TThe Chronicles of Rosalia Janus Hawthorne: The Welsh Archive

The Chronicles of Rosalia Janus Hawthorne

Part 1.

The Archive of Clan ap Gruffyd

From Gruffyd ap Hughes, the Welsh Archive 8.8.2/495

I have lit a fire on the headland, the sea is pounding, do not desist for the time is heavy, my love. The flame tree, as we call it, is about to bloom, the water is silky green and there are stars in it. Though the moon is waning, we must not be disheartened, my heart, amidst all our enemies, I am here. I shall never give in and I love you. I wake earlier each day for the equinox warms my blood and my dreams are vigorous and strong; I know what is calling us and it is not yet time to cede dominion to that utter darkness. I refute it. I will not have my clan go down again to the charnel house.

My flesh is not young nor is it raddled and my arms are strong, desire is in me, hot and syrupy. Waiting. It is no long easy and I had patience for that task once. Our girl is thriving in the Summerhouse though it be cold and winter still groping at us. She does not seem to mind that at all; her eyes are as deep as yours with mystery upon her like a wave, white and foamy, blue with fish; the dolphins will come this morning as it almost sunrise. A pearly day though it will cut up later and still my bones sing of you, beloved, I feel you coming somewhere, not death itself can divide us. The edge of the world is dancing. Much change sings at the hinges of the universe and I will not heed the warnings of the Alpacheks yet. They are useful to me. I sharpen, each morning, the knife you gave to me; it is a deadly thing in its beauty and its purpose. Two eagle feathers fell here a yestereve ago, an omen, the prophecy moves on inexorably and I tell you, I tire of it. Webbed within the skeins of time, we will cut through this time. I feel it in the child; she is as alien as the meerkat we hunted once and never caught. Her eyes surrender nothing.

You know I can still hear how the music in your voice is great, though they will say I am one sided in this, I refuse to deny your purity in song and truth, In that I remain incorruptible. I will, this lifetime, act upon the tapestry itself for I feel the drive of it, can no longer resist it. The fire was the beginning. The predators will not ignore it, it signals war; nor should they; it is my first statement, first kill; no longer to hide in the crevices of the mountain. Long have I healed here with our daughter, and I tell you true Rhiannon, she is well and will sing the valleys back through time. The time to dissemble is done.

Later I will go down to the sands and set your sea harp down for the wind to play. Yea verily, there will be war, but that was always inevitable. Our little one Anwyn Rose is walking now and she asks of you, questions only you can answer. Her hair is fair and strawberry in hue and she is all moon gold and the creatures of this quiet island follow everything she does. I did not accept that she will be the Chosen One. No more victims for the alter of time, it is done. It is a true gift that she lived at all, when they brought her, fresh from your womb. I counted her breaths with her, as mine, until that tiny ember of her spirit took flame. She was so tiny the women here almost despaired but I knew where and when we forged her, my love, and I know what flows in her veins. If you could but see her it would set a smile upon your face; only in dreams I know, and hard, so cruel on you, her mother, but I swear to you Rhiannon she hears your music. I have watched her little feet patterning to the sound of your sea harp. Thus I have moved the plan forward although Tele, my oldest brother in arms, has warned me that they will keep you longer in the darkness and that thought alone has almost unbalanced me for I know how much you need light. My woman of flowers and fire, keep it alive in memory, in the eyes of your mind, in the ventricles of your heart. I, so much more that all the others who love you, know that you are not able to give in. But you may fade, my sweet, and that is what often drives me forward. They think that by imprisoning you, I will make a mistake. How little do they know of us. Your pain is the probe that stills my every judgement and I would not forswear it for all our lives. I will balance it in time. In time. You will not allow me to be less than what I am… but I will have vengeance when the world dances around the flames of its own destruction. For you and Anwyn Rose, my Rhiannon, I will settle it on my own scales of justice. It is strange but I believe that our daughter understands this as she understands how to breathe. It is so simple to a soul so wise. She does not even have to work at it. Morning has come here now; and it hurts me to think how they will not let it come to you, and in this you must believe, each night I send to you in dreaming, all the gold and green and colours that I know. The flowers that you love, colour, so much colour that you are almost blinded with it; and in that colour I ask you my love: stay but the time, I cannot yet, if ever, bear to loose you. But I know you so well and you have become far too still; therefore I am coming.

