|Sadhbh Ní Bhruinneallaigh
Author: Salvatore Paradise PM
A convergence of the twain; the past and the present of Ireland in a chance rendezvous in Dublin's St Stephen's Green. The question-and-answer section is bollocks, yet pivotal towards my theme. Kindly commentate on its' effectiveness.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama - Words: 4,764 - Reviews: 3 - Published: 02-03-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2888291
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Sadhbh Ní Bhruinneallaigh
Honours additional attributed to Gonzaga College Co. Dublin
'Semper et ubique fidelis'
—and it was a perversion; least that's what he liked to call it. 'A right scoured-over speck of land knowing nothing worth knowing, uprooting the dignity of a modern world by a damned stubborn adherence to tradition.' That's mostly what he said of it, but he said it enough times. He lectured at Trinity over history and none of the students liked him, I remember that from my Dad. They were none of them sad to see him go, and neither were we, from what I can remember, though I always suspected that maybe I felt more than they did once he was gone. He liked me best, after all. I say this all egotism aside too, because one could hardly brag about being the favoured of such a man. I still can't recollect for the life of me why he ever forced himself into Dublin anyways; God and Mary both know that nobody, including himself, wanted him there.
Jocelyn resumed a customary stoic poise that was so elegantly depicted by the bust of Miss Constance Markievicz, which stood forlornly by the wrought-iron gate behind her. It wore a crown of newly fallen snow that drifted from the overhanging canopy of maples and elms that had discarded their ruddy leaves for icicles and prickly bluish-white branches.
—And you're Dublin-born, of course. A Trinity College man, maybe?
, said the fiddler.
—Well I certainly had you gauged wrong then. Surely, thought I, with your wonderful playing you had to have learned from some Erin-bred master? And I must say as well that I fed a half-hope that you might have recalled my grandfather in all his brash bombastic Britishness should you have attended the aforementioned university.
—Dublin-born. Never gone to Trinity, or any school for that liking. Learndd from me own grandfather
, said the fiddler.
—Ah, and of course; you mentioned his Stradivarius. Quite an inheritance. A practicality, a means, a life, a get-by, a love. More than most can hope to get from final will and testament and beyond the creative capacity of an even greater citizenry to think up.
The Stradivarius had been purchased in the year 1922. It had fostered a family of soon-accomplished players and had formed the cornerstone of his grandfather's eclectic and beloved possessions. These included, in addition to the violin, a narrow lamp of sentimental value that emitted a weak amber light, primed for reading, as well as the first edition copies of An tOileánach, Cré na Cille, and FicheBliain ag Fás by the writers Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, respectfully. These had soon found a home in the parsimoniously adorned room of the fiddler in Marlborough Apartments, which was rented for just ninety-eight quid a month.
—The get-by is small
, said the fiddler.
—And I guessed as much already, though I thought it improper to say anything because I've been taught that it's rude. Course one man's business is everyman's business, and there's no secrets about that. And the Saints forbid if you possess a British immigrant's flair of the tongue to rattle off about some man's keep when in fact that keep will flip more tongues than you and I are physically capable of. You understand what I'm saying, maybe? No? You are quite silent so I'll assume it's a no. I've always been told I talk a bit too fast with less-than-discernible clarity for the majority of my conversations. Something I have never been able to fix, I found too. But in typical fashion I'll shirk the blame and attribute it to my own inheritance. That's all he left me, mind you. You can draw Drowsie Maggie and Finnegan's Wake with a couple horse hairs and a bit of spruce and I can condescend with the deftness and flair of any swift-talking Manchester man. And yet, Ireland agrees that my words are worth your fiddle's weight in guineas any day of the week. I believe the literary world calls that 'irony'. But oh, nevermind the bollocks of this pitiful life, right and right?
She laughed pleasantly.
—You're a Dubliner
, said the fiddler.
—Dubliner, yes. More a Brit than a Molly though; for lack of eloquence, a sort of spitfire bastard baby of the both of them. I say this by no means to be prideful, God and Mary no. Only as a fair warning.
, said the fiddler.
