On the Banks of My Own Lovely Lee

It has been 375 days since I’ve last been in Cork. A year and ten days. Prior to this, the longest I had stayed away from the Rebel County was for four months when I studied in New Paltz, upstate New York. I was home that Christmas and didn’t really miss it as I was studying in this new, exciting environment. This time, up until the year mark I hadn’t really missed the People’s Republic at all. I missed the people, my family and friends and the craic we have, but I never really thought about the place that much. It was almost as if a switch was flipped on the 365th day. All of these fond memories came flooding back of places around the city and the countryside. I realised I missed Cork more than I let myself believe, and there is plenty to miss.

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I miss living a thirty second walk from the G.A.A. pitch, climbing over the fence to go smash footballs and sliotars wide of the post.
I miss living a ten minute walk from the local pub, the Country Squire, putting pints away until the wee hours.
I miss playing Championship in Ballinlough with Rathpeacon, especially when we beat Whitechurch in the football six years ago.
I miss going to town with the older lads on the team, getting into the Secret Garden at 18 years old because you knew someone who knew the bouncer. That was a great feeling.

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I miss going to the Woolen Mills in Blarney and looking at the Americans buy about twenty Aran sweater vests for their family portraits later in the year.
I don’t miss working there, though, for the exact same reason!
I miss seeing all the old school friends as we drink together in the Muskerry Arms, old stories retold, as funny as the day they happened, especially the ones about drinking underage in the GAA woods.

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I miss Dino’s potato pie meal, Hillbilly’s chicken tenders meal, but most of all, I miss Sloppy Foley’s from Murphy’s chipper in Blackpool. Pure perfection.
I miss walking through Blackpool to the city, passing by the Heineken Brewery and smelling the making of my favourite drink.
I miss the view of the Opera House as you come upon the Christy Ring Bridge.
I miss going to plays in the Cork Arts Theatre, the Opera House and the Everyman.

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I miss grabbing a coffee in Gloria Jean’s in the Savoy and then walking toward Grand Parade. You never know who you’ll see on your travels but you will see at least two people you know.
I miss walking up Washington Street, looking in all the shop windows before you see the gates of U.C.C. loom in the distance, and the beauty of Fitzgerald Park not too far behind on the other side of the road.
I miss grabbing a nice pint of Heineken in the Mutton Lane, the nicest bar in Cork, in my opinion, before walking through the English Market, smelling the fish, the cakes, the vegetables and listening to the chat.
I miss sitting in Peace Park watching the pigeons startle themselves in the water of the fountain.

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I miss going to Mahon Point and spending an absolute bomb in the food court and the Omniplex. Also, the Reel Picture in Blackpool is better which is a true fact.
I miss going to the cinema on my own, too, in fairness.
I miss going to the Guitar Shop on MacCurtain street and Pro Musica on Oliver Plunkett street, playing for a while before realising I’m broke.

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I miss the bars in Cork. I know the bouncers can be a bit tough to deal with sometimes but I can also be a drunken ass, so let’s call it quits when I’m back, yeah?
I miss the carnage that appears on Oliver Plunkett street on a weekend night. Good carnage, but carnage all the same.
I miss the taco sauce from John Grace’s, especially after a feed of beer.
I miss the music in the Oliver Plunkett or the Crane Lane.

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I miss my family and friends too and will probably mention them in different posts but this is just about a place. It’s also about mainly food and drink huehuehue. A place my family moved to when I was nine years old. It is the place that made me into a more confident young man and is the place where I made my best friends, bar college and woodlwan of course. I will be back next month for a while. Who knows how long for? I certainly don’t. It is funny that these thoughts only came into my head since the year mark passed. I don’t know how my friends out here who literally can’t go home have been able to do it for three years and some change. Fair dues to them. I think I could manage it but I can only imagine how tough it must be. I am lucky that next month I won’t have to miss it as I return to the banks of my own lovley Lee.

Angela’s Christmas

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This 30-minute wonder of a film is on U.S. Netflix and is perfect for small kids, parents (the 1st time), and people who work the night shift. Now, if you’re not a kid, not my cousin Bridget who has been forced to watch it hundreds of times by her two-year old, or me on the nightshift, maybe you won’t want to give it a chance. But I promise you, it is only half an hour and a nice story with only a small dash of sadness and death. Just like any other Irish film!