I have sent my men to Danger Point and the young man on lookout on Mount Agony reports of odd movements on the mainland, and he with eyes like young falcon; a cousin of your he is, Iestyn. Many of the men and women are dwelling in the sea caves with the old people; they have safe haven there, though not freedom. Hard is the waiting, but the heart will yield to that, but not utter defeat. The young men are rebuilding the fleet your father once designed before the great madness overtook him and he succumbed to that dark woman, regardless, the design is excellent; ingenious and cunning. Forgive me, I know you hate to be reminded of him, but the dead must have their due and he did father you. All the dead, the wise, the stupid and the brave, who are we to judge them; many of their deed s were great, though evil in design much good came from them. Strange. The wise old man told me when I was young that it was my task to make the sacrifices of the dead meaningful. It is a hard old time to be born into, but needs must when the devil rides as the old man said. I laid three stones on his grave last Solstice moon.

I believe the stars themselves are changing now. Those great and ancient star charts are no longer settled, they are moving and no longer reliable. When I was a boy my teacher foretold this. For we were boys once, all my brothers and I; we laughed and played and made mischief in the world of childhood; a grace for which only now am I truly thankful. For my father’s patience alone, I am indebted, he was secure enough to let us roam free like untrammeled animals and he bestowed upon us that confidence that will make a wild boy into a resilient man. I miss him, still. Laughter and the hall and the harp and the sweet warmth of my mother’s smile. Some of the clan distrusted my father’s judgement in his sons; he chose to disappoint their singular expectations. A man of deep ironies, he knew the ambitions of his kinsmen only too well. But I and my brothers were innocent of court politics then; and he ensured that we stayed that way in all the country of a childhood unbetrayed by malice. A great man and a wise father. All those gifts that you never tasted my Rhiannon, would that I could give them now. Not so, you are matchless my love, perhaps because you grew up so differently to me. Thus I will give our daughter a childhood beyond cruelty, a garden to grow and to plant each flower of her innocence and a time to play in the world without recourse to fear or hiding; or the ancient curse that we broke to set her free into this world.

Wait for me, Rhiannon. Swear it on the blood bond we forged in the cells of our daughter. Do not lose faith with our credos, though even I know the time is growing quickly and liquid and not even love can solidify the tide that pulls our blood. O beloved I will not write again for a time. It is close to coming to undo me and I cannot permit myself that luxury, not yet. Not ever.

In Pursuit of Knowledge

The Pursuit of Knowledge

We live in an era pervaded by a tireless quest for information, it rules us as certainly as the Gods of Olympus once presided over Ancient Greece and sometimes with the same degree of wanton caprice. But what does it mean, this obsessive drive to highjack information superhighways, to harness the juggernauts that frequent the icy world of cyber-space, to drive through the lace-like conduits of virtual reality. I do not understand it and though I am much taken with the work of J.G.Ballard, William Gibson and their compatriots in guerilla literature, I must admit that I am more fascinated with the language they are creating than the stories they tell. The frontiers they are exploring are ultimately more linguistic than conceptual and the bottom line story bears an uncanny resemblance to the mythos of the lone Cowboys of North American literature and that time-honoured tradition of good versus evil. The hero triumphs, evil is vanquished and love waits in the wings. When sunset comes he (or sometimes she) vanishes over another horizon. Mind you the weaponry is much more sophisticated and the humble horse has become redundant. Its very strange. But to return to that Golden Cow, Information, the new God of our perverse culture. We must all be informed these days and to be properly informed we must have access to the latest technology that will present this information to us on a platter. Instant gratification, the politics of the market place and the insidious disease of consumerism predicate a global culture that can inform or be informed faster, quicker, bigger, better, sooner, cheaper.

