Excerpt: Once in

SCENE 3

[Morning. ALLISTER is in his chair, reading the paper. FERGUS enters through the door. The weather is on the radio in the background]

Fergus

Good morning, Allister.

Allister

Good morning.

Fergus

[FERGUS points to the radio.]

There’s one thing I really miss from Cork. All you hear on the radio is English. It would nice to hear someone speaking Irish again.

Allister

Dia duit a Fergus.

Fergus

Dia’s Muire duit a Allist

[FERGUS stops, surprised]

Wait.  Christ Jesus! You speak Irish?

Allister

[Smiling]

Ahh. It seems you haven’t pinned down everything about the old copper, have you?

Actually, a few years ago, some of the big brass decided street coppers should know a bit of Irish… just in case, you know.

Fergus

I’ve never heard of someone from the Constab speak Irish.

Allister

I dare say you won’t. It didn’t go very far, I’m afraid. But, I do remember a little bit.

Fergus

What happened?

Allister

Well, the mucky-mucks in Belfast didn’t really understand that the Irish spoken in Ulster might be different from the Irish spoken in Munster, or Connaught, or anywhere else for that matter. The teacher had a strange accent. All that happened was that when you tried to talk to people, they didn’t understand you.

To be honest, no real street criminal wanted to hear coppers speak Irish anyway.

Fergus

What kind of Irish did they teach you? Was it some really thick way of speaking, like from the Aran Islands or somewhere in the back of Kerry?

Allister

No. The teacher was from New York City.

Fergus

New York Ci…? What kind of fecking Irish do they speak in New York City?

Allister

The New York kind, I guess. As sure as hell not the Ulster kind.

[FERGUS and ALLISTER look at each other and smile. They both start to chuckle and then start laughing uncontrollably. Mrs. McCreedy looks in through the doorway, looking confused.]

Mrs. McCreedy

I’m not sure I want to even know.

Fergus

Good morning to you, Mrs. McCreedy.

Allister

Good morning, Mrs. McCreedy.

Mrs. McCreedy

Good morning to you both. There’ll be a lunch in a bit, if you’re interested.

Allister

A bit of lunch would be delightful, Mrs. McCreedy.

Fergus

I would love some, but I have to take a wee run out later and I’ll find something when I’m out.

Mrs. McCreedy

At the pub, I expect.

Fergus

Of course. Now, their food is nothing the likes of yours, Mrs. McCreedy. But, I fancy dropping in on a few friends for a gab and a bit of lunch. [FERGUS smiles] And, maybe a pint…

Mrs. McCreedy

You know how I feel about drunkenness, Mr. Kennedy. You had best be sober when you come through my door.

Fergus

Now, my dear Mrs. McCreedy. You know that I have never entered your home in anything other than a state of most sublime sobriety.

Mrs. McCreedy

[MRS. McCREEDY glowers at FERGUS.]

Remember my rules, Mr. Kennedy. There will be no drunkenness in my home.

[MRS. McCREEDY leaves through the door.]

Fergus

I don’t believe it’s possible to forget any of Mrs. McCreedy’s rules.

Allister

Neither do I.

It must be good to get together with old friends every so often.

Fergus

You’ve none here?

Allister

No. I was in Down before we moved here. I’d like to sit down with a few of the lads and reminisce a bit. If I did though, I’d not be coming home to Mrs. McCreedy’s. I don’t think her rules would be able to take it.

Fergus

Constabulary officers? Public drunkenness? Tsk, tsk.

Allister

We were not drunk, Mr. Kennedy. We were “happy.”

Fergus

I’ve been happy, myself.

I’m not that worried about Mrs. McCreedy’s rules since, I don’t have to worry about drinking enough to get “happy.” Any more than a pint now and I wouldn’t stay awake long enough to walk home.

Allister

Welcome to getting older, Fergus. We can’t hold our liquor and we live in the past.

Fergus

[Pensively]

The past. The youngsters don’t understand the past. They don’t appreciate it at all.

Allister

No. The new fellas never understood how hard it was to be a copper in the old days. I guess the IRA people now feel the same way.

Fergus

I guess they do.

Allister

Think of the history you’ve seen. You were in the Dublin Post Office with Éamon de Valera. You served in the Easter Rising. You know Éamon de Valera, the President of Ireland.

Fergus

I knew the man who is the President of Ireland. My God. That was more than 50 years ago. If de Valera saw me today, do you think he’d recognise me? He’d be wondering, “Who the hell is that old bugger?”

Allister

Fergus, he’s over 90 years old. He’s the old bugger.

[Pause]

Did you think, back then, that you’d eventually win?

Fergus

There’s them that says we didn’t win… not until they reclaim the other 6 counties.

Ah, the truth of it is, when the British were pounding us with artillery that I didn’t figure we’d live to see the next day. And, when the bastards… no offence…

[ALLISTER stares at FERGUS]

…when the bastards captured us, most of us figured we’d be executed. They hauled a lot of us off to Kilmainham Jail. Then, they executed the leaders, Padraig and Willie Pearse, James Connolly, Michael Hanrahan…

They didn’t execute de Valera though. I don’t know why.

Allister

I do.

Fergus

You do?

Allister

Oh, yes. Remember what the year was… 1916. England was deep into the First World War. They wanted the Americans to join in, and didn’t want to offend them by executing de Valera.

Fergus

How?

Allister

Don’t you know where he’s originally from? New York City.

[FERGUS stares at ALLISTER for a few seconds. Then ALLISTER starts to laugh quietly. FERGUS joins in and they both laugh uncontrollably.

Black]

Advertisements