‘Humans of Irish America’ – Stuart’s Story (Limerick).

September 14th, 2015
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A turnip-farmer called Stuart, probably.

“We were turnip-farmers by trade. My grandfather once told me that our family had been since the 18th century, providing the south Limerick and north Kerry area with turnips for generations. Kids would always beg their parents to let them come to our house for wondrous turnip treats. So, when we moved from our 120 acre turnip farm to a small flat in Limerick’s inner city, it was quite a change. We had a small window box, which fit three turnip seeds, and, I don’t know if you know the turnip business, but it takes time to nurture, love and develop such a contrary vegetable, so three adult male turnips every four years was not enough to live on. Three weeks ago, we moved to Chicago, all of us. It’s worked out great, my dad, with forty years farming experience changed direction, and now heads up a $4billion a year software company. It’s just as well, as I was allergic to turnips, even the thoughts of them gave me chronic diarrhea. Excuse me, I’ll be back in a few minutes”. – Stuart (49), formerly Limerick, now Chicago. 

Horace’s Story (Offaly).

September 14th, 2015
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The lads on their way fishing.

We were all fishermen. Me, my brothers, my uncles, even mam would come out on the boat with us. Not Dad though. He used to think the seagulls were staring at him. Later, he developed an intense fear of being attacked by an octopus, so he stayed home, making jam all day. It was hard work, the fishing, not the jam-making, 14-hour days, six to seven days a week. Where we lived didn’t help. We were from Tullamore, County Offaly, which is in the middle of Ireland, so to get to Donegal, it was a nine-hour round trip every day. After years of this, we moved to the USA. What could go wrong for a fisherman there? The Pacific on one side, the Atlantic on the other, perfect! So, we moved somewhere that would be equally close to both oceans. Nobody told us though, that Kansas was so far from the water that some folks called it ‘The Tullamore of America’. It was a 19-hour drive to either coast. I gave up after a while. A neighbor used to give me a lift the first four miles, but then I had to hitchhike the other 1,573. Now I work in a biscuit factory, it’s alright, they let us keep the broken ones. I f**kin’ hate biscuits though”. – Horace (49) Offaly, now Kansas.

Dermot’s Story (Dublin).

September 14th, 2015
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Dermot, possibly.

“We moved from Dublin’s inner city, to a rural part of Wyoming, back in the early ’80s. It was a more innocent time. You could rob someone’s bike without fear of them going to the cops, or smash some oul’ ones windows for the craic, and not worry about getting in trouble for it. Now things are gone to hell. I remember well, me Da, telling us, a few days after we’d gotten settled in Wyoming, that we were going to go and visit the farmer’s market in the town center. I was delighted, but I thought he’d said farmer’s ‘meerkat’, not ‘market’. I’d never seen a meerkat before, and when we got there, it was just some oul’ lad with a stall with loads of potatoes and cabbages on it. I turned around to me Da and said, ‘Da, this is shite’. He’s barely spoken to me since. Here we are, 35 years later, and I’ve still not seen a real meerkat. There was a show about them on TV a while ago, you don’t see potatoes and cabbages having their own shows”. (Dermot – 55, Dublin, now Wyoming).

Jim’s Story (Wexford).

September 14th, 2015
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A child with a hoop and stick, not similar to a Nintendo Gameboy.

“I’d seen all the American movies. ‘E.T.’, ‘Stand By Me’, ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, so I had a good idea about what America was like. But, when we moved to Oklahoma from Enniscorthy, County Wexford, I couldn’t understand how nobody looked like John Travolta or Pamela Anderson, how they rarely wore shoes or socks, and how the adults all seemed to be chewing on pieces of straw all the time. I remember my first birthday party there. I asked for a Nintendo Gameboy, they were all the rage at the time, and some absolute bollocks got me this stupid bloody stick and hoop. Me ma made me play with it for ages out in the front garden, hours after everyone had gone home, even when it was dark. I was 19 for God’s sake. She even put videos of it online. She made me wear a dress too. She could be an awful argumentative oul’ bitch, me ma”.– Jim (27), Wexford, now Oklahoma.

Caroline’s Story (County Louth).

September 14th, 2015
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A family, yesterday.

“It was weird for us, being the only Mormon family in Termonfeckin, County Louth. Each Sunday, to go to service, we had an eleven-hour round trip, as the nearest prayer center was on a small island off the coast of Galway, and sometimes, if the weather was particularly harsh, we’d be stranded there for some weeks. So, when Mom suggested we move to Utah, the whole family agreed that it’d be like moving ‘home’, so we upped sticks, literally, as we did have lots of sticks, and moved to Utah, the Mormon capital of the world. Sadly, Mom got chatting to a Jewish couple on the plane, and was so impressed by them, she ended up converting all of us to Judaism. Now we’re the only Jewish family in a Utah town of 86,412. It’s shite, I never thought I’d miss Termonfeckin”. – Caroline (28), Termonfeckin, County Louth, now Utah.

Marian’s Story (Wicklow).

September 14th, 2015
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Watchin’ the oul’ telly-box.