Being of a peculiar cast of mind I continue to believe that information is something that you read off the side of cake mixes or milk cartons, it tells you what ingredients reside within the package and I suspect the information is tailored to suit my needs: I like to think that I am not unduly contaminating the health of my children with toxic additives which may impair their ability to function. But central to this obsession with information is an entrenched and dangerous delusion that information may be construed as knowledge. How the philosophers of Ancient Greece would have abhorred this facile notion for they valued, above all, the pursuit of knowledge and were prepared to dedicate a lifetime to rigorous intellectual endeavour in order to acquire understanding, assimilation, a foundation from which to postulate ideas. For centuries western philosophers have argued over various theories of knowledge without necessarily coming to any ultimate conclusions. Now, for myself, I am quite prepared to admit that I don’t know what it is but its obviously very valuable stuff and I wouldn’t mind having a bit of it before I shuffle off this mortal coil. I do know that knowledge may be arrived at by travelling a number of different paths and that it always requires a level of hard work. Although it is historically true that people may be struck by a kind of epiphany in pursuit of certain kinds of knowledge like Darwin who maintained that his theory of evolution came to him as he was dozing in a carriage, or Einstein’s contention that equations came to him in dreams. Normally however knowledge is rarely delivered to one like a giant sized pizza and the acquisition of it is not dependent on financial resources. Even in these dark and disturbing times there is still a free public library service although I suspect its existence becomes more precarious each day. How can one economically justify such rash and wanton institutions?

We live in a culture that is profoundly opposed to the frivolity of ideas, to thought for the sheer joy of investigation, to forms of knowledge that are completely detached from applicability or practical outcomes. Does the soul’s essentially poetic drive die a death of little things each day because it cannot claim a use-value in the market place? I think not, something in human nature will not quite bow to the new tyranny of Information. For example I know how the King Parrot is beautiful not just because my eyes transmit signals to the brain which then codifies and quantifies information and finally surmises that beauty has arrived in the birch tree on a late sunlit afternoon. I know it is beautiful with the eyes of my heart, it speaks to me of a regal beauty that will never be tamed, the lustre of its feathers, the pungency of colour, the endless fascination of its golden, unblinking eye. When it takes flight there is a surge in my blood, a yearning to go with it. I do not need one scientific fact about the nature of the bird to inform my knowledge of its beauty, it is, it needs no gilding. Watching the King Parrot I could begin to create metaphors of kings and monarchs, jewels and crowns, the true nature of royalty, a profusion of ideas, one leaping after the other and all this is part of my knowledge of its beauty, its essence. It is not just a question of aesthetics, although here we could get into rather deep philosophical water, nor is it a question of being educated into notions of beauty rather it is more like Keats’ famous summation Truth is beauty and beauty is truth. The bird as metaphor, the bird as flying word. Ah me, it gets difficult.

If I were to reduce the King Parrot to a set of descriptors: habitat, food, geographical distribution, lifespan, reproduction, what exactly would I know? A series of facts, a set of scientific observations that do not account for my reaction to the bird nor my intrinsic understanding of its beauty. Nor can it account for this spontaneous combustion of creativity by association. Nothing can. But it is enough, this discursive perambulation, I must return to what I originally wanted to analyse.

Prelude to the Chronicles of Rosalia Janus Hawthorne

From the Chronicles of Rosalia Janus Hawthorne

Abfyle delete. Install Alwyneugenics 44/2×77/3-9-2×4

Pythagorean Theorem 3; Quantum field 11

All true journey is return

It was a voice both human and beyond human, needing neither time nor mass to cede it. authority. Outside the boundaries of the 11/2 polar axii it swept through the origins of the origins of the universe until it found the last child sleeping: Rose Hawthorne (8.0.8.06/4.5.2-8 to the power of 2). A prophecy that had destroyed itself and the child wound in threads of fate within it. And the voice was rich and wise and said little; calling her gently from the rivers of eternity where language slid through the crevices of memory; and all the child could do was turn; restless and unassailable in her fortress of pain. And as that great voice, almost without effort, waited, time stalled at the centre of galaxies and planets gathered to the vortex of its resonance. As the child, once foretold in the hissing leaves of song, remained entrapped in her broken spells and the implacable stone walls of her past. Time stopped, it was no longer relevant to Rose who played beyond the shores of consciousness where the terror of the past and present lived, and she pitted her will in endless games against the ice lynx in a unmapped cartography. A secret menagerie in her mind.