Angela’s Christmas, based on the novel ‘Angela and the Baby Jesus’, by Frank McCourt, is a beautiful little tale about Angela, of course, and the adventure she gets up to on Christmas Eve night.
Angela, her two brothers, younger sister and mother are heading to Christmas Eve mass, and Angela is holding them up while getting ready. Her older brother Patrick is complaining about her and incessantly whinging. Straight away, we see that Patrick is suffering from middle-child syndrome and just unlikeable. Ugh, I wanted to punch the screen. Feck off Patrick, the movie’s called Angela’s Christmas, not Patrick’s Day.
On the way to the church Patrick and Angela bicker back and forth, with Patrick maintaining his annoying personality. After finally sitting down, Angela realises that the baby Jesus in the manger does not have a blanket or a jacket on. Being five, she doesn’t realise that he is a statue and he therefore cannot feel the cold. She formulates a plan, and when her family leave mass to return home, she steals the baby Jesus so she can keep him warm.
On her own way home, Angela bumps into a blind, one-legged beggar, a kind policeman and a bar full of elderly drunks. Once in the door, she tucks the baba into bed and sings ‘Angela’s Song’, a lovely little lullaby. Unfortunately, Patrick the prized pr*ck rats her out, and she fears she may be in trouble. Thankfully, her mother, instead of getting annoyed and punishing Angela, tells the story of Angela’s birth, and how important it is to be together as a family at Christmas. Angela, apparently being able to understand subtext at 5 years old, knows she must bring the baby Jesus back to the manger.

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The whole family set off to return the statue, the world not seeming so scary for Angela on her own anymore. Despite returning 8 pound 6 oz, newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, but still omnipotent, baby Jesus, the family are caught by the priest. He calls a guard over to throw the thief in jail but, lo and behold, it is the same guard from earlier! He shows more kindness and lets them free to be together on Christmas Eve.

A truly heartwarming tale, I was shocked to find out that some people wrote to me and said that there is a popular fan theory that Angela, in her quest to first steal the baby Jesus, hits her head on her fall from the pew. The rest of the movie is actually in Angela’s head as she survives in the hospital. I would just like to say that that is not true and those people should never, ever contact me again. Freaks. No better than Patrick in the movie. Although he had a sweet redemption arc.
Dolores O’Riordan sings Angela’s Song during the credits and it is worth it for that alone, seeing as it is almost a year since she sadly died.

Catch this flick on Netflix or get it on cheap blu-ray at the flea markets in Chelsea.

The Changing of the Guard / 4 Train

Packed like sardines in an old tin can we push and squeeze and excuse me.
There are no ‘sorry’s here in the no man’s land that is the middle of the cart.
Hands cling to rails and heads are burrowed in books and phones
While homeless people tell sad stories that would break your heart
If you didn’t hear the same story two homeless people ago.
Oftentimes the same story is told with little differences,
Like instead of a sick son it is a girl or wife,
But people don’t care for any of these hindrances
Because we all have places to go and people to see
In this Amazon jungle of a city.

We hurtle along between 59th and 86th at breakneck speeds,
Planting our feet in position to sway with the machine
As the conductor announces a delay at Grand Concourse.
A collective groan rises up, everybody taking part
In this collective self-pity parade of head shakes,
Low mutters and sighs of frustration.
Eventually, finally, behind schedule as usual
the 4 train pulls into another station
That is full to the brim of students, teachers, laborers, preachers
And other professions that won’t fit on the train.

My calves begin to cramp as we wobble towards Burnside Avenue,
Still no sign of a seat or even a space to lean against a door
While veteran riders apply makeup and read books while the place rattles around them.
Train etiquette is still observed as space is made for the elderly, poor
And pregnant passengers as the sea parts for such weary travelers.
The carriage almost empties at Mosholu Parkway,
Leaving me the carriage to myself as we glide into Woodlawn, the last stop on this train.
I swap out with tired people at the opposite end of the working day,
An extremely exhausted changing of the guard as haggard looks are exchanged as
They begin their day and I am almost finished mine.

Anal Beads

Part 2 of the Instagram Sessions, coming to you live from a secret location in Chelsea. Today, I delve into the history of a topic brought to my attention by a delinquent friend of mine, who I will not name today. Amidst all the lovely suggestions of writing about beer, Doon G.A.A. and mental health, a certain someone suggested writing about anal beads. I originally planned to have the title in all caps and just write “NO”, under the heading and that would be it. I’d get a laugh out of it and maybe others would get a cheap laugh too. I’ve since thought about it and yes, I will write your post. I’ll play your silly game by my rules.

