Do you speak Dublin?

A Dyoublong childhood reminiscence. Translation, gloss and notes towards a festschrift available upon receipt of postal order for 3/6.  Limited voleskin-bound edition available for a Guinea.

savages bpl stepThe day we went on the hop we met two blokes who were on the gur and had stroked a pound of rashers and a sliced pan and wanted to sell them. “Giz yer odds,” they said. We had none so we split our loose harrys with them so as not to get claimed. One of them hoosed his staff on us so we bailed. We scutted as far as Cabra, trun muckers at a gotchie’s hut and then stalled on into town.

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The Brothers’ Lot: Free e-book One Day Only

The Brothers' Lot

The Brothers’ Lot from Akashic Books

Nothing says Advent like a free copy of the Brother’s Lot from the wonderful people at Akashic Books.

Available free here til midnight tonight:

“A witty, brilliant, devastating expression of outrage . . . this novel is so subtly imagined, so elegantly structured, written in such hilarious prose but with such horrifying details, that what it offers is an overpowering, visionary judgement of a society.”
Times Literary Supplement

“The mix of dire experiences that goes into the education dished out at the Brothers of Godly Coercion School for Young Boys of Meager Means adds up to a mordantly funny debut from Dublin native Holohan.”
Publishers Weekly

“Taking dead aim at the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and the atmosphere of repression that allowed abuse to flourish, this first novel uses satire to stinging effect . . . Terribly bleak and terribly funny, this skillful debut pays tribute to the irrepressible spirit of all the rebellious young boys who would not give in to authoritarian rule.”

“[Holohan] possesses his own distinct voice. Especially useful as therapy for recovering Catholics or to tweak apologists of the church, this impressive debut is highly recommended.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Holohan’s ability to write the kind of free-flowing naturalistic dialogue that so potently conveys the anarchic spirit of schoolboy warfare . . . is grounded by a shadow play of macabre references to horrors that ghost around the edges of the narrative, many eerily similar to some of the more infamous real life reports that have emerged in recent years.”
Irish Times

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James Connolly’s New York at Cooper Union May 12, 1916

For anyone who might be interested,  I have this official bootleg of the James Connolly essay, “Let us Free Ireland!” that I had the honor of reading last night at Cooper Union, from the same stage where Connolly himself spoke in 1902 and on the centenary of his death. Unfortunately it cuts off toward the end but you get the gist I think. The full text is available here:…/connolly/1899/…/freeirld.htm

Huge thanks to Susan McKeown for organizing this wonderful Festival.

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Savage Kids of Dublintown at Brooklyn Public Library

Get your pre-Patrick’s Day fix of Irish litt.

This Saturday March 5th, 4pm.

Brooklyn Public Library

10 Grand Army Plz, Brooklyn, New York 11238

savages bpl step

Four Dublin-born writers present the recipe for a classic Irish childhood: one part poverty, one part sexual repression, one part evil teachers. Add a fistful of salt and serve with a side of black humor. Then emigrate. Kevin Holohan, Honor Molloy, Maeve Price and Michelle Woods read from their works and share selections by Maeve Brennan, Maura Laverty, Patrick McCabe, Flann O’Brien, and James Joyce.

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12.15.15 IAW&A Salon: An abundance of talent, heart and Christmas cheer

Irish American Writers & Artists

By Karen Daly
Photos by Cat Dwyer


Marni Rice

The late December Salon at the Cell has quickly become a holiday tradition for members and guests who know there will be an extraordinary array of talent and heart as well as abundant IAW&A-style Christmas cheer. Curated and co-hosted by Honor Molloy and John Kearns, the program began with Marni Rice performing a haunting original accordion composition.

joeJoseph Goodrich

Playwright, actor and expert on mystery writing, Joseph Goodrich then showed his tender side with the story “The New Boy,” a reminiscence of Christmas in a small Minnesota town, circa 1970. Funny and poignant, Joe’s tale prompted smiles and tears.

kevinKevin Holohan

Kevin Holohan brought to life Lar Lawrence and Con Conway, two electricians escaped from his novel The Brothers’ Lot. Quintessential Dubliners, Lar is the straight man and Con, the one convinced that not only is the glass half empty…

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Nothing like a bit of Beckett to cut the Patrick’s Day treacle – March 14

As you might already know, I am never wholly comfortable with the tourist board clichéd paddywhackery that often attends St. Patrick’s Day.  So what better way to mark these rejoicings than a celebration of the least clichéd, least paddywhakerish Irish writer imaginable, Mr. Samuel Beckett?  We will be airing some of his prose works this coming Saturday, works that beg to be read out loud and, once heard, dispel the “difficult” reputation that tweedy academics would wrap him up in.  Details below.  If you are in around, would love to see you there.