Only music could web through that splintered soul and only music would, perhaps, if Rosalia chose, have been given license to bind her, though loosely and with love to another space in time, another world, another set of choices. To bind

with love, so that worlds might move again and energy returns from entropy. And the voice, both tortoise shelled and ginger in tone, applied all its formidable tonal maps to granting Rose a wish. The wish of her heart. Eight seconds of absolute silence. A choice to be made in the lair of green eyes and alien cats; and an infinite set of possibilities.

Rosalia Janus Hawthorne defied such a gift s and slept, threading on the loom of her own making another pattern. No longer a toy, she tested choices like a drowning child retches water and then tastes air. Breathe air and breathe again. As the past retreated and left all the detritus of broken shells and rotting carcasses of mauled birds and the memories of another life, other lives. Somewhere a bird called, inadvertently, unpermitted without provocation it gave voice to the genesis of itself and the child turned toward it. The voice slid back from her, further and further, gently, it knew it was no longer require, that its presence could serve no purpose. A balance had been precariously restored and the voice almost sighed for in its way it had loved the courage of the child who once been a woman, peerless in beauty and truth; and whose sufferings were beyond the telling in any world. It new something of how she would awaken, although only a little, for it knew her well and from the alchemy of her past it intuited that she would rise again with no guilt for the past of any of her lives in any worlds and nothing of forgiveness. Like a sword forged beyond the stars, without distemper, Rosalia Hawthorne would wield a justice regardless of intent or consequence and she would flame purple as she did. Nor would she lack compassion; for that gift she had of old, almost inbred in her cells, but in this life she would use it wisely. And that alone was foreseeable, as for the rest the ancient Voice would have to wait as would many. Many others.


From the Chronicles of Rosalia Janus Hawthorne

Abfyle delete. Install Alwyneugenics 44/2×77/3-9-2×4

Pythagorean Theorem 3; Quantum field 11

All true journey is return

It was a voice both human and beyond human, needing neither time nor mass to cede it authority. Outside the boundaries of the 11/2 polar axii it swept through the origins of the origins of the universe until it found the last child sleeping: Rose Hawthorne (8.0.8.06/4.5.2-8 to the power of 2). A prophecy that had destroyed itself and the child wound in threads of fate within it. And the voice was rich and wise and said little; calling her gently from the rivers of eternity where language slid through the crevices of memory; and all the child could do was turn; restless and unassailable in her fortress of pain. And as that great voice, almost without effort, waited, time stalled at the centre of galaxies and planets gathered to the vortex of its resonance. As the child, once foretold in the hissing leaves of song, remained entrapped in her broken spells and the implacable stone walls of her past. Time stopped, it was no longer relevant to Rose who played beyond the shores of consciousness where the terror of the past and present lived, and she pitted her will in endless games against the ice lynx in a unmapped cartography. A secret menagerie in her mind.

Only music could web through that splintered soul and only music would, perhaps, if Rosalia chose, have been given license to bind her, though loosely and with love to another space in time, another world, another set of choices.

Lord Byron and The Cat House Blues

Lord Byron and the Cat House Blues

A Black Musical Comedy set in the Nutcracker Suite

Characters:

Keeper,

Lord Byron,

Catmother,

Coralyn,

Wild Girl Burnie,

Yosef,

Oberon,

Titania,

King Broderick

Scene 1

Lights up suddenly, stage is in disarray as if it is being constructed. A huge screen dominates the back of the stage, extracts of Doris Day movies, Gilligan’s Island and T3 are strangely spliced together, the Keeper sits in front of it obsessively keying material in.

Lord Byron is standing center stage, still being magnificently attired for the day’s events. He is deciding what interventions shall structure the day

Byron Now Burnie if you could repeat that screaming thing you do, you know where they have to drag you off and you froth at the mouth…

Burnie No fucking way, I got locked in the high security unit for three days for that shit

Byron How do I look?

