Wednesday, October 17, 2018



One of the sad-funny things I learned when I read more recent accounts of Bobby Sands Hunger Strike  was that he loved the poetry of Ethna Carberry.  He was inspired by her poem that was  a patriotic song "Roddy McCorley" and in his last  days he asked his jail neighbor Brendan Hughes whom he called the Dark if he  could give him a letter to mail to Ethna. He added that he did not have her address. The Dark answered  "I hope you have a ouija board in there because she  does not have an address. She died in 1902"
Here's how one reference work described the popular song:
RODDY McCORLEY. Irish, Air or March (cut time). D Major (Miller & Perron): G Major (Carlin). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Miller & Perron): AABB (Carlin). There were two songs named "Roddy McCorley" (spellings vary). One is older, and may have been written soon after the Irish rebellion of 1798. The other was written in 1898 for the centenary of the rebellion, and while the tune is traditional (also used for the song "Sean South of Garryowen") the words are the product of County Antrim-born Ethna Carberry [1], the pseudonym of Anna MacManus, née Johnston, (1864-1902), an Irish writer and poet. Her poetry was published by her husband after her death in The Four Winds of Eirinn (1902), and proved a popular volume that contained, among many other pieces, her "Rody M'Corley" (pp. 82-83).

The words in her version commemorate a martyr of the 1798 rebellion. They begin:
O see the fleet-foot host of men, who march with faces drawn,
From farmstead and from fishers' cot, along the banks of Ban;
They come with vengeance in their eyes. Too late! Too late are they,
For young Roddy McCorley goes to die on the bridge of Toome today.

Oh Ireland, Mother Ireland, you love them still the best
The fearless brave who fighting fall upon your hapless breast,
But never a one of all your dead more bravely fell in fray,
Than he who marches to his fate on the bridge of Toome today.
The truth of Roddy McCorley is more complicated and confused than Carberry's portrayal. Despite some assumptions he was Catholic, the best information is that he was a County Antrim Presbyterian. He also seems to have come late to the cause of the United Irishmen, and while he may have fought in Antrim, it was for his participation in an organized patriotic gang (The Archer Gang) afterwards that seems to have been the reason for his death sentence. The song was recorded and popularized by the Clancy Brothers, the Kingston Trio and others. It is a frequently heard in march medley’s played by Irish musicians and is considered a ‘grand old chestnut’ of a tune. 
Here is a verse from the lyric written by Bobby Sands:

Oh! I am Rodai of Duneane 
And those of no property bear my name. 
Those kingly freemen who sweat and toil 
And yet who never gain nor reign. 
I love these wretched gentle souls 
They! condemned to death from birth, 
I stand by Tone and I stand by truth 
And the wretched of this earth!

From the poem Rodaí MacCorlaí written by Bobby Sands,
Bobby has transformed it into a  marching song for world socialism, Wasn't he a great one!
Roddy McCorley
Here is the version made popular by  The Clancy Brothers
O see the fleet-foot host of men, 
Who march with faces drawn,
From farmstead and from fishers' cot, 
Along the banks of Ban;
They come with vengeance in their eyes. 
Too late! Too late are they,
For young Roddy McCorley goes to die 
On the bridge of Toome today.
Up the narrow street he stepped, 
So smiling, proud and young.
About the hemp-rope on his neck, 
The golden ringlets clung;
There's ne'er a tear in his blue eyes, 
Fearless and brave are they,
As young Roddy McCorley goes to die 
On the bridge of Toome today.
When last this narrow street he trod, 
His shining pike in hand
Behind him marched, in grim array, 
A earnest stalwart band.
To Antrim town! To Antrim town, 
He led them to the fray,
But young Roddy McCorley goes to die 
On the bridge of Toome today.
There's never a one of all your dead 
More bravely died in fray
Than he who marches to his fate 
In Toomebridge town today; ray
True to the last! True to the last, 
He treads the upwards way,
And young Roddy McCorley goes to die 
On the bridge of Toome today.
Songwriters: J Baird / Pd Tra
YES,  Bobby Sands was so taken with Ethna;s work that he wrote his own ballad version of Roddy Mc Corley. He recognized a fellow patriot in the woman from Antrim.

