John McCullagh June 25, 2004
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Those trained in music can read a score and ‘hear’ the symphony in the mind’s ear, much as the rest of us hear it in reality when it is played professionally. 
 
You could, I suppose, be trained to ‘hear’ the storyteller in a similar fashion from the printed page (or electronic page in our case!) but only if you have often heard the master storyteller in action.  All the usual reservations printed before apply to your reading of the following tale.
 
‘On the hip of Slieve Gullion mountain there lived two women, and I’ll tell you what they done for forty-five years. 
 
They conveyed one another to first Mass in Mullaghbane every Sunday morning. 
 
Walked and talked the whole way over: walked and talked the whole way back:  and talked all the way through mass as well.
 
Lizzie and Bridget was their names, and one Sunday morning they went over to mass and when they went over the Chapel was full up with young people. 
 
Armagh were away to be bet some place the same Sunday!
 
The very minute Mass was over there was a stampede for the door and Lizzie and Bridget were waylaid in the crowd – rent asunder – and when Bridget got out till the chapel gates, what the blazes do you think Lizzie was doing? 
 
She was standing there talking to two returned Yanks. 
 
Great big Yankee man about six fut four with a white hat on him, smoking a cigar the length of a poker, and a nice, nate little bit of a Yankee woman with short sleeves on her and a big, glossy handbag that ye cud put two bales of straw in if ye were badly stuck. 
But God bless the mark, two elbows like two corkscrews.
 
When Bridget got out to the gate she didn’t want to be standin’ looking at her…  at Lizzie, with her mouth open like a melodian.   She walked on. 
 
An’ in no time at all Lizzie overtook her on the road: an’ when Lizzie overtook her, Bridget turns round and says,  {whinging voice!}
 
”Who was the great swells ye were talking to at the chapel gates this morning?’  
 
{High-pitched answer!}
 
‘Ah well, ye’ll not believe it, she says, when I tell you. 
 
Home from America, and know our Michael’s Pat that went to New York, and they’re comin’ up to see me, she says, on Tuesday evening.’
 
‘Oh Lord, says Bridget, that’ll put ye to a dale of bother!’ 
 
As jealous as the devil.  
 
‘Bother, she says, what bother will it put me till?’
 
‘Oh, she says, ye’ll have till wheel out the bicycle in the morning, she says, get into town and buy a bottle of whisky for them, she says, and buy mate for them, she says, and buy cakes for them, for the devil in hell wouldn’t stuff them aul’ Yanks whenever they come home.  
 
The Lord have mercy on me mother and father had them home in 1933 and we didn’t get the better of them yit! 
 
{Aside: This was the year before last!}
 
‘They’ll put me to no bother whatsoever in this world, says Lizzie, for I’ll tell you what I have yonder at the house. 
 
I have a gander that was left on me hands at Christmas, she says, and I’ll go home now, she says, and I” catch him, she says, and I’ll neck him, she says, and I’ll pluck him, she says, and I’ll gut him, she says, and I’ll stuff him, she says, and I’ll roast him, she says, and I’ll have him for the Yanks whenever they come.’
 
 {At fast speed!}
 
An’ home she went, and she caught him, and she necked him, and she plucked him, and she gut him, and she stuffed him, and she roast him and she had him… 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and eleven o’clock come on Tuesday evening, and no Yank appeared.
 
And the following Sunday morning she went over the road and she met Bridget and the first thing Bridget said to her was,
 
‘Well, she says, How did ye get on with the Yanks?’
 
‘Ah, says Lizzie, shure they never appeared!’
 
‘Och, says Bridget, and isn’t it an awful shame!  An’ the Christmas bird going bad on yer hands like that!’
 
‘Ah no! says Lizzie, the bird didn’t go bad on me hands.’
 
‘Oh well, she says, ye had to give him away?’
 
‘No, she says, I didn’t give him away.’
 
‘An’ what then in the name of God did ye do with him?’
 
‘I ate him, she says, meself.’
 
‘The whole gander?  Yerself??’
 
‘I did, she says, and not a bit of bother on me.’
 
‘Ah, the Lord save us, says Bridget, me heart will stop!  For a woman to do the likes of that!’
 
‘An’ what harum was it, says she, for me to ate what I reared up from a goose egg?’
 
‘Harum! she says, ah but ye’re an ignorant woman!  Pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. 
Gluttony! Says she.  One of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Stuck right there in the middle of them, she says. 
 
Get away from about me, she says, for if ye fell in the road, says she, ye’d be on the lowest hob in hell, she says, before I cud get the priest for ye,’ she says.
 
Poor Lizzie.  If she had to be stuck with a penknife on the road, she wouldn’t ‘ve dropped one drop of blood, she was that taken in.
 
Went to the chapel and she didn’t hear one word that the priest said, she was that taken in annoyance.  Went home.  Cudn’t sleep Sunday or Monday night:  Tuesday night or Wednesday night.  But Thursday night, be good luck, was Confessions night for the First Fridays. 
 
Over she went.  Chapel full up.  An’ the priest was in an awful hurry.  He was letting them in and out of the confession box, just like shuttlecocks.  No good at all for an aul’ woman who was after committing a mortal sin. 
 
Ye see, there was a card-playing in the Hall the same night and the priest was mad afire to get away up to it.  And after a lot of jostling and pushing, she got in.  And when she got in, he said, 
 
{Priest’s wheedling voice}
 
How long is it since your last Confession?’
 
‘Eh, well now, Father, she says, just this day month.  Sure I’m doing the Nine Fridays, she says, now for forty-five years.’
 
‘Oh very good, indeed, he says, forty-five years.  Now, what do you remember from when you were last here?’
 
‘Well, I committed one of them Deadly Sins now, Father, she says.
 
The one that’s stuck right in the middle of them, she says.
 
An’ you know, with all the crowd and everything, it’s away out of my head!
 
Ye’ll have to give me a minute now, Father, she says. 
 
An’ he was fidgeting for he was in a hurry for to get up to the cards.  She says,
 
‘Ugh, aye, I have it.  I committed adultery!’
 
{Sombre tone}  ‘I’m indeed aggrieved to hear this confession this evening.  Especially from a woman in the autumn of her life.
 
After doing the Nine Fridays for forty-five years!’
 
Och, aye.  A great man in the box was that same priest!
 
‘What in the name of all that’s merciful came over you to do such a thing?’
 
…..
 
‘Well there he was, Father, lying above on the table with his two legs up.
 
An’ him nice and brown.
 
An’ I put me hand over, she says, and when I got the taste of it, she says,
 
the devil tuk me!’
 
 
 
 
 

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