Coralyn Beautiful my lord, just beautiful

Byron More of the red?

Burnie You are so fucked

Byron I think a touch of the ermine

King B Shut up you whining rodent, where’s your mother?

CatM here my lord, it ill behooves you..

King B Zip it woman, get me wine, woman and song, that faded git is not my son. Where are my belly dancers?

Yasuf(very solemnly) I believe in God

King B I am God

Yasuf I believe in God, he will come here

KingB I am already fucking here!

Catm King Broderick wants his belly dancers and grapes

KingB And sex, dark orgiastic feasts of young writhing limbs

Byron Sir?

KingB So much semen has dribbled from your flaccid penis

that it is a miracle of the God that you have a brain

(Enter Oberon)

Oberon Good morrow, sire

Kingb And to you

Oberon Shall we play chess?

KingB Black Jack, now(roars) bring women, opiates and rum

Oberon Shall we adjourn?

They rise, everyone on stage prostrates themselves, exit

Burnie Thank fucking Christ

Catm Places everyone, that’s it, let us begin with the

breathing, holding the diaphragm, recite after me: If you’re happy and you know it clap your paws, if your happy and you know it clap your paws, if you’re happy and you know it, then there is one way to show it, clap your paws, clap your paws, clap your paws. Now interventions please

Burnie(very overdone) What is this illness? Why do I hear these voices in my head. Am I really Joan of Arc? O France, France

Coralyn(begins to tear at her clothes) O I bear the mark of seven devils, help, help!

Yosef I believe in God, (repeats this ad nauseum)

Catmother begins to crack her whip, various nurse/writer persons try and reshape the action and are abused violently,

Keeper Quiet everyone, absolute quiet, the co-ordinates are locked in

Kelly Ryan’s Wake

It remained a matter of conjecture and debate about the exact mood the Almighty God was in the day Kelly Ryan died. He had been struck by struck by a thunderbolt as he walked into the Coonamurra showground to check his horses. It’s possible there was a Divine message hidden in this very act and those who loved Kelly wondered if his passion for the gee gees had gone too far and he should have stayed with doctoring even after his retirement. Perhaps he should have been at worship, for it was the Sabbath and he was known for the occasional lapse. Though he was much admired as the town doctor, he had his faults they all agreed. But not many.

Dr Ryan was there for birth or death, 24/7, he was perpetually on call. He presided over the birthing suite and the departure lounge and he had earned the worship of that small community. Truly good men are hard to find. What people admired as virtue Kelly Ryan enacted. So it seemed unfair to take him out so shockingly. Only his wife understood that Ryan would have been delighted. He was a man of many theories with a fierce, prodigious mind and a great dollop of pure Celtic superstition. One of his more bizarre theories remained an enduring preoccupation with electromagnetic fields and the human body. Indeed he would be proved right in his suppositions but time had yet to catch up with him.

Madge Ryan took her husband’s death deep and hard, though she had an unnatural faith in the Divine she soon abandoned it in the face of such a venomous act. Not the manner of his death but the matter of his death. She had booked herself across the Great Divide before him and it was sheer malice to leave her stranded. Their five children were devastated. Kelly Ryan has more mates than a sperm whale. He had roamed the country in his youth, and the internet in his retirement. Those who met him fell hard for his Irish charm and his endless entertaining stories. And, of course, the whiskey. With the funeral notice in town and country newspapers came an extraordinary number of people who had met him, been doctored, birthed, played the horses, been part time priests, practicing shamans or well known prostitutes. Ryan always had a calling for the marginalized. And now they badly wanted to redeem their debt to a good man gone down to death far too soon and too strangely.

Madge coped with the passing parade for two days and then went to bed and left all the proceedings to her children. It was not a simple funeral. No less than nine priests needed to participate in the service. The nuns nodded approvingly. A good man needed many priests at his funeral although Ryan himself would have laughed at this notion, and said a truly bad man needed more.

An Irish Catholic funeral is good theatre at the worst of times and Ryan’s best mate was a priest who’s name was Jim. Priests are funny fish but Father Jim had heard the call late in life and had no lack of life experience. Not a whole lot shocked him.