Ethna Carberry was the pen name used by a 19th century Irish poet and journalist whose short life was ended by illness at the age of 35. She collaborated on the production of two Irish Nationalist magazines with another Irish poet, her friend Alice Milligan.
Born Anna Johnston on the 3rd December 1866 in Ballymena, County Antrim. Her father was a timber merchant by trade but also a prominent Irish Republican in the Fenian movement. She was writing verse from a very young age and had her first piece published at the age of fifteen. She went on to have a number of other pieces of work published in periodicals such as the Nation, Catholic Fireside and United Ireland.
The Irish Nationalist cause was very close to her heart and she lectured up and down the country on the subject, along with Alice Milligan and Maud Gonne, the latter being the leader of a revolutionary women’s organisation called Inghinidhe na hÉireann, which translates as “Daughters of Ireland”. With Milligan’s help, she wrote plays to promote the organisation’s cultural activities. The pair were also responsible for The Northern Patriot and The Shan Van Vocht, both well-read nationalist publications. The latter title has been acknowledged as a major contributory factor to the “Irish Revival” in cultural activities.
Alice only started using the pen name Ethna Carberry in 1901 when she married fellow writer and folklorist Séamus MacManus. She explained that she did not wish to write using her now married name as she wanted to avoid being confused with him. Tragically the marriage only lasted a year as Alice fell ill with gastritis and died. Séamus lived for a further 58 years and never re-married. The impact on his life of his wife was so great, and he wrote a memoir in her honour. He published the work of Ethna Carbery in The Four Winds of Erin after her death and this collection was extremely popular.
She was, without doubt, loved throughout her native land and much further afield. 
The fame of Ethna Carbery spread across the Atlantic.
 As well as being a prominent and fervent supporter of and writer about Irish Republicanism, she wrote poetry as if her mind was:
One of her most poignant poems is reproduced here. My Dearest appears to show Ethna searching deep into her own soul for inspiration:
Ethna Carberry was a deeply patriotic individual whose love for all those who had contributed to, and died for, her country was an almost all-consuming passion and this fervour was to be found in much of her work. She wrote fluently, easily and with infectious enthusiasm. Her body of work would, no doubt have been greatly enhanced had she lived a longer life.
Ethna Carberry died on the 21st April 1902 at the tragically young age of 35.
Two kindred spirits  her work reached across a century and soothed the tortured body and soul of  a fellow REPUBLICAN PATRIOT.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

Back to the Sportin' Life in the Bucket



I must confess I watched the Patriots play last night and I saw two great Quarterbacks --BRADY AND MAHOMES.
Also those boys from Kansas City-- Hill and two others who can really catch and run with great speed.

I know the Patriots won, but I also  know their Mahomes has only started in a few games. He is a young rookie with a great arm.

 Maybe Tom looked across the playing field and saw himself 19 years ago. It was there for all to see.  The  youth, the speed, and the scrappiness of the KC team could not finally overcome the experience, the persistence and the formidable will of the Patriots when Edelman and Gronk and White and Hogan and Michel  are on the  field.  

They eked out a win and the Football Gods smiled on them, but they are fickle Gods. The boys from Kansas are frolicking in the fields of those Gods, and they will catch their eyes.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


Je me Souviens

I know it is the motto for Quebec on the license plates. I remember --what? That although I am confederated into Canada, I am French and I speak French and my people originally came from France
I guess that is what they are reminding themselves not to forget.

Why do I also feel that  could be my motto?
I am blessed by memory. It has sometimes been the source of sorrow as some old woe would sweep over me as if it had  just happened.
So I sometimes think that it is a mixed  blessing because it makes me so vulnerable and so at the mercy of a sudden onslaught from my past.

One of the reasons that I was happy when young to leave the Bucket was that I felt assaulted at every corner  by my past childhood memories.  I see that this blog has been a way to bring those skeletons out of the closet of repression and make them dance in the light of acceptance. I have felt the relief of this.

Now that I live with a brilliant man who for the past  twelve years has been losing his memory, I see again that loss of memory is loss of self and history. Even if memory brings back bad news, it is a great blessing. It is a constant prop of  human identity.
As a Celt I belong to a nation that has made a fetish of memory. I know that sometimes I enjoy it to the point of self-indulgence.
I guess that is why  I have come to love the Burren mysteries of Cora Harrison that seem to remind and educate the readers that we had a better system as Celts than the English imposed upon us.
Also in looking into my own genealogy I see that even the YANKEE side--the Jenckes side --were originally Celts. After all Jenckes is a Welsh name and the Whipples from Scotland are intermarried and great-grandmothers of mine and the Mowry's are Huguenots from France.  The Colemans are a sub-clan of the O'Neill's and were their hereditary bards.  Their role was to celebrate the clans' triumphs in verse and song. Surely I find myself doing this here and in my poems as well.  So long live memory. 
Je me souvien--Yes, I am doing my job.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

SAMHAIN in the Bucket

She rides with a large black shawl made of raven's wings, her mount is an all black horse, and she is escorted by huge flocks, a murder of crows and ravens, She trails clouds about her. Amadan is her sidekick, the old court jester whose slightest touch will bring madness to the living.She is an ancient Celtic Queen and Winter is her domain so she appears at SAMHAIN.