“I remember one time, years ago, at home in County Wicklow, we were watching ‘Little House on the Prairie’ on the telly. It was Mam’s favorite show, that, ‘The Waltons’ and ‘Cops’, you know the one, where they do sing ‘Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What You Gonna Do, What You Gonna Do, When They Come For You’, well she did love that too, so it might have been that one. Anyway, she said to Dad that she did love all the lovely scenery on the American telly shows, with the mountains and the rivers and the horses. So we moved to the South Bronx. Lived here 43 years now, but there’s hardly any mountains or rivers here at all, so there isn’t. So every week she writes to the TV people, callin” them a load of lyin’, connivin’ bastards”. – Marian (51), formerly Wicklow, now Bronx, New York.

An 11th Day of a 9th Month – A New Mom’s Story.

September 11th, 2015

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I’d a feeling he’d not be back. It wasn’t, like, female intuition, or anything weird, just, I don’t know, something. He kissed me as he was leaving, I was half asleep, and he didn’t normally do that, he was usually dashing out the door, dead late, not being able to find his keys, his wallet, his phone, his, I don’t know, something he needed. He was always losing things. Just the day before he lost his Giants hat, a raggedy woolen cap he’d bought for about four bucks years earlier. We turned the apartment inside out, but couldn’t find it. You’d think he’d lost his home, he was that upset.

That day, I don’t know, he’d had the time to kiss me on the cheek. He never had time in the morning. It was as if he was planning something, like he’d gotten up early especially. I could hear him clattering around the kitchen, tripping over his boots, he dropped a spoon on the tiled floor in the kitchen, and my God, it was so bloody loud. He’d obviously almost caught it as it hit the floor and bounced back up an inch or so, then missed, and lashed out to catch it, only to swat it against the wall, also tiled, incidentally, to make a teaspoon sound as if an out of tune brass band was playing in our kitchen.

He’d made coffee too, he never did that. Especially now, I suppose, with the baby on the way, and my coffee intake had been severely curtailed. He’d drink coffees at work, every so often he’d come home and I could still smell it off him, but he tried to deny it, being, as he was, in solidarity with me for the nine months, and avoiding all the bad stuff. Good stuff really, but, you know. Except beer of course, we’d made that agreement. He needed his beers every second Friday with the guys when he worked the day shift. After softball too, but that was a summer thing, he was considering playing soccer with some of the Irish guys at work, just so he could grab a few cold ones after, but he knew that’d be stretching it. He once went to kick a soccer ball back to kids playing on our street and mistimed his kick and ended up on his butt, but that was him, and why people loved him. I didn’t care, as long as he was here when the baby came, he could enjoy all the free time he wanted. That’s just it though, he wouldn’t be here when the baby came.

People say move on, but, they don’t know, they’ve not been where I am. Many have, thousands actually, have been very close to where I am, many from this very city, nearly 3,000 I think. Then, there’s a handful just like me, not many, expecting their first child with a partner who went out to work and never came home. The sad thing for me, besides the obvious of course, losing my life’s love, the man who, without wishing to move in on cliché territory, completed me, was the fact that I was oblivious to most of what was happening. It was 2001 remember, smartphones didn’t exist, even cellphones, they weren’t everywhere like they are now. If you went outside without your phone, like I almost always did, it wasn’t the end of the world. You didn’t have to check Facebook, read your emails, listen to Spotify or Pandora, check out the news. Everything could wait. I’d a TV, a radio, even a computer, nothing was that important that it couldn’t wait a few minutes. Unless it was a text from your husband to say he loved you and that he might not make it. Some things, I suppose, are that important.

I’d stopped going to the gym, obviously, in an advanced state of pregnancy, well, walking was about all I could manage. So that was it, a quick trip to the supermarket where I’d stroll around the aisles, looking for things I didn’t need, and ogling things I couldn’t have. It was just after 8am. Walking down the cereals aisle though, there appeared a change in the atmosphere. People began walking quicker. Whispers got louder, people were huddling. Some random guy ran in, past the checkouts, I thought it was a shoplifter, but why was he running into the store, not out? He was wearing running gear, I’ll never forget. An orange Nike top and blue and white tracksuit bottoms, he looked like he was a Mets fan with those colors, but he wore a Yankees cap. It’s funny, I remember that so well. Even now, I still think of that man, every time I see the Mets on television, even though he was probably a fan of the Yankees. He shouted something about a plane hitting the Twin Towers. Jesus, I thought, some poor flight-enthusiast, one of these amateur pilots, their poor family, but what were they doing flying over downtown Manhattan, it was so dangerous.

The assistant manager put on the little portable TV to see what was happening, what we saw wasn’t what we expected. Just as he flicked to NBC, the second plane hit. I was right. He wasn’t coming home. I’m glad he kissed me that day, I’m glad he dropped his spoon too and kept me awake, listening to his clumsy rush to get to work, his swearing because he couldn’t find his wallet, his keys, his phone.