Jim thought he might know why Madge Ryan had taken to her bed with such a vengeance. The Ryan family clan were complex and divisive and all five children came home for their father’s funeral. Kelly and Madge had produced a seething morass of unusual progeny. The eldest daughter Tara was quite sufficient in herself. And then there was Erin, Rosanna, Eamon and Kelly Ryan Junior. When all the children had arrived with all the welcome and unwelcome guests the Ryan family home was bursting at its seams. Tents had been constructed in the garden and still the mourners flowed in. There would be an abnormal level of argument, Ryan senior had loved a good fight, any form of a verbal blue and a brawl. Tribute would have to be paid to this long family tradition. There also had to be some fisticuffs, for pugilism was part of a long genetic inheritance. As was serious intellectual debate.

Tara Ryan was in a terrible mood. Her father had no right to die. She hadn’t finished a long ongoing argument about the nature of patriarchy and capitalism, apart from other things. Erin on the other hand had needed to fly back home from London and arrived bedraggled and exhausted and absolutely beside herself. Eamon rang through. At first he said he wouldn’t come to his father’s funeral. He hadn’t quite finished a long and complex set of theological disquisitions about the nature of the Divine. He wasn’t at all sure he had won the argument. In all conscience, he had said to his sister, he couldn’t attend a religious service in a church. Kelly Junior was a practicing Buddhist and had no real problem with any kind of service. Madge Ryan stayed in her bed. When Eamon finally relented he came with Ryan clan’s one and only grandchild. To Madge, this was the only positive event in the whole shennanigans. Eamon had denied paternity in every and which way, but the child appeared to be the spitting image of his father. Kelly Ryan’s gene’s had been perpetuated. And there was reason to believe that there might be something in Divine providence after all.

It took four days to organize the actual funeral service; the priests bickered and quarreled in a rather unnerving way while the nuns stood by watching with malicious amusement. Father Jim won the contest hands down, he had been Kelly’s friend since they were youths. Meanwhile the drinking was predictably outrageous, and an endless supply of food moved in and out of the house.

When Tara Ryan finally got the funeral organized to her satisfaction everyone agreed that it would be a good show. Madge came out of her bedroom holding the baby and listened to the intricate preparations. She nodded twice and then she returned to her bedroom. The children believed that they had done well for their mother was rather sparing with her approval. And in retrospect it seemed she had good reasons. Where as Kelly had been tolerant to a fault of his children’s misdemeanors, Madge Ryan had standards. Those standards had been systematically destroyed by each successive child.

Tara had refused to marry, under any circumstances, as had Eamon and Rosanna and Kelly Junior. Erin had decided that she really was partly destined for sainthood. She hung around, in a most unflattering way, with the various political factions of the Vatican in Rome. That is, when she was not working as a superb dominatrix in high society in London. Her mother had suspected something of this sort but only her father really knew what went on in her life.

The day of the funeral dawned brilliantly as funeral days do. The nine priests were all arrayed, the casket was solid oak, the children were well dressed and the mourners numbered many. Madge had reason for hope. She really should have known better. But she was deeply preoccupied with grief and her normal good sense has deserted her. She had quite forgotten that when the children all got together there was almost a dead certainty that outrageous things would happen. Funerals were no barrier to the Ryan predilection for shocking a captive audience. All of them had been involved in performance, even Rosanna, who was perhaps the most reasonable child the Ryan’s had produced.

The service began at ten and the guests began to arrive at nine and there were no floral tributes by order of Kelly himself who had ordained that in the event of death all proceeds should be donated to the pediatric ward at the local hospital. Consequently the beautiful coffin looked somewhat undressed covered with some wattle blossom, a couple of photographs, a TAB guide and a rather odd pair of sunglasses. Madge Ryan looked at the coffin of her husband and had a premonition that perhaps all would not go according to plan. Father Jim was looking positively anxious. In his passionate desire to win the contest to bury his old friend, he had forgotten the Ryan clans’ obsession with extreme behaviour at any public function. He looked at the other priests rather gloomily. The nuns were positively gleaming. Madge sat herself down with the baby in her arms and the children beside her. She was prepared for the inevitable public outrage. Father Jim began the predictable eulogy about Ryan Kelly’s life. So far all was going well. Madge’s brother gave another pleasant homily; he was charming and witty. He loved Ryan as only a brother in law could. Then of course it was time for the children to begin.