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This reporter is delighted to bring you an exclusive story fresh from the international creative scene. The American National Artist Liaison, founded in 1975 by Hugh Jass, has announced a partnership with Binge Eating and Excessive Drinking Session ltd, founded in 1993 by Richard ‘Dick’ Butt. The aim of this partnership is to send artists from ANAL to the European headquarters of BEEDS in Dublin to examine the Irish relationship to excessive drinking, binge eating and then drinking again to get over the fear. ANAL and BEEDS have flirted in the past with regards to a similar venture but this time there was no pussyfooting around. Straight in, as Hugh Jass said at the press conference in Anus, France.
“We don’t want to be behind the times,” said Dick Butt. “We want to dive straight in, as Hugh just said, but gently. It’s not like starting a lawnmower. You have to be gentle with the Irish lads, or the beeds as I call them. They might have severe cases of the fear or man flu, and we feel deep in our guts that the artists from America can showcase the plight of the Irish male and his need to binge eat and drink.”
“We are setting up centres for the artists all over Ireland and America. Muff, Co. Donegal and Slickpoo, Idaho, will be our two main thought-centric and idea-haven places where the artists and subjects can get together and really get to the bottom of what’s going on with us males.”
“We’re really excited about this,” continued Jass. “When I made Dick my no.2 on this project I had a feeling that it would all go well. We know that it sounds outlandish. I mean, when you think of the two companies, do you really think anyone will volunteer for this project. Surprisingly, many people did, even outside the businesses. The two main centers in Muff and Slickpoo, as well as numerous support centres in other towns in the two countries, will host hundreds of Irish males in the throes of the fear, as well as artists from across the states who will be attempting to depict our unique ability to soldier on through the fear and the gut you accumulate from a day’s drink, only to do it all again.”

The project will officially be launched in Poo in Spain, allowing the artists and the subjects one last session to tear the arse out of it, but gently.

This has been Cian Dalton, reporting for Rambling House News, on the ANAL BEEDS partnership of 2069. Slan go foill.

Big Brother is Watching

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Looking back on a wonderful year (so far), I can reveal that I have almost no regrets. I’ve had my fair share of fun, visited places I’ve never been, made new friends and caught up with old ones. The only regrets I do have are tied to social media and my tendency to forget to write back to people. I have a built-in function to receive a text, read it in full, process what I will say back to that person and then put the phone down and carry on with my life without completing the interaction. It’s happened so often that I jokingly say to myself, “Jaysus you’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed onto you, hah! You forgetful prick! How can you treat people who want to interact with you like this? You’re going to be alone because everyone replies to each other and you don’t have the decency to even send a thumbs back. Why in the name of all that is good and holy do you even bother talking to people if you’re not going to message them back? I hate you! I can’t stand being your voice of reason because you won’t respond. You sicken me, and more than anything, I pity you. Go on now, go and watch Parks and Rec for the fourth time and forget to RSVP to your cousins’ birthday party.” In an unrelated note, my subconscious is a dick! Great singer, though.
The point is, social media and social sites have allowed us to keep in touch with what is happening in the world at any given moment. Not only that, we willingly give our personal data and money to sites that have publicly admitted to using our data illegally. We can also keep in touch with each other 24/7. Big Brother is watching, and so it seems is everyone else.

  • Snapchat allows us to see when messages are opened.
  • Instagram allows us to see when messages are seen.
  • Messenger allows us to see when people are online/read a message/are typing a response.
  • iMessage sends read receipts and shows when someone is typing.
  • Whatsapp shows two blue ticks when a message is read and allows you to see if that person is online.
  • Viber does the same thing.

These features are fantastic for a number of reasons.

  • Families can interact internationally without paying exorbitant amounts of money to call.
  • Group messages make planning nights out and events easier. The same can be said for projects in college.
  • Meme growth has never been higher! Send your memes now!
  • Catch ups with old friends has never been easier.
  • This is starting to sound like a click-bait ad.
  • Drunk message your ex: You won’t believe what will happen next!

While these are all fantastic upsides to instant contact around the world, we have lost an element of the past that I still hold dear, sometimes without even knowing what I am doing. There used to be a time when you could just say a rhyme and wouldn’t have to worry about one of your people dying….what the fuck just happened? I couldn’t stop the nostalgic flowback to Toy Soldiers. Spooky.
Anyways, before our time, people weren’t so accessible. The advent of smartphones and technology has made us slaves to our phones and slaves to acknowledgement. As soon as a message is sent to us it pops up on our screens. You can delay in replying or even opening it but not forever. Eventually you will have to read the full message and reply back that you will definitely be at the event, or let the person know when you will be in town next, even if you have no intention of doing so. That’s another aspect of instant gratification by way of smartphones. Ghosting and backing out at the last second has increased dramatically in the last few years because instead of agreeing to a time and place and showing up, you now have this handy little tool in your hand that you can send messages on mere hours or minutes before the event where you can back out. Fantastic.

