When all the others were away at mass

We were supposed to have followed them up the road. “Just fixing my hair. There in a minute. Swear.” Though none of us made it past the holy water fountain on the way in, we always made sure to find out who was saying it before sauntering towards one of the select secular gatherings on offer. I slid into the booth with the others where we feasted on one plate of chips split six ways. The heaped serving would occasionally be re-filled by way of compensation for a rogue hair conveniently appearing on the dregs of the rejected crispy ends that had been put through the fryer numerous times already. Coincidentally, a hair not unlike one of our own. (Age 12 – 14)


“I’ll just listen to mass on RTÉ Radio One instead, Mom. You go on, I’ll put on the spuds”

(From Ferris Bueller outtakes)

I swore blind I’d get mass in the evening so was charged with the most responsible job outside of keeping watch for the postman on exam results day – Putting On the Spuds™. There was no point in me hanging about the back of the chapel. I was fooling no-one. And they weren’t going to be made fools of by children who were getting big enough and ugly enough to not be taking a hand at their parents any more. So just lie there rather than make eejits of us, they ordered. And don’t forget to put on the spuds. (Age 14)

I just lay there and forgot to put on the spuds. (Age 17)

I just lay there wondering what day it was, willing myself to stay asleep until I couldn’t take it any longer and had to raid the kitchen for any sort of soft drink/pain-killer, before or after legging it to the bathroom. (Age 19 – 28)

I started to get The Fear over Monday. Often combined with/mistaken for the above (Age 28  – 35)

I roared at Marian Finucane’s guests on the radio; wondered if I could get away without getting dressed now that I was living with someone, and hoped he would use the bathroom first. (Then until now)

I slid into the booth wearing shades for numerous re-fills of coffee. I was fooling no-one. And I couldn’t take it any longer so they had to raid the kitchen for cookies for her. Then I had to get her home to the bathroom on time before all the juice she had would leg it down her leggings. (Currently)

6 thoughts on “When all the others were away at mass

  1. 15-17 Fr Tuohy said mass, oh it went on forever, (while I hung out with friends nowhere near) “Really? because he said the early mass so why was he saying the 12 o clock?” my mothers standard answer.
    18 to 22. Yes I went to mass, said defiantly eyeball to eyeball. A blatant lie as I drove up the Dublin mountains and walked…No reply from my mother.
    22 to date. “Get over it Mom, I don’t buy into any of it. Sorry but I’m not going to Mass”. “Where did I go wrong?” she says to no one in particular any Sunday I’m staying over.
    As always loved this!

    • All credit to Google for translating that little gem. Have you seen From Scotland with Love yet? I missed it at the film festival but it sounds thoroughly unmissable given my affection for your land and its inhabitants. When All the Others… was recently selected by the commoners here as the Poem for Ireland. A lovely tribute from Seamus Heaney to his Ma, but the title conjures up less poetic images for me, obviously. Has your nation chosen a poem for Scotland? One of Robbie Burns’ randy little ditties perhaps? 🙂

  2. Aye, my mother tongue can say so much more with a phrase than saying it in the Queen’s English 🙂 Hope you got a decent translation which gave more than the literal one! It’s about capturing arduous endeavour with no real hope of coming out well in the end – see, told you the mother tongue said it better!!! Don’t know if we’re pondering a national poem. If we are, it’s bound to have a bit of wounded pride in it!!!!!

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