 Beckett Out Loud with Kevin Holohan, Honor Molloy and Maeve Price

Saturday, March 14, 2015 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Central Library, Dweck Center

Admisssion FREE

Samuel Beckett was not only a modernist, he was a Dubliner. This is demonstrated by his insistence on language and the extremity of human experience found in his work. Kevin Holohan, Honor Molloy, and Maeve Price—all born and raised in Dublin—bring their voices to selections from Watt,MurphyMolloy, and some of the shorter works. Together, they reveal the music, humor and desolation inherent in Beckett’s work.

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Tales of Olde Williamsburg Chap XVIII

Sirrah! Prithee, where might I find a new codpiece?  As you can see I am quite undone.

You could try Put Yer Nuts In It on Driggs or Genital Confections on Berry. Then there’s The Cupping Guild on Bedford and N 9th or Totum Scrotum on Wythe or if you want a walk you can try The Olde Breukelen Hose Factorie over on Metropolitan Avenue.  There’s also…

…You are most kind Sirrah. I see this precinct is most amply provisioned.  Mercifully I did not question you for purveyors of ferret-flavored ales; I fear I would have been listening to you all day.

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A Seasonal Keats and Chapman Moment

With all due respect and admiration for the Keats and Chapman vehicle invented by Flann O’Brien aka Myles na gCopaleen, here is a seasonal offering:

Glutted on the over-indulgences of the festive season, Keats and Chapmen were enjoying a bracing and healthful tramp across the countryside when they were overtaken by surprisingly inclement weather with its attendant early darkness.  Spying a renowned country hotel nearby, they repaired thereto for shelter and an early dinner.  The dinner was exquisite, the service impeccable and the desserts left nothing to be desired, well, almost nothing.

“Gentlemen, may I offer you a little digestif, compliments of the house?” inquired the waiter solicitously.

“Why!  That is most kind!” exclaimed Keats who had already enjoyed most of the second bottle of Borgonne de Mueilly ’79 by himself.

“What a capital idea!  I have a hankering after a tot of the Fontenabra Quebro ’68,” said Chapman.

“Ah, I’m afraid Lady Quisling-Mulberry had the last of that on Christmas Eve,” replied the waiter, a little crestfallen.

“And well she might!  Fret not, a glass of the Quinta de Sobaco ’82 will serve just as well,” interjected Keats, eager to spare the waiter the pain of this embarrassing shortcoming.

“Alas, the proprietor will not stock the Sobaco since the incident with the ’76,” explained the waiter regretfully.

“Seems perhaps overly cautious and a little disappointing,” remarked Chapman a little tersely.

“Well a glass of the Shafts Floodgate Tawny ’77 will do the trick and let’s speak no more of it,” suggested Keats struggling to conceal his own mounting disappointment.

“I’m afraid we don’t have the ’77 but I am in a position to offer you a glass of the ’79,” ventured the waiter with growing trepidation.

“I will accept that suggestion in the helpful spirit in which it was offered and refrain from screaming at the top of my lungs that I would not use the ’79 to clean my boots,” snapped Chapman.

“Let us not sour the good spirits of the evening with all this quibbling.  A glass of the Norbesforth ’82 and we’ll say no more about it,” suggested Keats

“It pains me to tell you that our cellar boy stumbled into the shelf and left every bottle of the Norbesforth in a pungent pile of broken glass on the floor.”

“Well, confound his clumsiness!  Could you at least give us a Figueroa “83 and let us have done?” pleaded Chapman

“That I can certainly provide tout suite.”

“Fine.  Then it is settled,” sighed Chapman.

“One really mustn’t grumble,” added Keats, as the waiter left to fetch their order. “After all, any port in a storm.”

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The Thing About Christmas is…..

As a bonus gift for readers of The Brothers’ Lot, we are proud to present this second solstice-related seasonal spin-off in which Lar Lawrence and Con Conway, still in the employ of Brannigan Brothers, discuss the spirit of the Rare Aul Dublin Christmas while standing, yet again in Dublin’s Westmoreland Street.  You can refresh your memory of last year’s installment here

Lar: It’s bitter cold.

Con: It is.  Mind you it is much colder in Nova Scotia this time of year.

Lar: It is, now?

Con: Oh yes.  And darker.

Lar: Is that a fact?

Con: Oh you wouldn’t believe how dark and dreary it can be.

Lar: Were you there?

Con: Jesus no!  You’d have to fly to get there.

Lar: Well, yes you would…

Con: …and what would I want to go spending nine hours in a plane only to end up in somewhere even darker than this place?  As if Christmas wasn’t bad enough without adding more darkness to it.

