halloween night” and he was immediately upstaged by an Aston Villa soccer fan imitating Deon Dublin (flying the flag of St. George) and a resident from the hamlet of Afton Villa near Neon Dublin (and flying the flag of St. Patrick), both of them in a surreal, and dancing wispy cloud of disintegrating cigarette and cigar smoke which was made even more dense, diabolical and intimidating by an unknown cloud of a suddenly inwardly downdraft of disfiguring, wafting and decaying fog-like shroud of an evening mist, partially mixing with the inevitable post-combustible motor car exhausts wafting inwards from the street, and which could be silently heard, sensed and smelt, but not seen. What was even more unexplained was the way in which the nearest regular and usual crowd of customers, gathered around the bar littered with half-empty glasses of lager, whiskey, and Guinness, suddenly disappeared into this “cloud of unknowing” and to this date, as it appeared to me, once again, they may have never been seen again. What happened next was beyond the belief of even my own supernatural imagination and ameliorating awareness.
I was suddenly alerted by what appeared to be the ghost of a long-dead English magistrate, who silently floated upwards from his crimson pleated armchair, and in a hollow, monotonous drone, and speaking directly to an unknown and newly assembled transparently Irish Republican crowd of a very boisterous, bawdy and bellowing assemblage of the tavern’s now seemingly new but outdated collection of a quaint semi- and fully inebriated clientele, whose skeletons were causing a clattering, clanking and rattling cacophony of noise, he began reading the British Riot Act of 1714. He precisely commenced with “you are all chargeth and commandeth to disperse yourselves, and peacefully depart to your habitations or lawful businesses, upon the pains contained in the Act made in the year 1714 for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, God save the King!” Not to be outdone, a long dead Irish magistrate got up from his emerald pleated armchair and started reading the Irish Code Duello of 1777. He loosely commenced with “the first offense requires the first apology, and hopefully the retort is more offensive than the insult, the aggressor to pardon in express terms. All blows are strictly prohibited between Gentlemen as no verbal apology can be received for such an insult, especially after the parties have taken their ground. Any insult to a lady under a Gentleman’s care or protection is to be considered, as by one degree, a greater offense than if given to the Gentleman personally, and to be regulated accordingly. Challenges are not to be rendered after dark unless the party to be challenged intends leaving the place of offense before morning. Seconders are bound to attempt a reconciliation before the meeting takes place, whereas any conflict to agitate the nerves and make the hands shake will end the business for the day.” Without further ado, there developed a second noisy rush of speeding footsteps and hastily appropriated overcoats, with the remaining terrified, closeted and regulars and the smaller cluster of romantics snogging in The Snug, ran screaming, swearing and slandering their way out through the nearest windows, doors and staircases of this said abode, and never, to this day, it would have appeared to me, in my imagination, that they might not have been similarly witnessed or known to frequent the “Eve of All Hallows” Pub ever again.
Approaching the now long-dead magistrates, in what now seemed to be the now empty bar and restaurant, I was visibly shaken by a sudden sensation of being surrounded by the risibility, jocundity and blitheness from the newly arrived ghostly presences, which decompressed into a suddenly demystifying crowd of what I took to be a much smaller eclectic group of ethereal but a very articulate minority gathering of Anglo-Irish ghosts of aristocratic Lords and Ladies of a Presbyterian influence; and an unequally giggling, snickering, sniggering, tittering, guffawing, chortling, chuckling, cackling, cachinnating, roaring and shrieking of a much larger dyslectic gathering of the previously assembled inarticulate majority of Irish Republican ghostly characters of a sinful Catholic persuasion, themselves similarly dispensed into a similar decaying mist of confessional ambiance. At this point the proprietor re-appeared and newly-declared that the “spokesman for the English decadency in Ireland would be Malcolm S. Forbes” which was immediately followed by intermittent, disinterested, impolite skeletal applause from the few apparitions dressed in the sartorial elegance of yesteryear, “and whose notables shall include John Millington Synge, Samuel Beckett, Oliver Goldsmith, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats, to name just many of the few” he concluded. Not to be outdone or overcome, our humble proprietor droned on in his continuous baritone that “the spokesman for the Irish Ascendancy in England will be James Joyce,” and he was met by a sudden, spontaneous, skeletal, evaporating and tumultuous welcome which erupted in the very midst of a seemingly-standing ovation, with righteous shrieking and deafening applause by the assemblage of poorly clad, sock-less, and semi-barefoot laborers of the agricultural classes, “and whose Quotables shall include Flan O’Brien, Patrick Kavanaugh, Brendan Behan, Sean O’Casey, and George Bernard Shaw, to name a few of the many.”