—Warning. I've been in every pub from Galway River Inn to the Dublin Duke and heard enough Poldys and Paddys croaking Óró Sé do Bheatha 'Bhaile or Jimmy Mo Mhíle Stór to have a firm feel of how those gallant old geezers look at an Irish girl or think a girl looks at them. You see, the notion is that we're the sought-after and praiseworthy dames of Old Erin who, once had, serve the 'pohtahtohs in bed with a couple o'eggs' tamed and innocuous as Grandmother Dante's baby tuckoo. Oh, the songs are lovely, don't have me false. But I'm not Erin's Pair of Brown Eyes, and you wouldn't have to go trampin' across the Emerald Isle to look for me. Irish lasses are possessed of a bit more resourcefulness than you Paddys give us credit for; you'd have found us long before the song was over, and with my kind of tongue, there's not even a guarantee that the song would still be yours by the end. You're the songster after all, and that's why it's a warning.
—And you have green eyes, not brown. And I am a performer, not a songster
, said the fiddler.
—That sir, is petty and false. You play and you sing, and those professions fit the 'songster'. Now for the falsity; 'performers' is a fallacy under its implication of repetition and I cannot stand hearing the word, particularly from artists. Pure repetition is a fantasy as realistically, nothing is ever 'performed' the same way. Regardless of the premier, every piece has been heard or seen once before, through one medium or another. Thus, what we dub 'performance' is an unconscious and unintended creation that is merited such menial terminology out of modesty to our vengeful Creator.
—Very well. Creator I am.
, said the fiddler.
She smiled and concealed her hands in a lime green peacoat that gripped her slender body.
—And at last, we have accrued a bit of immodesty, and after only so many minutes spent monologuing in the snow! I consider it necessary that I had to do my part to inspire the ego of one so talented, but drat it all that we had to skip the pleasantries!
She extended a hand.
—Even so, Jocelyn, should you permit me. Just Jocelyn. And it will be only for a short while longer I can promise; until my bus comes on Grafton Street.
The fiddler took hesitated before taking her hand. The posthumous introduction, after so many minutes spent in this strange conversation beneath the snows, was a superfluity, and as such he felt awkward in what he very well felt to be a second introduction.
—And of course, your name would have to be "Bard" or "Master" or "Erin" because they all of them suit you so perfectly. No, I do not wish to hear that inevitably unbefitting Christian name given you during helpless infancy. I find it simply barbaric that we autograph our poor, puerile, crib-ridden darlings without a moment's hesitation. Oh I see practicality's side of the argument right well and clear, and I'll make no quarrel with the good lad. It's the lifelongsubjugation to an unchosen epithet that I cannot stand. It should be a practice that we choose our titles because our choice would force us to, God and Mary forbid, do a bit of self-introspection for a fitting determination. Now as for yours gracious truly, she knows herself and she chose Jocelyn because Jocelyn is befitting in every sense of befitting, and she can take pride in her choice, too. Now kindly ask my good Bard; what is a Jocelyn?
—What is a Jocelyn
, said the fiddler.
—Well it's very simple really. It starts, like so many tales worth forgetting, with a princess. And we shall leave it there for the time being. Let 'Jocelyn' fester in plush throw pillows, in pouffy-shouldered chiffon and crinoline frocks, in ringlets done up with golden threads and diamond-studded bows. 'Jocelyn' has that appeasing fairness to it. That palatal, delicate 'J' that threads it's way neatly through a dactyl of unthreatening consonants that sound best when said in a whisper. Oh yes, my dear Bard, there is a bit of, well, draconic romance in this particular Jocelyn. Perhaps not the kind you'd immediately attribute the flowers and gown to, but there is a bit of princess nonetheless. Too much introspection maybe, but you haven't heard the half of it. You see I've given this more than a passing fancy. I can trace my decision from princess to Germanic warrior to any bonnie lass to your Belle of Belfast-City strictly through phonoaesthetics. That I attribute to being a writer. Have I mentioned that I'm a writer yet?
, said the fiddler.
—Hmm, well you know now. A tad late in coming I'll admit, and my deepest apologies for being so, dear Bard. I am a bit talkative, if you haven't noticed, and I tend to forget what's important and what is not.
After having stood nearly still for the entirety of their conversation, Jocelyn fidgeted, and brushed away the accrued snow from her hair. She consulted a wristwatch.
, said the fiddler.