The reason I am rambling on about this is because I am guilty of leaving people on read. I have done this wothout meaning to but I still feel bad afterwards. I feel bad because I have let a friend down and not contacted her when she was new to the city. I feel bad because I let another friend down and didn’t message him back for weeks. I let my cousin down by not letting her know I couldn’t make her son’s birthday party. I let myself down because it’s not polite to ignore people, whether it is intentional or not.
At the same time though, I value my space and if I don’t message you back right away just let me know. If I ignore you after constant messaging it is best just to leave me be. I’ve moved on.

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I’ve been called many things in this short life of mine. Handsome. Devilishly handsome. Stupidly handsome. Champion. Concierge extroardinaire. The King of Prussia. A poor man’s Prince Harry. A rich man’s Jesse Plemons. A premium athlete. Spartacus. Almost All-Star hurling wing-back of the Junior Shield competition in New York. The King of Prussia again. But to call me a bad texter and a bad friend would be erroneous. Please don’t be facetious when dealing with me. It borders on malevolence. I do truly apologise for the hurt I’ve caused over the years.

Austin, Texas.

Hear ye, hear ye! Throwback Thursday is upon us, and another tale of debaucherous depravity and wholesome bonding needs to be shared! Read this account of four glorious days in the sweltering Texas heat and laugh at stories of falling asleep where I shouldn’t have and Tom pantsing himself in a busy bar on sixth street.

At the beginning of the year, the lads and I would often find ourselves discussing where we would like to spend a vacation over the summer. We decided to go on a group holiday at some stage during the year, eventually settling for our friend John’s thirtieth birthday. With Brian also moving to San Fran just before the summer months, we thought somewhere hot, close to us both and most importantly, fun, would suffice.
Austin, Texas, would be our destination. I had a friend who lived in Austin for a year or two and everyone else had also heard good things. We got a group of ten of us to sign a blood pact that we would all definitely go. Two dropped out and mysteriously disappeared. Strange how things happen like that.
No, in all seriousness, a group of eight was perfect. We booked our flights, Tom booked the Air BnB and we spent the next few months talking about the craic that we were going to have in Texas.

As all good Irish citizens do, we went out the night before our early morning flight and got absolutely hammered. I stumbled back to the apartment at 4:30 AM Friday morning to find all the lads in either a state of unconsciousness or zombie-like packing. It wasn’t a pretty sight but we ordered an Uber and made the flight.
My hangover kicked in just as we entered Austin, so the first thing on the metaphorical menu and the only thing on the restaurant menu, was sandwiches and beers. After wolfing these down we made our way to our apartments that Tom had booked. A tip of the cap to Tom because the two rooms were unreal. All we were going to use the rooms for was for small reprieves from drinking. There was a pool in the complex right outside our doors. Our neighbors who sat outside their door observing the action were smoking weed so we knew they probably wouldn’t mind our excessive drinking and partying.
After a bite to eat at the Haymaker pub across the road and a dip in the pool along with multiple bottles and cans, we Uber’d our way to 6th street. The only way I can describe 6th street for any people from Cork who haven’t been to Austin is that it resembles Grand Parade and Washington St. on a weekend night. Except it is like this all the time. Madness. Carnage. Beautiful.
Despite our tired limbs and minds after over twenty four hours on the sesh, we soldiered on. I fell asleep outside some apartment block and awoke to a very angry man shouting down at me from his window to, “Move! We don’t like people sleeping on our sidewalk!” I never thought you did sir. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate. Please excuse me and have a wonderful night.
I somehow got back to the complex to find the door wouldn’t open, and I may have had some choice words for my dear friend James when he tried to tell me what the problem was. I apologise James. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate, and am a grumpy bastard when I am rudely awoken from my sidewalk slumber.

Saturday was a brilliant day. We all had a bit of sleep and crossed over to the Haymaker again for a bit of grub. From there we made our way to a gun range just outside the city. I had never been to one before and I don’t mind saying that even with all of the safety talks and assurances that once we respected the gun and the rules that everything would be O.K., as soon as I held one in my hand I was absolutely shitting myself. Not literally. There’s a code to uphold in these places and of course, the man code*, but I was apprehensive. We all took turns on the different firearms. For the life of me I can’t recall any of their names bar the Uzi. What I do remember is I didn’t have a bad shot. None of us did. We all came away with a bit more confidence in our shooting. All except for John. He knew what he was doing. I’m not being sound because it was his birthday trip, it’s just the truth. John turned the gun sideways, held it in one hand and put out a gangland hit on the head of the target. The next sheet came out and John shot him six times in the throat. That target had a fucking family John, and you couldn’t even give him an open casket.
6th street was the port of call again that night and it was epic. We were familiar with a few of the bars from the previous night and familiarised ourselves with a few more. In one such bar we were dancing with a group of girls. There was eight of us and five of them. Not to be crass, but the odds were looking good for us boys, even just to have a group of girls for drinking buddies for a portion of the night. Enter Tom. I have a few memories etched into my brain from the weekend but the one that sticks out the most is this. Our two groups had widened into a circle, letting one of us after the other enter the center and display our moves. Tom leaned into my ear and said “Will I take off my pants?”. I immediately responded no, and laughed it off, looking back at the group. Seconds later, almost as if in slow motion, Tom had strutted by me, taking his place in the centre and proceeded to drop his trousers. Never in my life had I been so surprised and it seems so too were the girls as they screamed and ran to the other end of the bar. No exaggeration. They literally screamed and ran away. Anyways, Tom is a legend.
Nobody fell asleep on any sidewalks. A stripclub was visited but nobody fell aleep there, thank God.

