For peat’s sake….

Let me first declare that I am neither a Muslim nor a Jew. I am a Celt, a bog-hopper. The hugely evolved largeness of my feet testify to this fact: In order to survive, my distant ancestors had to get by by not sinking into the bogs so prevalent in dear old Blarney.

My dear paternal grandparents both lived well into their nineties as subsistence crofters in the windswept wilds of County Mayo. Their lifestyle was very simple. It was fuelled by water from a distant well, homegrown potatoes and cabbage, and bacon from Porker the continuously renewed pig, butter and milk from Daisy the cow, and plenty of beer and whiskey for the long evenings and nights.

For entertainment and variety, apart from conversation with their near neighbours, they only possessed an old radio which was valve powered. It would take a while to warm up but would eventually bring in the news and sports commentary from Athlone and Dublin. They were unwittingly living the dream of modern people: complicity with simplicity.

Poor old Grand-dad lost his eyesight some twenty years before he died due to under-treated glaucoma. This didn’t depress him. It only inspired further his latent talent as an oral historian. He could recite with alacrity conversations he had had 60 years before, or such trivia as tram rides he had ridden in London. He would give anecdotes about many of many people he had met along the way. He had earned his lucre as a travelling builder’s labourer, the better to support his burgeoning family, you see.

As usual, I have digressed from the subject at hand. Sorry about that.Look, before I proceed I must digress a little further.

[This article is beginning to read like a Ronnie Corbett anecdote – Ed].

My grandfather’s hard labour was very welcome, but his person was not. He wandered around countless streets looking for accommodation where most of the the boarding houses exhibited signs in their windows saying things like “No Dogs, No Darkies, No Irish”! British multiculturalism was hard at work there, some might say. Despite these difficulties, he charmed his way through work until he could retire back to home.

My father was born and raised there in cold and windy Mayo, where the only warmth came from a turf-fuelled hearth. One of the activities of daily living was to go out to the bog and cut some fresh peat from the bog and then stack it up to dry out. The local greeting “How’s she cutting?” comes from that. The dense brown loaves of fermented organic matter produce a great slow and steady heat in the fireplace, and release a uniquely fragrant incense, not unfamiliar to drinkers of Laphroaig whisky. The big open fireplace in that cottage provided all the central heating needed for survival, and meals were cooked over it too. All family life focused around that glowing pyre. Even the ash proved useful as a fertiliser for the vegetable garden.

When most of one’s life is consumed with mere survival, religious practise comes as an uplifting relief, and so it was there. The nearest church was only a mile away and the whole family would walk there and back without complaint every Sunday and Holy-day. The parents gained strength from these devotions, and their children witnessed this strengthening and learned to desire it for themselves, even if their poor education provided poor means for the understanding of it.

From that fireside my father eventually matured and adventured forth into the wider world. In those days, Ireland was what would be termed at this time a third world nation: no running water, no electricity, material poverty in abundance. It was the unwritten duty of every youngster, male or female, to go out into the wider world and earn enough money to both survive themselves and also send some home for their parents’ comfort. This is how the world worked before the welfare state messed everything up……


That’s enough for now. Part two is coming.  In the meantime, I am sure all of you are asking: Why is this article titled “Pro-semitism”?

The simple explanation is that throughout my life I have met many “semites”: people from the Middle-East (Muslims, Jews and Christians). They have all impressed me by their passionate devotion to home and family and righteousness in the affairs of life. I believe it is a natural and good thing to want to associate and bond with those who share your values.

[Here’s the punchline:]

Family values are scant here where I live and breath, in the UK. Divorce and illegitimacy are rampant. Society is bordering on collapse as a result.

God help us!



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