I have written before of the Celtic idea of  "Thin times" these are times that are liminal, threshold experiences between two realities. Dusk and Dawn are liminal times. In the calendar of the Celts the  last day of October and the first days of November are a thin time between the warm and the cold parts of the year. After the harvest time, the divide between the living and the dead is blurred. The  ghosts may appear those nights and the Sidhe, the Banshee, roam the land and call and knock at doors of homes wherein someone will die the next year.
We have a remnant of this sacred time in HALLOWEEN and in the All Souls and ALL Saints holy days of the Catholic Church.
Hispanic cultures observe a similar time in their celebration of THE DAY OF THE DEAD so recently explored in the film COCO.

Let's turn our imaginations back to Morrigan, she is a Queen and a Goddess but she is also a Hag. Time and Famine have robbed her of her beauty and she keens for Ireland and for all the millions who died in the famine of 1847-49,

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Pat Issarescu, MD--a friend in need and in deed --R.I.P.


Reading the obituary in the Journal of Dr. Issarescu who worked for years as an Emergency Room Doctor, I was not surprised to learn that she had a motto as she would  move from one emergency to another  ISSARESCU TO THE RESCUE.

She certainly came to my rescue  on more than one occasion --and not even in the  Emergency room.  I met Pat socially  through the good offices of her sister Anne Kennedy Ilacqua  at marvelous  family get togethers at  Xmas and other occasions. We  often chatted and she  told me of her fascinating marriage to Dr Issarescu who was from Romania.

That fact came to the forefront when I found  myself a little baffled in a terminal in Germany waiting to transfer to a Romanian airline for the final leg of my journey to Romania. Jet-lagged and not reading the perfect German signage, I kept wandering.  Someone finally directed me  through many walkways to the departure area for Romania. As I stood in line exhausted waiting for yet another  seat assignment, I suddenly heard a friendly voice-SPEAKING ENGLISH. 
Is that you, Norma I turned hearing my name and Pat was standing there. 
I am waiting for a seat. I am going to Romania.
Oh, so are we.  But why stand in this line? Come join us in the VIP  Lounge and they will take care of  your seat. I went into a comfortable room with a lavish  buffet on  a central table and chairs and sofas and magazines on tables.

Once I sat and Pat introduced me to her husband, an airline rep came over and took my ticket and assigned  me a  seat. Not in first class, but  very close to it.  What a relief. 

 The flight was brief and easy and when we landed in Bucharest I saw Pat and her husband swept up in an official welcome, and she sent people to help me with my bags and to be sure that someone was waiting for me at the Gate.

There was a delegation waiting from the American consulate because I was there to take up a Senior Fulbright and would  be teaching for a year  in Timisoara, another city in Romania.
I would remain in Bucharest for an orientation for four days with others of that year's Fulbright award winners.

So just  four days later I was taken to the train station in Bucharest and handed over to a porter. At the week-long Country Orientation in Washington,DC,  I had been told to bring cartons of cigarettes to Romania as a way of tipping people there and of obtaining favors.

 So when the porter stowed  my bags over my head, I asked  him to  take the small carry-on  down, and I  fished in it and came  up with two packs of Marlboros. He  smiled with pleasure, but he had seen that I had cartons in that bag and suddenly he would not give the bag back to me. We engaged in a tug of war, and  I am sure I was shouting.  Suddenly a uniformed figure was at the door of the compartment. He  banished the porter and restored my cigarette treasure trove, and then asked me to join the important guests in the  first class compartment near mine. I did and Dear Reader what did I find but Dr. Pat and her husband Dr. Stefan!

They were on their way to Stefan's ancestral village and he had been gifted with a huge picnic  basket of food so that he would not  get hungry in the 2 hour  train ride. We attacked that basket with gusto since there is no food on Romanian trains except for what wandering gypsies bring through to sell when they throng the train at every station stop. So again Pat used her magical powers and appeared in my time of need.
OH STOP you are saying --surely  you knew that  she would be on the same train.
I shared only one of Pat's great traits--I also was and am a voracious reader. So when we  met and when we spoke, there was little or no factual  or practical exchange. NO SMALL TALK. We immediately got to the important business of sharing what we were currently reading and described it. As I recall I had spent much of our time on the airplane and in the lounge in Bucharest showing her the paperback I was absorbed in and scared by. It was  INTO THIN AIR an account of the mountain climbing party that had  attempted to scale Mount  Everest and had lost several members of its party including the famous guide. In fact on the train I gave Pat my copy because I had finished  reading it.

