Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tribute to an Old Friend - Paschal Mullaney

Tribute to an Old Friend

“Fear no more the heat of the sun, nor the furious winter’s rages
Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone and taken thy wages”
William Shakespeare

Following a protracted illness Paschal Mullany, a very special friend, passed away quietly and peacefully, the last of the proverbial bunch one could say. Our friendship touched on the seven ages of man as conceived by The Bard himself. His death brought to mind a poem close to my heart by Charles Lamb, ‘The Old Familiar Faces’, which I hope to quote later.

Paschal and his wife Moya ran a highly successful grocery and bar trade on Bridge Street, Boyle for three generations, a business where they gave loyal and dedicated service to their many customers. Moya’s endless hours behind the cash register will be long remembered notwithstanding the dedicated care she gave Paschal in his sickness and the unbearable crosses she carried nobly and quietly, and may I say with a deep faith.

Going back to Paschal’s younger athletic days, the man was a top rank tennis player of Connacht Cup status and had won many trophies along the way; the game of tennis was his tour-de-force. Inter-club matches were held regularly over the summer months and Paschal invariably was the Number One seed. Back in 1960, for a young guy to own his own car was quite rare. ‘DI 7604’ was used primarily for shop deliveries, but it had other purposes as well. ‘Ballrooms of Romance’ were sprouting up in towns and villages all around the west and come Sunday night, if one was lucky to have a car, the world became your oyster. Meticulously, Paschal would take note of the bands playing the dancehalls on the night; the best of the bunch was then chosen and a few of his ‘cronies’ were invited along in the bandwagon. The names Silver Slipper, Cloudland, Fairyland, Roseland all come to mind, not forgetting Tooreen Parish Hall (in the heart of the country) that was part of the fiefdom of the late great Canon Horan, the man who always seemed to have a smile on his face. Distance wasn’t ever a problem for Paschal; like a youthful Caesar, at the end of the night he would simply say ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’.

Another of his interests extended to the County and Provincial Fleadhs which invariably led to an All-Ireland Fleadh in some far-flung field. After the hype of the All-Ireland Fleadh in Boyle in 1960, the appetite had been whetted for more of the same; fast-forward Swinford, Clones and Mullingar. One of our most unforgettable expeditions was to the marble city of Kilkenny in 1960 for the 250th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the famous Smithwick’s Brewery. Many a post-mortem ran late in a smoke-filled lounge as we reminisced on that long day’s journey into night. We often wondered in hindsight if the same festival might have been the precursor of the great music festivals of today that are held annually around Ireland and the U.K.!

After his marriage to Moya (and what a day that was in the Hodson Bay Hotel), the family arrived and in the course of time the growing boys drew him more and more into football, handball, rugby, swimming and of course tennis. The Roscommon county team playing at home or away could never be missed. Lorna, the apple of his eye, was happy to hold the fort at home with Moya on a Sunday afternoon as the rest cheered the county to victory. Then followed the dark night of sickness that seemed to run forever; a mountain nigh impossible to climb. The last of the stages of man, age Number Seven, had arrived. Conversation was a struggle, concentration diminished, and memories were dimmed. The face I had known so well wasn’t there anymore.

My heartfelt sympathy is with Moya, Charles and Lorna today.

Christy Wynne

The Old Familiar Faces

I have had playmates, I have had companions,
In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days,
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have been laughing, I have been carousing,
Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies,
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

Ghost-like I paced round the haunts of my childhood,
Earth seem'd a desert I was bound to traverse,
Seeking to find the old familiar faces.

Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,
Why wert not thou born in my father's dwelling?
So might we talk of the old familiar faces –

How some they have died, and some they have left me,
And some are taken from me; all are departed –  
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

Apologies to Charles Lamb for a tiny spot of editing

1 comment:

  1. A fantastic ode to your late, great friend! I always remember many long conversations (serious and entertaining) with Paschal and was always impressed by his knowledge and wit. My condolences to Moya and family, the good times are always remembered and treasured. Take care.