Lar: Ah now, in fairness…

Con: …all them feckin ads on the telly with everyone smiling and opening presents and sitting down to perfect dinners that look like they came from a hotel.  And them all enjoying one another and wearing new jumpers!  Well that’s all filmed in the early part of it.  You never see ads filmed around four o’clock on Christmas day, do you?

Lar: I can’t say as I’ve ever noticed but…

Con: …You never see anyone on ads asleep in the armchair with the lower dentures threatening to fall into his lap every time he breathes out. You never see the daughter of the house under the stairs drinking Harvey’s Bristol Cream by the neck or the son texting pictures of his presents to his friends with all of them tagged “another shite gift” including the phone he’s using to send the feckin things!!

Lar: Ah, I wouldn’t know I don’t watch that much…

Con: Terrible depressing time of year it is.  Wojus!  Can’t stand it!

Lar:  I suppose it strikes different people different ways.  Takes all sorts.  I suppose you’ll be skipping the Christmas party on Friday then.

Con: Are you mad?  Open bar and running buffet upstairs in Dillons of Little Crimea Street?  I’ll be there all right.  I already got one of those little screwdrivers with the interchangeable heads for me secret Santa gift.  Damn right I’m going.

Lar: Ah right.  Suppose I’ll see you then.  Here’s me bus.

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Outtake from The Brothers’ Lot

I have been thinking lately about the whole process of rewriting and editing as I chip away at a second book and still find myself working at sections that I know will probably have to come out in the final edit.  I make my peace with this by thinking of scaffolding that allows me to build the rest of it and then gets taken away but without which I could never do the job.  This is one such piece, a bit that was in a way too much fun to write and  it took me ages and some excellent editorial advice to see that it told nothing that moved the story and was literally and figuratively a diversion.   How true is the find your favorite bits and cut them maxim?  My experience is: fairly true.

Anyway here is a little glance at where the mysterious guild-like Janitors (who by tradition must all conform to the X McX naming convention) come from.  The Oratory has just collapsed and the janitor has quit.  Here beginneth the outtake:

The Monday after the Christmas holidays Dermot McDermott didn’t turn up and sent his youngest son with a note to say he would not be coming to the school any more because they were moving to Drogheda.  Now the task of repairing the Oratory ceiling would fall to Ray McRae.  It had been photographed, mapped and measured to bits by Fathers Cronin and Mulcahy before they went on their way with a promise to Brother Loughlin that they too would be “in touch.”

“Do you think you can manage it, Mr. McRae?” cooed Brother Loughlin.  “After all, you’re the janitor now, it’s a big move up for you.  A fine start to the New Year, eh?”

“You’re the janitor now.”  The words sang themselves joyously inside McRae’s head.  This was a big step.  This was the beginning and it was a good beginning.  In only two months he had gone from janitor’s apprentice to janitor.  He could already feel the chafing rub of a National Gallery Attendant’s green serge jacket on the back of his neck. Unlike most apprentices, McRae was not a young man.  Most apprentices were in their late teens but McRae had just turned thirty-eight.  After many years in the Department of Transport, with special responsibility for hump-backed bridges, he had decided to change his life.  He had a dream.  He was going to be an attendant in the National Gallery.  He knew it was too big a leap to make immediately, so he was going at it via janitorial work, hopefully leading to Park Attendant and, with a lot of work and application, on to custodian of engravings at the Municipal Transport Museum and then to Attendant at the Museum of Natural History and finally to Attendant at the National Gallery.  He stared at the gaping hole in the ceiling, seeing in it the portal to the Dutch Masters room.

“Of course you’ll need an apprentice or two to help you with this.  It’s a big job, even for a senior janitor.  You should get on to the Brannigan Brothers and see what they can do in the line of apprentices,” added Brother Loughlin skillfully.  He could read McRae’s thoughts by the light streaming from his eyes.  Here was a little man with ambition.  There was nothing easier to mold and direct.  Brother Loughlin patted McRae fraternally on the back and walked away whistling a joyous little tune celebrating the removal of the noisome presence of Dermot McDermott from his school.  It was a good start to the New Year.


Ray McRae cycled into the yard of Brannigan Brothers Amalgamated Services.  He parked his bike behind the horse trough filled with stagnant water, slime and pigeon droppings and entered the austere redbrick Victorian building.  It had the unmistakable look of something that had once been either a mill or a mental asylum.  He walked up the shallow steps and into the draughty vestibule.

With the new-found aplomb of a senior janitor he pinged the little brass bell that sat on the ledge at the hatch marked “Inquiries” and waited to be danced attendance upon as befitted a man of his station.

