Con, Lar and a bit of Flann for St. Patrick’s Day

In our continuing series of Lar & Con vignettes we bring you this Patrick’s Day flavoured offering (pace Brian O’Nolan)

Lar: Will you be going to the parade?

Con: I will.  Sure the young fellah wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Lar: If I were you I’d wrap up warm.  It’ll be colder out than you think.

Con: You may have point there.

Lar: I’d say take your umbrella too.  It has a blustery look to it now.

Con: True for you.  You can’t be certain of the weather at all.

Lar: I’d venture you might need your rainboots too.  Many’s the man come down with pleurisy standing watching that parade wandering out thinking it is a spring day suddenly to be assaulted by winter-like gusts

Con: Well on that count I am going to ignore you given that I have only just purchased this fine pair of George Webs and am very proud of them.  On top of which, I was always told to beware the I’ds of March.  Here’s me bus.  Enjoy your weekend, now.

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A New Year’s Statement Re: Lar & Con

On the heels of our Brothers’ Lot Christmas Eve Lar and Con Seasonal Spinoff, we have been inundated with inquiries as to how our brave dyad rang in the New Year.  It has taken some time to establish the facts but here they are as best we can gather.

Statement of Garda Liam Mulcahy read aloud in District Court No 44, January 7, 2013, Judge Dermot Prentice presiding:

One the morning of January First, two thousand and thirteen a.k.a. New Year’s Day, at approximately 4:15 in the morning.  Garda Comiskey and myself were proceeding in a North-North Westerly direction along the Harold’s Cross Road approaching the junction with Parkview Avenue when we perceived two individuals leaning on the railings of the park engaged in conversation of an elevated volume while apparently teasing a dog of the Kerry Blue variety.  We approached and confronted the two individuals who identified themselves as Con Conway and Lar Lawrence, both employees of Brannigan Brothers. 

Upon request for the meaning of the uproar and disturbance, Mr. Lawrence inquired of Garda Comiskey and myself how we had got over the Christmas and remarked that he himself found it a very trying and soul-sapping time of year.  Mr. Conway eyed myself and Garda Comiskey in a manner not inconsistent with inebriation and proceeded to sing Take Her Up to Monto.  Mr. Lawrence, while also appearing to be inebriated exhibited a more conciliatory approach and explained that the pair had run into each other at a New Year’s gathering “somewhere in Foxrock.’  When I asked if they had walked from Foxrock to their present location in Harold’s Cross the answer was in the affirmative. 

When I questioned Mr. Lawrence about the dog, my suspicions being aroused by the fine condition of the animal and the incongruity of the piece of clothesline being used as a leash, Mr. Lawrence said he had found it straying in the Foxrock area.  Mr. Conway interjected that the dog had in fact been tied to a traffic light but there being no one about he had surmised that this was perhaps some New Year’s tradition of Protestant origin and could not conclusively be taken to be a sign of prior ownership.  Mr. Lawrence concurred, though disputed the protestant nature of the tying the dog to a traffic light and explained they had deemed the bog to have been abandoned.  Mr. Conway then asked Garda Comiskey if he was aware that Toledo had once been the capital of Spain before hurriedly turning away and vomiting over the railings into the adjacent park.  At this point we escorted Messrs. Lawrence and Conway to the station to take a full statement.

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It never really feels like Christmas ’til…

As a bonus gift for readers of The Brothers’ Lot, we are proud to present this original 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 in Dublin’s Westmoreland Street.

Lar: Do you remember the Cheeky Charlies they used to sell in Henry Street?

Con: I remember them well: GET THE LAST OF THE CHEEKY CHARLIES!

Lar: Ah yeah.  But, you know, it doesn’t feel a bit like Christmas.

Con: Sure it never really feels like Christmas til you have all the shopping done.

Lar: True enough I suppose.

Con: And you’re standing in a corner of The Stag’s Head on Christmas Eve with a pint and a small Powers with your bags of presents around your feet.

Lar: That is a warm and seasonal picture I’ll grant.

Con: …your hastily bought, ill-though out, last minute presents in their poxy little plastic bags…

Lar: Ah I don’t know about that…

Con: …and your being jostled by some prick from the Merrion Road and his friends with his smelly cologne who is home for the Christmas from Doha or Brisbane or somewhere and talks too loud and sounds like Bono…

Lar: Ah, steady on now.