Now here is where the very strange part of my evening really began. All of a sudden, what appeared to be the ghost of Malcolm S. Forbes then appeared, and in a deep, resounding, hollow voice announced that “for more decades than London politicos like to remember, Ireland’s literary might has been making and unmasking British parliaments and masking and unmaking British Prime Ministers,” continued the Scottish Forbes, instantaneously turning the Catholic Irish Republican apparitions into a threatening group of very disagreeable Paddy’s. “Them’s fightin’ words.....” mumbles the newly arrived ghost of Finn McCool, now suddenly appearing to be the ghostly pale-faced rider of the Irish Republican group, as the clamorous, clandestine, and smaller Cameron Clan of Anglo-Irish notables rattled their way selectively backwards. “A Priest in the house and a pump in the yard is no measure of Irish success,” continues the newly arrived ghost of the great Sean O’Casey, “and who is going to speak for our forgotten dead and forever departed, many of them lying dead by the side of the road with slivers of grass sticking out of the sides of their mouths, and their native lands summarily confiscated, disposed, deprived, divested and trodden underfoot by the boots of British oppression, their human souls grist for the mill and flotsam for the tide, their pedestrian soles, their equestrian foals, their trimester roles, their molester bowls, and their sequester souls occupied by the debris, detritus, dregs, degradation, delinquency, disembowelment, despair, detritus, disaster, drunkenness and detestable dialogue of the proliferating prostitutes and declining destitution of a dying British Colonial Empire.” This had the instantaneous reaction of turning the Protestant Anglo-Irish apparitions into a threatening group of very disagreeable fellows. “Them’s fightin’ words.....” mumbles the ghost of Oliver Cromwell, now suddenly appearing to be the ghostly face-paled rider of the Anglo-Irish group, as the much larger dyslectic gathering of the inarticulate majority of Irish Republican ghostly characters of the aforementioned sinful Catholic persuasion rattled their way selectively backwards.
In the meantime, I had this sudden strange feeling that I was on the banks of the River Liffey in Ye Olde Dublin Towne, and it was June 16th, 1904, and on that Bloomsday, that fun day, that Thursday, the very appearance of an ethereal James Joyce himself evolved from the dank, damp, disintegrating and dissolving banks of the opposite side of the River Liffey and declared to all the Heavens and to all the Earth that “nobody in the World understands me.” He was visibly shaken, and I could hear the clinking rattle of the startle of his skeleton when I yelled back “well, I do.” “And I’m in a prison without healing, with a very strange feeling, and the mice in me cell is all squealing,” mumbles the ghost of Brendan Behan, suddenly appearing on the banks of London’s Royal Canal, and now happily accompanied by a ghostly spirit of his own imagination, the ‘Quare Fella himself. “And I wouldn’t doubt it, or clout it, or boxing-bout worry about it” continues the ghost of James Joyce, now wrapped in a flowing black robe of a dark, Sun-less day and a stark Moon-less night, with the blood-green words ‘The Scholastic Irishman’ scorched into his forehead, and spontaneously screaming at the top of his ghostly chatter, in his brogue and natter, that the real matter was that “Ireland, Ireland, this lovely land that always sent, her writers and artists to banishment; and in the spirit of Irish fun, betrayed her leaders, one by one.” This was followed by great applause and cracking of their knuckles by an ever-increasing crowd of the ghosts of long-forgotten Irish men and women. Following this thunderous ovation, and with ethereal grace, encumbering a cloudless face, at a leisurely pace, the face-less ghost of George Moore finally stands up to make a speech. “My one claim to originality among Irishmen it that I have never made a speech….,” he starts off, but with a clash of lemur-less femurs and non-humorous humoruses, the ‘Quare Fella’s coat-less ghost starts off panting and ranting again with “well, don’t start now, and the less we hear from Moore the better!” Then I was aware of a ghostly, whiter shade of pale silence slowly wafting above the skeleton heads of the noted assemblage, and a polite applause and clicking of their fingers by the ever-decreasing crowd of Anglo-Irish ghostly apparitions, which then faded into the doom of the room and the gloom of the fateful evening I was experiencing.
One last apparition, in magnificent condition, now materialized and stated “I propose to bring Bill into Parliament and deprive all of you who wish to publish these theses and subject you all to peculiar penalties,” concluded the tartan-clad ghost of Lord John Campbell, who, with one dilapidated long wave of his long, bony forearm, led the assembled gathering into a drowning and dropping fog, and up into the hills and into the heather; he tapped his sporran, his kilt, his tam and his feather; and just like that, they were gone. The whole bloody lot of them.
Ring, ring, ring, ring……….! It was the alarm clock that woke me up from my afternoon nap. It was 5 pm. The “Eve of All Hallows” Irish Pub and Restaurant didn’t open until 6 pm. I would be there at my usual time. It was a rainy, dark, dreary chill of a slowly dying day one late October evening when I finally made it to the door, and I wasn’t a bit surprised to hear the Proprietor sing out in his usual whimsical baritone, the words “good evening, Leon O’Chruadhlaoich, your usual table, your usual pint and the usual bacon and cabbage?” “Auch Aye, laddie” I said as I sat down in my usual crimson pleated armchair, laid my usual overcoat on the usual adjacent emerald pleated armchair, and settled into the usual dancing wispy cloud of disintegrating cigarette and cigar smoke partially mixing with the inevitable post-combustible motor car exhausts wafting inwards from the street, as usual, and which could be silently heard, sensed, and smelt but not ever seen. Once again, I became acclimatized to the usual very boisterous, bawdy and bellowing assemblage of the tavern’s semi- and fully inebriated clientele, the regular and usual crowd of customers gathered around the bar littered with half-empty glasses of lager, whiskey and Guinness, the smaller eclectic group of the articulate minority, the even smaller cluster of romantics snogging in the Snug, and the larger dyslectic group of the inarticulate majority laughing and joking between themselves. Ho Hum, I thought, just another evening in the neighborhood pub, nothing unusual, just like any other evening…..