Their train stop came up too soon --mine was a few more hours down the line.  I walked with them to the door of the train, and  they were greeted by a welcoming  group that included a small brass band. It seems Stefan was a  close member of the former  Royal Family and was given much respect and acclaim as people from his family's estates stood and sang and bowed before him.  HOW AMAZING IS THAT?

Pat gave me a hug and turned me over to a friendly porter and I went back to my compartment. That was  my last sight of them in Romania.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor MacGregor in the Bucket


Conor lost the fight but he will fight again. His clan is one of the most famous in Celtic history for coming back from defeat,
Here is their song  --Andy Stewart recorded it
Gather Grigalach!
The moon's on the lake, and the mist's on the brae, And the Clan has a name that is nameless by day; Then gather, gather, gather Grigalach! Gather, gather, gather Grigalach! Our signal for fight, that from monarchs we drew, Must be heard but by night in our vengeful haloo! Then haloo, Grigalach! haloo, Grigalach! Haloo, haloo, haloo, Grigalach! Glen Orchy's proud mountains, Coalchuirn and her towers, Glenstrae and Glenlyon no longer are ours; We're landless, landless, landless, Grigalach! Landless, landless, landless, Grigalach! But doom'd and devoted by vassal and lord, MacGregor has still both his heart and his sword! Then courage, courage, courage, Grigalach! Courage, courage, courage, Grigalach! If they rob us of name, and pursue us with beagles, Give their roofs to the flame, and their flesh to the eagles! Then vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, Grigalach! Vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, Grigalach! While there's leaves in the forest, and foam on the river, MacGregor despite them, shall flourish for ever! Come then Grigalach, come then Grigalach, Come then, come then, come then Grigalach! Through the depths of Loch Katrine the steed shall career, O'er the peak of Ben Lomond the galley shall steer, The rocks of Craig-Royston like icicles melt, Ere our wrongs be forgot, or our vengeance unfelt! Then gather, gather, gather Grigalach! Gather, gather, gather Grigalach!


What made him do it? After forcing a submission on Conor McGregor with a choke hold, his opponent  leapt from the  Octagon to assault McGregor's cornerman. Why did he do that?

Of course, I was rooting for McGregor.  If you have one ounce of Irish blood, you must be hoping for the boy from Dublin who speaks the Irish language and has his own whiskey brand.
Now there is a son of the soil --just as homegrown as the other side of the coin-- BART O'K our new Supreme Court Judge.

We must own  up to both of them, but Conor is more exciting--both cut from the same cloth. One totally repressed until he meets a beer, and the other totally unleashed until he meets a choke hold.
Being somewhat pugnacious myself, I admire more the man who can show his strength to the world and  dare it to claw back.. AND of course it does.

Better than the altar boy type who  feigns total innocence until he gets a drink and uses that to excuse his sudden fall from virtue.
No, for me there is no mystery in either personality.  But the actions of  Khabib puzzle me.

They say that Khabib  was disturbed by some comments about his  faith (Islam) and nationality (Russian). I find no evidence of that in the photos and film of their encounter.The only words that were lip read  from Conor are "This is just business." Said at the close of the third round-- I guess meaning  there is nothing personal here.

 The outcome of the fight was certain as soon as Khabib took Conor to the floor. Conor is a striker and wants to  fight on his feet. All of his few defeats have been through choke hold submissions. Khabib is undefeated. But Conor is a McGregor and that means a lot as we are reminded in the old song " McGregors to spite them will flourish  forever."

Would I like to see them fight again?
Only if Conor can figure out how to stay standing and striking. Otherwise don't mess with Khabib,

Saturday, October 6, 2018



I have decided to stop grumbling about the disappearance of the blog entry that I wrote in 2015 about Flavius Boucher and his skills as a sculptor. I thought of trying to recapture that blog's details and instead I recalled that I had often wanted to amend it or add  something about the rest of  the Boucher family who played such a  big role in shaping  my sense of a possible  alternative to family life different than my own.

I have mentioned that  when I returned to Englewood  Avenue  after the year long exile on York Avenue, I was placed in the 4th grade. That meant that I skipped the third  grade and that reflected the fact that I had been in a combined  second and third grade classroom when I was at St Theresa's School.