—We're unfortunately close.
For a moment, she was silent. Her eyes, two polished emeralds frayed in gold filigree, looked into him, and the fiddler immobilized her. She had auburn hair, was built delicately yet sturdily, and showered herself with beauty in each smile that passed over her lips, which withheld a gleam of pale rosiness that matched her cheeks. It had been the first opportunity the fiddler had to truly see her, strictly speaking, to see her in terms of beauty. Her allure, bereft of voice, was captivating. The silence passed too quickly and the fiddler found himself, seemingly, thrown back into the present.
—And I suppose this necessitates an awkward leave-taking. Drat it all! and I was quite enjoying our little one-sided banter. A bit of apology for all that talk about yours truly, but she can't quite seem to let herself go. Bit of a fatal flaw; an image of Narcissus and the like. I wouldn't say that it's that kind of self-obsession, though, would you? No. Kindly forget all of that, whatever it was I've gotten myself caught up on. It's utterly without point. Oh! but I do have one now that I just suddenly remembered. Right and right, but let's try and thaw for a minute, before I make it. My hands have gone positively motionless and I'm sure you're thoroughly frozen.
He was in fact, uncomfortably numb. His ungloved hands had remained motionless as he braced the Stradivarius for the duration of their discourse, and now they quivered steadily. They moved to a nearby gazebo where two boys had stopped to admire the frozen park. Unheeding, the fiddler mounted his opened case on a table and began to blow into his hands while Jocelyn dusted herself.
—Now if you'll be kind, I've been stricken with a bit of forgetfulness. Can you recall what you played before, must be about a half hour ago?
—The Countess Cathleen
, said the fiddler.
—Of course. And how appropriate for that eponymous heroine to be the Muse of two Emerald Isle artists. Don't mind the digression. Rather a pointless admittance, but maybe I'm compensating because I didn't recognize it. Now for a bit of recommendation, if it wouldn't be more than a bit of trouble?
—None at all
, said the fiddler.
—You're a Port-à-beul man; you have the look. My grandfather was the same way although he hated the rest of the country, and he had a way of singing Shadhbh Ní Bhruinneallaigh that you could swear the Saints were straining to hear. Oh he didn't much care for the language in the practical sense, but in terms of artistic value he said there are few others that achieve so much. Maybe that's a product of being a sort of historical man; he was a bit caught up in all the old languages; Hebrew and Latin and Gaelic. Although I don't think many understood his reasoning about the Irish songs; and you can imagine how few saw him eye-to-eye opinion-wise, after he'd argue his peace about the country he hates but lives in then argues against a language that he loves. Didn't make sense to us, not even now. As far as the tune is concerned, oh it's a gorgeous lick, but it's of no real interest to me. Call it a familial duty. I think the term is apt enough.
The fiddler nodded with understanding though he said nothing, and devoted full attention to his carefully chosen plucks of the G, D, A, and E strings. They were all flat. He tightened the knobs and delicately slid the quavering bow across the strings, forming scales in duple meter, one-handed until he had achieved pitch.
Very rousingly, the fiddler struck his note and acknowledged her without utterance, and began in a beautiful tenor that rousing chorus that had so often been sung, from the Galway River Inn to the Dublin Duke by gallant old geezers pining for loves that seldom existed. It was this verse they sang in eager voices six times with alteration:
—Ní iarrfain de spré le Sadhbh Ní Bhruinneallaigh/ Ach baile Inis Gé is cead éaló ar choiníní/ Óró, a Shadhbh, a Shadhbh Ní Bhruinneallaigh,/ Comhairle do mháithrín, éalaigh is imigh liom!
Now the two boys who were stationed in a corner of the gazebo were at once attracted to the strange, foreign music of the fiddle. It was quite appropriate for them to be stunned by this sound they had never before been acquainted with in such intimacy, for they were of the ages when the world is brightest and most filled with wonder, and their large eyes were testament to this fact. Eyes in children are meant to store the splendours of the universe, and these eyes were no exception.