Tara Ryan knew how to rise to an occasion. She had experienced a lot of occasions in her life, all of them unusual. Dressed in somber black and unaware that her tattooed arms and her body piercings may have been inappropriate for the occasion, she took to the pulpit with élan. Madge was somewhat surprised at the sobriety of Tara’s speech. She supposed that her daughter was not prepared to co-opt her father’s funeral for her own purposes. The eulogy was quite powerful. And it failed to engage in any difficult political arguments. Ryan Kelly’s wife sighed. She looked at the coffin that held the body of her dearly beloved and thought perhaps they might get through. The baby cuddled into her, she wished once again that the lightning had struck somebody else. The audience were attentive, the service complete with every thing that Kelly would have desired, including a completely offensive country and western song, which was probably not in accord with the solemnity of the occasion. It all seemed to be going well. When Eamon got up to deliver his eulogy Madge sighed. If there was going to be trouble, it would be with him. But he surprised her, he said little of their long theological struggles and spoke of a father that he had loved and honored as a small child. He did decide to own paternity of his own baby and this caused quite a shock. The nuns stopped gleaming. It is possible that a funeral is the wrong place to produce DNA certificates to prove that paternity, and have them passed around the church, but in general the audience took it well. It was then time for Erin to perform. Madge conceded that she looked the part. It was fortuitous that Erin did not explore the eccentricities of her own sexuality at her father’s funeral as it was unclear how the priesthood would cope. Erin chose to stay on a familiar path. Even Father Jim was notable in his relief. The other old priests slept and hummed and snored. Ryan Junior took the stage next. He proceeded to belabour his audience about the virtues of Buddhism; and the reincarnational possibilities for his father. Some of this was detailed information and he elaborated about Kelly being reborn as a cockroach or a white moth. The combined catholic clergy resigned themselves to the inevitable spiritual competition.

The finale was left to Rosanna. Standing tall, true inheritor of the Irish genes with dark eyes and black hair, flawlessly articulate she launched into a long and passionate speech of the life of her father. It was at the conclusion of this speech that things became interesting. The music changed and an Egyptian melody began to echo from the church eaves. Rosanna began to undulate in a interesting manner all around her fathers coffin, he hair flung from side to side, she looked quite astonishing. Meanwhile Eamon had risen and placed four small candles on the coffin of his father. He began a long shamanic howl based on a Hopi Indian ritual and prowled the stage stamping and crying. Young family could be seen distributing what could only be seditious magazines to the assembled congregation. Tara rose, took to the stage and called upon the Great Goddess, Father Jim tried to take control but the noise level was truly horrific. Erin then moved into the center. She had prepared for this for quite some time using her small, very special flagellation whip she began to lash herself in the most outrageous manner. An old nun fainted. The assembled priests tittered and dithered and began to converse between themselves. Father Jim gave up. Madge sat back and watched, the baby giggled and laughed in her arms. Erin who had carefully concealed fake blood patches on her body began to look like something out of the crucifixion as the blood flowed freely. Old drunks in the audience thought seriously about repudiating the Devil. Ryan Junior began a monotonic Tibetan chant for the dead. If Kelly Ryan was watching he would have been vastly amused. He had encouraged his children to become free thinkers above all. Madge watched the proceedings with resignation, slightly impressed with the precision with which her children had organized this spectacle. She wished Father Jim would stop interjecting. He really didn’t understand the narrative of her children’s performance. The congregation began to moan and wail unsure of how they should react to such an event, unclear whether it was in Kelly’s honour or in some way disrespectful. It wasn’t until the bedraggled wattle caught fire on the lid of the coffin that Father Jim managed to restore order. The children gathered together bowed, waved to the audience and then returned to their seats.

