I came late to drink.
In hindsight, it would have been great if I was categorised as an ‘Irish Queer’ – a category created by Seán Ó Faoláin, ‘a man who prefers women to drink’. Unfortunately, ignorance prevailed and it was not a case of opportunities lost as more opportunities I did not know ever existed.
As a non-drinker, I perfected the art of the people-watcher; a part of the group but still apart. This art was later expanded with a camera – at events or even sessions, the person with the camera has a licence to mingle, to drop in and out of groups. He is in control. He can move on when he wants without offending.
As a non-drinker, I also became the designated driver which again gave control as to where and when.
During a quiet time in college, a group of us headed down to PM’s homeplace outside Claremorris – at the end of a boreen, off a country road. For someone who lived within earshot of Cork’s Kent Station and had grown immune to the hum of the train engines constantly ticking over, waking in Rockfield is my first memory of complete silence.
Another memory is that Saturday night, or actually Sunday morning after 3a.m., leaving Mulligan’s and being asked by the bar staff, ‘Are ye sure ye won’t have another?’. That may have been the norm but for this non-drinking city-kid, somewhat fearful of being a found-on, it was a phrase that remains in a strong shade of grey upstairs in my matter.
Last July, I was back in Mayo, for the funeral of PM’s mother – the woman who ensured that we were so well fed and ready for Mulligan’s, nearly thirty years previously.
I was disappointed to see the sad and sorry state of Mulligan’s.
Gerry Murphy’s latest book of poems brought the two pubs together in my mind. It got me thinking and made me jealous – of the after-hours forbidden drink.
I took the photograph as part of a grouping of tiled mosaics on buildings in Cork but it goes to show how the Celtic Corpse has treated both The Corner House and Mulligan’s – maybe the demand for after-hours pint and the reliance on the after-hours trade extracted its revenge in Mayo.