We booked a boat party for the Sunday afternoon. None of us packed enough sunscreen and we each came away with savage burns but it was worth it. Out in the depths of lake Austin we drank copious amounts of beer and flirted with the girls on the next boat over. We had our own boat for the eight of us driven by a lovely man whose name I can’t recall, but as we glided over the water and passed by extravagant houses, I knew we had made the right choice in coming to Austin.
We saw other boats in the distance and we blasted ‘Westmeath Bachelor’ by the late, great Joe Dolan as we neared them. I’m sure they thought a tribe of gypsies had commandeered a boat and were taking over.
‘2002’ by Anne-Marie and ‘Shotgun’ by George Ezra played on repeat the whole day. I often wake up in a cold sweat with the chorus of Shotgun reverberating around my skull. I haven’t slept properly in months.

Taking a break from 6th street, we chose Rainy street for our last night. I arrived late because the tiredness, a.k.a, booze, caught up with me and I took an impromptu nap. We had a great last night, made better by the fact that myself and John got the Uber driver to drive to a diner. We got some feed and he charged us a bomb!

As with any trip, it was a sombre last day. Brian went back to Cali, the rest of us went back to New York and I went straight to work. My prayers had evidently not been answered as the building was still standing and I had to work the night shift. That was a tough shift to work as I just wished that I was back soaking up the sun, smoking too many cigarettes and getting as drunk as could be with the lads. All the spectacular descriptive words couldn’t do that weekend justice. I’ll go for something simple, succint and true.

It was class.

*The man code is one article and it states that a man should never shit himself in public under any circumstances, unless he is a mouldy feen on the sauce hahaha, chalk it down keeeed.**

**Disclaimer: I have never shit myself on a night out. Rag week in 2013 came close, but that was due to undercooked chicken and four nights on the sesh.***

Whiskey: A Tribute

A few weeks ago I asked my friends on Instagram to suggest me some topics to write about. I assured them that I would write about them all, and while I intend to keep that promise, there were a few outlandish ideas that I will have to leave stew for a while. A good friend of mine and fellow local beer connoisseur, Ultan, suggested whiskey. I knew this had to be my first one of the Instagram stories. Writing about dating, politics, mental health and other serious topics can wait. The golden brown elixir was the most serious of them all.

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My first experience with whiskey was probably much the same as most other Irish teenagers. Someone’s older brother or sister bought us cans and naggins in the offie and we drank them in fields or at house parties. While it was a chore to get to the field or the house party with alcohol undetected, they really were simpler times. You and your childhood friends were all getting horrendously drunk at the same time, often for the first time. Being drunk was just dizziness and absolutely everything being funny.
Bushing started out with naggins of Huzzar vodka and cans of Bulmers. After a while I started drinking naggins of Jack Daniels mixed with club orange. Someone said that would make it nice. The liary bastard.
After a few years, once we were all of legal age we would sometimes get a shot of Jack at the bar or possibly a Jack and Coke. We felt so grown up. Drinking whiskey at a bar! Oh, how sophisticated of us. What’s that? Cian’s getting sick with his head in the urinal on the night of his girlfriend’s eighteenth? What a mature young man.

I was actually put off whiskey for a while, not when I got sick in a urinal, surprisingly, but when my buddy Lar, in college, drank a shoulder of Queen Margot one night in the first few weeks of first year. I’ve never seen a man as drunk. Lar’s one of my best friends and that man can put away tens of pints and shots in a night but the whiskey awoke some drunken beast in him. If I still had the photos of what you did to that poor car, Lar! Hahahahaha, all jokes.
Funnily enough, Lar drank another shoulder of whiskey two years later and told me and the lads that he loves us, so there you see the beauty of the two-sided coin that is whiskey.