In the new 4th grade I became friends with Lucille Boucher. She lived  in a three decker  at the start of Columbus  Avenue  and their  backyard abutted McCoy Stadium.  Their household was made up of three children -Raymond, Lucille and Arlene. And their mother Cecile and their father Flavius.

Since I also walked the length of South bend Street four times a day to go back and forth to school and home for lunch, we became walking friends and then  good friends. Lucille invited  me to her  house after school and there I met  her parents and siblings and her fluffy and brilliant dog Pecos.  I was enchanted by them all.

There was a lot to be enchanted by--they spoke a different language--FRENCH.
Pecos would only obey commands in French! Smart dog!

They came from a different country-- QUEBEC!

Their mother was  brilliant cook . 

Their father was  a genius sculptor. NEED I SAY MORE?

OK I will say more.  I felt  like I had found a treasure of domestic possibility  in Pawtucket--right down the street.

The more  I played at Lucille's house the more the wonders of their family  were revealed. Cecile would take off her apron and  put make up on before Flavius came home promptly for supper.
And Flavius did come home every night all gritty and covered with dust from work. And they kissed when he came in the door and his wife and children welcomed him, And his wife called him a pet name--Bonhomme,  I have never tried to write that word  before and I am not sure of the spelling  but it means  MY GOOD MAN.

This was an alternative world to mine--- not that my mother and father did not love each other, but it was not said out loud. After all--she was Irish and he was Yankee. They did not  have these domestic rituals that hold a child's world together.
It felt like I had entered an alternative universe.

Yes, my father came  home, but we  never  knew when.  My mother would fret over keeping his supper warm and  often he complained that it was dry or over-cooked. And after my father  left us for good, my mother went to work on the second shift of a factory and  I ran to Lucille's house every night. After I had dried the dishes and refused the bad meal that Aunt Anna somehow produced. I ran down the stairs and into the fresh night air.

 I can recall so vividly  opening the back outside  door  on Columbus  Avenue and  standing in the darkened hallway before knocking on their door. When it was opened,  Cecile would greet me and I would help her put the dishes away and she would take out a  plate of food that she had  kept warm for me in the oven.

Flavius would often be sitting in their living room and be busy with some project.  I recall one  that went on for weeks. He was making an aquarium-- from scratch--and he was cutting the glass and joining it. Then he built a wooden frame for it and it stood one evening  as he placed the decorative  shells and stones and  filled it with water, He prepared  everything for the  fish. When they splashed and began swimming, we all cheered and Pecos barked wildly. What a great night.

 Now as an old person I see that this scene particularly dazzled me because it was at the time when I felt so abandoned  by my father.  Flavius was my new  father model. And I was lucky to have found him.That sense of the wonders of Flavius Boucher only increased when I found out that he was also a sculptor. He made busts of each of his children in granite--I wonder if they have those  artifacts wherever they are today.

Then he began to take an interest in creating statues of historical figures.  And he made  busts of figures like Eisenhower, and Pope Pius and Abraham Lincoln.  He  wanted to enter some  exhibitions that he  became aware of,  and that is when he enlisted my help.
Flavius could not write in English and his reading was limited also.  He would bring books home from the library with entries about the figures he was  sculpting.  

My job was to read them all and then tell him what they said in slow and  easy English.  Then he would try to tell me what he wanted to say about the person or especially about the character of the rock itself  that he was using. He had a lot to say about rock. In fact he gave me a vocabulary for my interest in rock formations.

 After several exchanges over several evenings, I would sentence  by sentence make up a narrative that he approved. Then my job was to print it on large white cardboard which he then displayed next to the bust that he was entering in the exhibit.

I never heard much after that.  Although I do know that he won some of the prizes and people began asking him to make  busts for them.  On his own initiative he made a statue of Saint Joseph that he  gave to the parish church, and for years I would see it daily in the church yard. It is no longer there. 

Flavius  is gone and his work is gone--but he worked in granite. Surely those granite artifacts are somewhere. He lives in my memory, and that is why I want to remember him here. He was a genius and he was one of my life's greatest teachers because he taught that brilliance has nothing to do with education or social status.
I  cherish the  lessons that he gave in  dogged determination and also in his constant following of his own  inner artistic compass.

He is the greatest  example of  the adage of Gorki that I quote:
Genius is a bird that can alight on the branch of any tree.
Just think, it alighted on a three decker on Columbus Avenue. Where is it alighting tonight?