Con: …and when you come back from the bar with another pint and a large Powers, he and his girlfriend have grabbed you little corner of shelf space and you have nowhere to rest your pint so you stand there drinking from each hand and each sip you know more and more that the foot spa and the DVD and the slippers and the aromatherapy bath oils are all wrong and the cardigan is the wrong size and it should have been man City not Man Utd. and you now knowyou will spend Christmas Day suffering the perfunctory gratitude and the hurt looks of your whole family and they’ll have got you thoughtful gifts that you actually wanted and…

Lar: Easy!  Easy!  You’ll give yourself a conniption!

Con: …and then you get yourself one last pint and large one, gather up your useless presents and go out to find the buses have stopped running and now you can’t get a taxi cos all the people home for the Christmas have taken them all and you have to walk home and all the chippers are already closed and you’ve lost your keys and …

Lar: Oh look!  There’s a 16!  Have to run!  Good luck now and enjoy The Christmas!  [Exit at great speed]

Con: But you live in Crumlin!  The 16 is not your bus!

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Strange Event

Edmund Rice 250: to reunite, reconcile, give thanks and look to the future.

This strange event is imminent and has the puzzling endorsement of former President of Ireland Mary McAleese. 

Past pupils and friends of Edmund Rice and Christian Brothers schools are coming together to hold this event during the 250th anniversary year of Edmund Rice’s birth to say thank you for their education: to thank, to reconcile, to reconnect and to look to the future.

On 20th October 2012 at 7.00pm former President Mary McAleese will be guest speaker at a special event to recognise the 250th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Edmund Rice, the unique Irishman who founded the Christian Brothers and hundreds of schools in Ireland and around the world. The legacy of Edmund Rice has touched the lives of countless thousands through the education they received.

This event, to be held at the Convention Centre Dublin, will bring together groups and individuals from the Christian Brothers and Edmund Rice network. The event will provide past pupils with the opportunity to welcome old friends and colleagues from all over the islands of Ireland and England. As well as having a theme of thanksgiving, the gathering will acknowledge and express deep regret in a spirit of reconciliation with those past pupils who, sadly, were treated harshly or even abused in the course of their education.

I wrote the novel, The Brothers’ Lot, that tried in some way to tackle this whole sorry mess, albeit satirically- this stuff is too hard to treat head-on. I went through O’Connell’s Schools in the 70’s and 80’s and hated it. While there were some decent teachers and Brothers, the overriding atmosphere was one of furious contempt for kids.

Whatever Edmund Rice may or may not have stood for, is in many ways irrelevant as it is clear that his impetus was hijacked and perverted into a twisted ethos of inward-looking nationalism, Jansenist tinted sexual obsession and anti-child cruelty that was and remains unforgivable. Certainly individual brothers may have come from deprived backgrounds and known little better but the cruelty of the whole operation was an open secret that the church and apparatchiks of the state colluded in sustaining. Post-revolutionary Ireland could not take revenge on the English so, it seems, turned on its own, victimizing the poor and the working classes for not conforming to some unattainable idealized, Celtic twilight Catholic definition of Irishness. We see markedly little of the same depravity among the religious orders that attended to the children of the well-heeled. Praising Rice’s intentions is one thing but to celebrate the Christian Brothers and their legacy is highly questionable. Anyone who got through it feeling that they got a good education and were not abused, beaten, demeaned or constantly belittled, should consider themselves very lucky.

Jim Bradley in the Irish Times informs us that there will be “choral performances, music from the Artane Band”  Might I suggest an alternative musical selection?


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October Surprise from Amazon UK

Now that’s a pleasant October surprise.  Granted it is a promo price so no shopping for a Carmen overlooking the Alhambra in Granada or anything like that but still….now I can refill the fountain pen.

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Brooklyn Book Festival: Panel Discussion 9/23 5pm

Looking forward to moderating this panel on Sunday:

Brooklyn Law School Student Lounge (250 Joralemon Street)

5:00 P.M. Inventions of Adolescence

Novelists Kurt Andersen (True Believers), Danielle Evans (Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self) and Karen Thompson Walker (The Age of Miracles) read from their work and discuss the experiences of youth. Moderated by Kevin Holohan.   

A full, and I mean FULL,  listing of events is here:

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Suddenly this is tonight! Wall to Wall Akashic Authors, riverfront expanse, Manhattan views at sunset – what more could one want of a Monday evening?

The Brothers' Lot

On Monday August 20th at 7pm  at East River State Park, Kent Ave and N 9thin Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I will be reading from The Brothers’ Lot alongside fellow Akashic Books authors Shira Nayman, and  Elizabeth Nunez. 

This is part of The Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn and WORD’s Words by the Water, a four-week outdoor reading series along the East River. Each event focuses on publishers/authors with a local focus.  Link here:

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