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It wasn’t until I was finished college and having no clue what to do with my life that I started having the odd Jack and Coke again. I was in a bit of a funk, perhaps and started going mad on the whiskey, then, eventually graduating to Jameson on the rocks. My brother will tell you, there were a few nights in the Old Oak on Oliver Plunkett street a few months before I moved here when I got a bit rowdy on the aul whiskeys. Arguing with and shouting at bartenders and bouncers, getting kicked out, only to go back in the next weekend and do it all again. I’m lucky I wasn’t beat up and down Cork city. I’m lucky I’m tall!
Again, I took a break from the whiskey. I wasn’t really ashamed of my actions because gosh darnit if they had just given me my drink then none of that would’ve happened. I did realise that I was drinking a bit much and that a break from whiskey and Cork might be a good idea. So I decided to move to Woodlawn! Hahahaha it’s like the geographical pot calling the kettle black.
I did go fairly wild there at the end of last summer. And I have continued to go wild since but less often, and I like to think with more dignity. I haven’t woken up in an ambulance or smashed my head off the ground after a night on the whiskey neats in a year. I’m genuinely proud of that.

Once I realised that it wasn’t whiskey’s fault and that I was culpable for my own actions, I went back on the golden sauce. I love a Tullamore Dew on the rocks when I’m off, and I have a few bottles of whiskey stored nearby my bed in case of emergency. I just love whiskey. It has been an on-off relationship but right now it is most definitely on.
I’m over Vodka. I’m over Jaegar. I’m over tequila. I’m definitely over Sambucca. I’m over rum and Captain Morgan’s and the like. I’m still very much in love with beers. I’ve drank em solid for the last eight years. I’ve drank all the other spirits for the same amount of time and the only one that I still have a place in my heart for is all the different types of whiskey.
So give me a Jack and Coke and a shot of Jamo on the side. Give me and Ultan two Tully Dews on the rocks there Charlie when you get a chance, please. I’ll try a scotch tonight sure, why not. Keep the Glenfidditch away from me, it costs an arm and a leg. One glass of Teachers, Midleton, what have you, won’t hurt. You’ll have your best nights, fights, dances and deep meaningful conversations on whiskey.

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In fact, legend has it that the Brazilian art of dance-fighting, Capoeira, was actually invented by a Corkman, Dessie Fitz, after he stumbled into a favela after a stag, drunk on Irish whiskey, and was stuck in limbo between a great dance and a great fight.

Thanks for having me, tip your bartenders, waitresses and your doormen! You’ve been fantastic!

5 absolute bangers you may have forgotten about

Bit of absolute shite pandering ‘journalism’ today! I was carrying out my morning ritual (coffee, cry, poo) and opened YouTube to see Clean Bandit had a new video out for a new song. They are always a good shout for a catchy tune and they always get someone well known or currently trending to sing their tunes. This time, her name was Marina. It struck a memory chord in my head as I reached back to my teenage years to try and place her. The name was so familiar. After much toing and froing I remembered an artist that had a hit or two a while back and then almost disappeared from the mainstream media, or at least my timelines. I’m sure that many people still listened and watched out for new songs. I, however, consigned her to the recent history books. I’m here to refresh your memories with 5 bangers that you might have forgotten about, starting with Marina and the Diamonds.

Marina and the Diamonds – Primadonna
This song is only six years old. What the fuck? I definitely thought that it was at least ten years old. Although, now I think about it, I definitely remember psyching myself up the few months in school before the dreaded Leaving Cert by blasting this full volume in the morning. I gave the bathroom mirror some stellar renditions of “Primadonna Girl” that summer. While the lyrics themselves are completely foreign to me and the song is definitely aimed at the opposite gender, for those four minutes, I really am a Primadonna Girl. And you better believe I gave the bathroom mirror in my current house the same show. Absolute TUNE!


She Hates Me – Puddle of Mudd
I can’t remember the first time I heard this song. I don’t even know if I’ve listened to it more than a handful of times. All I know is that it is a certified banger and any time I hear it I wish I could grow long hair and mosh out. If I grew my hair out I’d look like a young Krusty the Klown, which is ironically my street name in the Bronx.

C’est La Vie – B*Witched
Ah, no one could forget this but it’s an absolute banger and I hadn’t seen the video in ages. Calling this a work of art would be underselling this piece of film. Just look at the matching jean jackets and denim jeans! It is quite possibly the most ’90s thing I’ve ever seen and I also didn’t realize how sexually suggestive some of the lyrics were. God, I love being Irish. Definitely throwing this on the jukebox next time I’m in the Avenue for Thursday Night Football hahaha.