He counted to thirty and still there was no sign of movement among the shelves of files and boxes beyond the hatch.  He raised his hand to ping the bell again.

“You touch that bell again and I’ll have yer guts for garters!” hacked an ageless sexless voice from somewhere in the labyrinth of towering files beyond the hatch.

McRae cautiously pulled his hand back from the bell and put it in his pocket where he figured it would not get him shouted at.  He tiptoed to the other side of the vestibule and eyed the notices in the glass case.  Public Meeting to discuss the struggle for equal shoe leather allowances for bicycle messengers.  Hospital Porter, Grade II, Open Examinations, application date three months passed.  Confederated Nightwatchmen’s Annual Snooker Tournament, Mondays, Dillon’s of Lower Crimea Street, South.  International Brotherhood of Boiler Repairmen, outing to Greystones, Sunday 14th.  Ha!  They had it good, those boiler repairmen, thought McRae, held the country to ransom they did!

His musings on the unfettered political power of organized boiler repair were interrupted by a disturbance in the file room behind him.

From the depths of the office behind the hatch came an unholy racket.  First a rasping coughing that sounded like someone throwing rocks into a shipwrecked trawler followed by a flurry of wheezing curses.  When the wheezing and swearing subsided, there was a short pause and then an intermittent scraping of leather and nails on stone interspersed with hoarse exhortations of “Come, leg, or I’ll drag ye!”

McRae went to the hatch and peered down the narrow passage between the files that was all he could see through the narrow hatch.  The wheezing, cursing and scraping grew louder and McRae felt himself involuntarily draw back a little from the hatch.  He steadied himself.  After all, he was a senior janitor now and well able to face the world.

The cursing and scraping drew closer, so close that McRae felt sure he should be able to see whoever or whatever was responsible for it.  He strained and leaned into the hatch and peered to his left down a narrow passage between the wall and the filing shelves.  Nothing.  But the scraping seemed to be all around him now.  He turned to his right and jumped back so hard that he banged his head off the side of the hatch.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” he exclaimed.

“You can take yourself and your fucking filthy language out of here, if you’re going to talk like that!” barked the old woman in the black serge dress favored of those who had got their posts in life through their contributions, real or alleged, to the 1916 Easter Rising.

McRae recoiled before this hoarse embodiment of superannuation and confrontation.  She glowered at him, making it very clear that she had much better things to do than attend to him.  “What do you want?” she snapped.

“I need a couple of apprentices.”

She sighed resignedly to convey that everything was exactly as she expected: some piffling nobody with some insignificant request to waste her time.

“You’ll only get one.  Fill these out and go up to the third floor.  Room D9.”  She smacked a yellow, a blue, a pink and a white form down on the ledge and slammed down the shutter on her hatch just missing McRae’s fingers.


Ray McRae walked proudly past Hangman’s Corner on his way back to the school.  He listened to the precise well-oiled ticking of his bicycle behind him and pictured with delight the inspiration he must be providing for those around him: the revered Senior Janitor of Greater Little Werburgh Street, North being followed at a respectful distance by his new apprentice dutifully wheeling his new master’s bicycle.  He felt ennobled by taking an apprentice out of the yard full of apprentice janitors, welders, boiler repair men and the like all standing around the vast interior quad of the building every day like convicts, waiting to be assigned.  After all, it was not all that long ago that he spent interminable day after interminable day standing in that yard with the other apprentices waiting for the call.

Gonagle McGonagle (his real name was Dermot Rohan but he badly needed the janitoring work) had other ideas at that very minute.  The ticking of the bicycle’s back wheel reflected the speedy calculations in his head: if he were to hop on the bike right now and pedal away, would he get away with it and, if he did, how much would he get for the bike and would that compensate for being debarred forever from Brannigan Brothers’ operations?  Sadly he realized that even with the patent-pending Brindley-Cromwell three-speed mechanism, the bicycle would not fetch nearly enough to compensate for his trouble in stealing it.  He resigned himself to being apprenticed to this total fool McRae.

“Don’t slouch along like that back there!  It’s bad for the school’s reputation and it’s bad for your kidneys as well.  Posture is very important.  A young lad like you should take care of his posture.  You don’t want to be a martyr to your back like my good Father, God rest him.  Could barely get out of the bed in the mornings.”

Gonagle McGonagle straightened up a little but began to scuff his heels in compensation.  McRae continued on in an orthopedic vein.

“Nearly everything comes down to the back.  Lumbago, now that’s a terrible curse.  You should be very careful about sitting on damp walls, terrible for giving you lumbago that, not to mention the piles but of course them lads is a whole other days work…”

McGonagle wondered if he would not be better off back waiting in the stultifying tedium of the yard with the others than here listening to this idiot blabbering on at him.

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