I found his Giants hat. A few days later, during one of my cleaning frenzies, quite a few of which I’d had that September. In a few years, maybe our little boy won’t mind wearing such a raggedy old relic that his Dad, perhaps unintentionally left him. He’d have loved his Dad, maybe he’ll love the Giants too.

Excerpts from “Counting Apples”

September 8th, 2015

unnamed (2)‘Counting Apples’ is a one-act play, written by Michael Fitzpatrick. In the Spring of 2015, Michael entered the play into Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s short play festival, where it came up against over thirty other productions. It told the story of a young couple, their friend, and an incident which drove them together and tore them apart. It clinched its heat, and despite being up against strong opposition with TV, film and Broadway experience, went on to win the festival. Featuring stellar performances by real-life husband and wife actors John and Grainne Duddy, and Michael in his first appearance on stage, ‘Counting Apples’ (directed by Brona Crehan) had eight performances, all of which sold out. On behalf of the writer, director and cast, Michael would like to thank the many people who showed up on the nights (as well as those who were with us in spirit) and provided such wonderful encouragement, inspiration, love and support. To John, Grainne and Brona, who gave absolutely everything, ‘Counting Apples’ was an incredible experience, from the moment the first word was written, until the announcement that we’d won, and Michael hopes to work with these wonderful talents again (and again).

(Excerpts from) Counting Apples

By Michael Fitzpatrick.

Note: This is just selected passages and lines from the play, ‘Counting Apples’, not the production in its entirety.

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Michael Fitzpatrick (Terry), Grainne Duddy (Samantha) and John Duddy (Brian).

  First Presented at Manhattan Repertory Theatre, West 42nd Street, New York City, June 16th 2015.

8 Performances until July 2nd.

Featuring

John Duddy, Grainne Duddy and Michael Fitzpatrick

Directed by Brona Crehan.

Opening and Closing Song: ‘Dilin O’Deamhas’ performed by Brona Crehan.

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John Duddy, Michael Fitzpatrick, Brona Crehan (Director) and Grainne Duddy.

Minimal stage set. Brian and Samantha sit next to one another, while on the other side of the stage, Terry sits alone. Neither side acknowledges the other, while Brian and Samantha are together, Terry is seemingly, in his own world.

Lights up, 2 verses of Dilin O Deamhas in Irish.

Samantha: Everyone thought I was nuts. Eleven different magazines I’d subscribed to. ‘Modern Bride’, ‘Irish Weddings’, ‘Bridal Fair’, ‘Weddings Today’, ‘American Bride’, and of course, all the celebrity wedding specials in Hello!, OK! And US Weekly magazine, it was crazy! But, I was so excited. I must’ve been a right pain in the arse!! I was probably that bubbly bride that people hated!

Brian: I teased her afterwards, reading the receipts for the wedding day; Band – $900, Harpist – $400, Flowers – $750, Subscriptions to wedding/bridal magazines – $2,451.38. I’m exaggerating of course, not by much mind you!

 

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The cast with some of our good friends who supported us during the run.

 

Terry: It doesn’t go away. That feeling. Fear, guilt, shame, whatever it is. Every morning when I’d wake, it would all be still there, right in front of me, staring, pointing fingers, shouting, you’re evil Terry. But I’m not evil. I used to be a good man.

 

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Grainne and John Duddy as Samantha and Brian.

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Michael Fitzpatrick as Terry.

 

Samantha: Afterwards, Brian explained why he didn’t call me right away. He said that he wanted to give me ten more minutes of a normal life. He said he’d have left it longer, but that he was selfish and couldn’t suffer alone any longer. Those ten minutes, ignorant of all the tragedy, I wish I could have them back, but it’s not all I’d like to have back.

Lights fade slowly, 2 verses of Dilin O Deamhas in English.

End

 

The Boy on the Beach.

September 4th, 2015

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The Boy on the Beach
No soldiers, no football, no dinosaurs too,
No trains, cars or airplanes, or fun he was due,
The love and the laughter, the dreams and the joy,
All now but memories of that gorgeous boy
The child on the beach, remembered in song,
Once loved, now a symbol of all that’s gone wrong,
A world undeserving of his short troubled life,
A beautiful kid, dealt a hand filled with strife.
In an era of hope, he’s been cast against type,
He was nobody’s problem, or anyone’s gripe,
A baby, a toddler, a boy, not yet a teen,
The world should react to this horrific scene,
No soldiers, no football, no dinosaurs too,
He could have belonged to me or to you.

The Boy on the Beach

September 4th, 2015

beachc

The Boy on the Beach
No soldiers, no football, no dinosaurs too,
No trains, cars or airplanes, or fun he was due,
The love and the laughter, the dreams and the joy,
All now but memories of that gorgeous boy
The child on the beach, remembered in song,
Once loved, now a symbol of all that’s gone wrong,
A world undeserving of his short troubled life,
A beautiful kid, dealt a hand filled with strife.
In an era of hope, he’s been cast against type,
He was nobody’s problem, or anyone’s gripe,
A baby, a toddler, a boy, not yet a teen,
The world should react to this horrific scene,
No soldiers, no football, no dinosaurs too,
He could have belonged to me or to you.