Breathe – Blu Cantrell ft. Sean Paul
I got an iPod nano for Christmas one year off Santa and went out the next week to get some new, hip music. I, a pasty, ginger, freckled twelve year old, walked into Xtra Vision and walked out with the R n’ B Yearbook, 2006. I was a child who knew no bounds when it came to culture and just lived for music. Just kidding, I had no clue what was on the album but thankfully it introduced me to Sean Paul and his wonderful habit of shouting his name every twenty seconds. This song is an absolute CHOON and is the reason why I have a best selling album in Latin America today.

Tragedy – Steps
Ah, this list could have been a compilation of Irish and British girlbands, boybands, mixed bands and so on and so forth. Sugababes almost made it in with Push the Button, and Girls Aloud were close enough too. Just a few decades worth of songs you want to throw on at 2:30 in the morning, absolutely off your face on whiskey-gingers, quickly throwing away your freshly lit cigarette as you hear the opening notes to Keep On Movin’ by Five blast from the DJ’s speakers.
Tragedy made it in because the video is hilarious, you would definitely sing along if it came on the radio and I hope that for humanity’s sake, we forget about it as soon as this post is a week old. Enjoy.

I’ve actually laughed so much writing this. Video after video of pure cheese has just been watched on my laptop. I couldn’t be happier. These bangers just put me in a fantastic mood. To be fair, as much as I might mock them in this post, every person in the videos looked like they were having great craic. Except for Puddle of Mudd. They were thick some girl wasn’t giving them the ride.
Honorable mentions go to Halo, by Beyonce. Everyone should remember every single song of Bey’s, but that one is my personal favourite. Promiscuous by Nellie Furtado and Timbaland was also almost there. Probably more of a banger than Tragedy but this is my blog, and that’s all that matters. Funny anecdote actually, I was in Tijuana, promoting my album and I bumped into Nelly Furtado. She congratulated me on my wonderful blend of Irish folk and Latin energy. I asked her what she was doing in Mexico. She told me she didn’t know where her soul was, or her home. It was a weird interaction but one that I will hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life.

Bohemian Rhapsody: The Show Will Go On

The long awaited Freddy Mercury bipoic opened on Thursday evening in North America to rave reviews. It raced to the top of the weekend’s box office with a projected $35-40 million return. It has beaten out all the other openers this weekend and rightly so. I went to see it in the middle of a split double shift, meaning eight hours on, eight hours off and eight hours on again. I didn’t expect to stay awake throught the whole thing after only a few hours kip but I was rapt with attention throughout.
The film throws up few surprises if any. I saw a few people write that it was predictable and formulaic. I mean, obviously. It’s a biopic of the most popular and most documented frontman in the world. Before the time of smartphones recording our every move, Mercury was in the limelight all the time. Add to the mix that he was a gay man in the ’80s, I think its fair to say that a lot of what he did musically and personally is already well known. Despite this lack of surprise, the movie keeps the viewers attention through witty interactions between the band, tense moments towards the end of the movie and of course, an astounding soundtrack. It helps that the soudtrack is all the band’s catalogue. That band being Queen, in case anyone didn’t know.

Rami Malek is Freddy Mercury. I don’t mean that he is the actor playing the icon, I mean that in this film he IS Freddy Mercury. He inhabits the character and sometimes you almost forget that it isn’t Mercury playing himself with actors surrounding him. That said, Gwilyn Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor and Joseph Mazzelo as John Deacon are all fantastic. Aiden Gillen, Allen Leech and Aaron McCusker are three major Irish talents who star in the movie. Gillen has the same raspy voice as every other character he plays, being John Reid, Queen manager, in this film. Leech, of Downton Abbey fame, plays Paul Prenter, a long-lurking snake in the grass. McCusker plays Mercury’s final love, Jim Hutton. All three put in sound performances with Leech excelling as the slimy Prenter who is intent on playing Freddy against his family, the band.

I listen to Joe.ie and their film review podcast which is very good. They thought that the film was bad and cheesy and only people who didn’t know the full history of queen would enjoy the film as a whole, and not just Malek’s performance. Even though I can see where they are coming from I have to disagree. The film might be a bit jumpy and the early parts of the film seem a bit cheesy but as a whole, the film is very good.

The film comes to an end after the epic 20-minute finale, an almost identical replica of the Live Aid set that Queen performed. Instead of depicting his final years in which he was ravaged by AIDS, some screen caps explain that he died in 1991 and that a charity was set up in his honor to help AIDS victims worldwide. This is extremely fitting as a half an hour before, Mercury, after telling his band and friends that he has the dreaded disease, says, “I will not be their poster boy, their cautionary tale…”. Instead of showing him at his weakest, we see him go out on that incredible high of performing to billions of people all around the world and holding them in a trance like only Freddy Mercury could.