Kelly Ryan’s funeral would be spoken about for years; the residents of Connamurra had never seen any thing like it and never would again. The jaded guests from the cities would dine out for months sometimes embellishing the details of the event. Old drunks and ex-prostitutes admitted to yearning for a similar type of farewell. But such things were hard to repeat. The Ryan children knew enough about theatre to ever attempt to repeat this spectacle.

By the time they got Ryan Kelly’s casket in the ground the service had taken over three hours. Most of the guests were emotionally drained and physically exhausted. Returning to the family home where the feast was laid and the candles lit conversation reached new heights of debate even in that very articulate household. The pros and cons of the event were discussed endlessly, the almighty was invoked to forgive; the devil was called on to be cast out of the children. Father Jim cracked the seal on his mate’s best bottle of whiskey. Fortunately there was plenty of drink and plenty of food at the wake and between the drink and the debate about the experience it wasn’t very long before fisticuffs broke out. Eamon proved his worth once again and settled most of these disputes with a brilliant right hand hook that he had learned from his father. Bodies were dragged out and left in the garden. The drunks were happy and the prostitutes met new clients. Shamans entered into vigorous debates with priests, and women began discussing the great Goddess. Tara was very pleased and Erin was surrounded by a veritable court full of men. They were, not surprisingly, impressed with her performance. Various arrangements were made. Rosanna sat calmly with her mother handing her tea occasionally and making sure she ate; the baby gurgled, happy and contented, as he chewed on a copy of his own DNA Certificate. Genteel ladies and nuns departed the wake early. Such people are very experienced in the calamities that can attend upon a good wake after an interesting funeral. The old priests drank whiskey and munched toothlessly away. Father Jim had taken to the drink with a vengance, he saluted his old mate time and time again exhorting all guests to help him lay the spirit of his friend to rest.

Madge sat in the front parlor busy with discussion about her dead husband with any number of strange creatures. Although she had known that Kelly had a lot of friends, some of who were quite unsavory, she was becoming interested in their life stories. She was unlikely to forgive her husband for preceding her to the Almighty and she was even less likely to take the Almighty on faith again. As the drink took hold various guests collapsed in sobbing heaps, others begin to laugh hysterically. Rosanna was called upon to perform her belly dancing and it wasn’t very long before full scale mayhem and chaos reigned. From long experience Madge knew the party would endure into the wee small hours of the morning. She was very tired and so was the baby. Making a careful but discreet exit she took once again to her bedroom. The party raged on around her but Madge Ryan slept like the dead.

The next day the house had to be cleaned from top to bottom, but this was normal operating procedure after a Ryan Kelly Party. It was about five days before Madge spoke to her children about the nature of events at the funeral. They all looked shocked when she suggested that it hadn’t been quite the thing. They all replied that they had discussed this event in great detail with her. Madge looked at each and every one of them. Although her children were unconventional she could never call them liars. It occurred to her that she hadn’t really been listening when they had been discussing their preparations, that she had indeed been occupied with baby Ryan. Its possible that she really didn’t want to know anything about either the funeral or Kelly’s death, she supposed she had only herself to blame.

The children decided that their mother should not be left too long in solitude. She may decide to pop off so Eamon returned home with his child and his partner. Ryan Junior began a practicing Buddhist retreat in the back garden shed. Erin decided that instead of being a dominatrix she might study medicine, and Tara completed her Phd and became a lecturer at a well known university. Of all the children Rosanna, who appeared to be the most reasonable, began a passionate crusade to save the homeless, the youths, the prostitutes, the shamans, the drunks, the eccentrics and all the other riff raff of life from a variety of ugly fates. She became a renowned lawyer and eventually a QC. Her father’s life never failed to influence her.

Madge Ryan lived on for another fifteen years. Her dying request was that she too would have an equally interesting funeral. However she refused to have either nuns or priest, with the exception of Father Jim at the service. It is a matter of public record in Coonamurra that Madge Ryan’s funeral was almost as good as her husbands. For as the children carried the casket out towards the waiting hearse, the skies thundered and lightning struck, missing the coffin by inches and sizzling the ground for a good three feet all around. It seemed possible that Madge was communicating with the Almighty again.

Kate McNamara