On a related note, are films coming out earlier in Ireland than America? Thought it would be the other way around. On another related note, I’ve been blasting Queen all day and night after watching the film. Shout out to my music teacher Ms. Lucey for introducing us to A Night at the Opera. On an unrelated note, I’m absolutely wrecked and want to sleep for a thousand years.

Boston

A little bit of a throwback for this post. I’ve done a small bit of travelling in my time here and had plans to do some more. Pennsylvania and Nashville were also on my list, as was Washington D.C. to a lesser extent. But I’m happy with the places I did see and the people I got to visit. Travel broadens the mind. To be fair, I did a hell of a lot of drinking on these trips so my mind was probably numbed to all of the life changing experiences but I’ve had my fun, and that’s all that matters.

Back in April I went to visit my friend Katie in Boston. She lives in Cape Cod, in Hyannis. I left the night shift ten minutes early so I could catch a Greyhound Bus from Penn State. Thank God I took those extra minutes because the bus was delayed…for two hours. Greyhound, more like a slow coach….Am I right guys? Guys?
I rolled into South Boston Station after four hours, bleary eyed and crooked-knecked. The views of the city on the highway leading to the station were beautiful. I could see why many J1s and ex-pats choose to spend summers and lifetimes in this city. I was happy to get some fresh hair and after two long years, see my friend again. Katie is hilarious, kind and just a joy to be around. I knew that although my trip would be short, it would still be two days of fun.

We walked around for a while because Katie forgot where she had parked her car but that allowed me to see more of the different parts of the city. Wherever I travel I always love seeing the streets and avenues of a city. There could be a hidden gem anywhere or there could be a cool looking shop. Who knows? I may never be in this place again but I’ll have that little trinket of information in my brain for when I’m an old fart telling nonsense stories to whoever will listen. God help my poor future wife.
We found the car and went to eat. As most people know I’m a picky eater and din’t eat pizza properly until I was 20 years old. Oysters wouldn’t have crossed my mind as a possibility for me and if I had my way I would still not know the taste. Katie ordered some and kindly gave me one. If I was to describe it in a kind way it would be that oysters taste like salty snot sliding down your throat. So give them a shot.
We had a few pints around Boston and ended up in a bar near the street that Paul Revere galloped down when he warned the citizens of the impending British troops. I could almost see it in front of my eyes, the sweaty hands hanging on for dear life as he raced to alert his city about the Brits. Maybe that was the Harpoon IPAs talking. After a few more creamy pints we left the city and made for Cape Cod. We met her boyfriend, Shea, at an Asian restaurant where we drank Muay Thais and ate dumplings. Afterwards, we travelled back to Shea’s house and told his Alexa system to leave us alone. We might have been drunk. After smoking a bit of the funny grass I started to see shapes and got a bit paranoid. All in all, it was a good first day, even if if I had ended the night in a state of absolute paranoia. Don’t do drugs, kids.

The next day was a busy one. We had breakfast in a lovely cafe near Shea’s house. There was no real plan for the day, which is one of my favourite things about Katie. You can have little events that you will do but the rest of the day is up to you. We stopped by a convenience store, got a 12 pack of IPAs and hopped in the car with no destination in mind. It turned out to be my favourite part of the trip. We drove from the bottom of the Cape to the top, passing through or stopping in most of the towns that dot the map. We parked up near beaches and got out and took some pictures. In Barnstable County we stopped by an old lighthouse. I can’t really remember the names of all the places because I was hungover and as I said, had some IPAs to get me through the afternoon, but they were beautiful spots. At the top of the Cape we stopped in Provincetown for a pint and got to walk the beautiful, cobbled streets. The bar we were in was extrmely old and the wood had warped in the floor but it was nice and warm. Harpoon was my new drink of choice.
After a while we drove back down towards home and caught some of Katie’s friends in an improv comedy show. It was hilarious. I had never been to a show like it before and although the crowd was small, the laughs were big. We met some of the performers afterwards at a local bar before going home. Before drifting off to sleep, Lil’ Bow Wow’s movie, Like Mike came on the t.v. and Katie recited the whole of the theme song, Basketball. I was amazed and hammered.

The final day was uneventful. We got food, I got some t-shirts and hats to remind me of the trip and before long I was catching another greyhound bus back to Manhattan. The trip was over far too soon and I was disappointed I couldn’t get to stay longer. However, the buildings don’t mind themselves, and they need a shmuck like me to do the nightshifts and write blogs about places I’d rather be and people I’d rather be with. I would highly recommend the Cape (that’s what people who know the Cape call the Cape, just deal with it, and don’t @ me), and for any J1s or people looking to make money, go when it’s in season between May and October. There’s money to be made from the rich kids further up and there’s fun to be had all over the Cape.