However, there was in the youngest boy, the slightest narrowing of his pupils and droop of the brow, as if he were wary of the world. Wary, but not fearful. This is a trait that befits those who possess the talent of scrutinization at an early age; a physical trait garnered from too much reading and too much observation. As wide eyes open to accept the world, narrow eyes gap to seal the world in and filter out its secrets. What results is a perverse young man whose conversation is limited and rich, and who is possessed by a permanent fascination with the esoteric world he has yet to, and never will, discern.
As the song concluded, the elder of the two lads, with his partner in tow, approached Jocelyn. She bowed as they greeted her.
—And a brilliant afternoon to you two gentlemen as well. Lovely weather, yes?
—Might I ask what two spirited lads such as yourselves are doing in St Stephen's so early on such a beautiful Wednesday morning?
The fiddler recognized Jocelyn's ability of instant camaraderie with the two lads, and said nothing.
—We're playing hooky, said the elder of the pair quite normally, and then added: an' we'd appreciate it, ma'am, if we were addressed by our names 'cause we're none too sharp of 'lads'.
—Oh? well what names do you go by, gentlemen, and if you don't mind me asking, where is it you are playing hooky from? And excuse me, kindly, for any insult I might have paid you.
—'Pology 'cepted, said the boy, an' I'm Marius and this is Courfeyrac. We're revolutionaries an' we're heroes an' we're playing hooky from Monkstown Park Primary, ma'am, but we come from Donnybrook.
—Very well! Revolutionaries and heroes from Monkstown Park Primary! But Mr Marius and Mr Courfeyrac, you're missing the rest of your ABC's! And I should warn you, to be fair, there's little uprising to be dealt with in St Stephen's Green this time of the day.
—But we don't need the ABC's for revolution 'cause Courfeyrac is worth his weight any day of the week an' I at least double him! An' we're going to Dublin Castle next 'cause thats where Courfeyrac said the revolution's at.
Courfeyrac, silent and immobile, regarded his companion with pensive silence, yet his narrow-eyed attention was focused on the fiddler who loitered with the Stradivarius in the corner.
—Oh a fair choice for revolution indeed! Mr Courfeyrac sounds quite the mastermind! Although I do not believe that there was not a single revolution that two intelligent messieurs could not find in Monkstown Park Primary.
—We're revolutioning 'gainst Monkstown Park, ma'am. They got on to Courfeyrac 'bout reading in class an' they took his book. When he didn't say anything 'bout it they just kept it and the next day he tells me we're revolutioning an' meeting at Dublin Castle 'cause the good revolutions are always in castles.
Here Marius paused to let Courefeyrac offer any details. Courfeyrac was by now within easy arm's reach from the fiddle, and he had begun a process of examination merely inches from the instrument, under the curious stare of the fiddler. Neither spoke, yet communication was evident.
—Anyways, I said to Courfeyrac that we could try Pigeon House, like those other kids, an' he says no 'cause all that's at Pigeon House is useless stuff an' machines an' stuff that wouldn't help with a revolution. So he says to go to Dublin Castle if we want to hold out, an' that's what we're doing.
Courfeyrac's attention had finally caught Marius, and the young man abandoned Jocelyn to analyze the fiddle. Neither of the boys spoke. The silent bond that had existed between Courfeyrac and the fiddler was now translated to Marius, and in hallowed understanding, he dared not utter a word. Slowly and with deliberation, the fiddler drew the instrument to the crook of his neck, and the bow began to slide effortlessly across the taut strings.
What he played was something none of them had ever heard before. It was no reel or jig or Port-à-beul, but rather something mellow that drifted like the idling snows and vibrated like the chills the Dublin winds sent ricocheting through them. It was somber, although it could not be called sad. It was unnamed passion and unattributed emotion, a mesh conjuring the rolling expanse of Erin's fields and cairns in sunset-russet glory. Relic was the only true way to describe it, and yet, there was nothing antiquated about the music that one could pinpoint. It was haunting beauty; beauty that made one forget; beauty that inspired; beauty that beckoned and beckoned, like hunger and air.
Only Courefeyrac was noticeably physically unmoved as the song quavered to a standstill. Jocelyn swallowed her air like the blood of Christ, and her eyes were aflame. Marius stared dumbly with mouth agape. When at last someone could speak, it was Jocelyn.
—An honour, my dear Bard. An honour beyond extraordinary. Your gift is a miracle, in every sense of the word.
She bowed her head to him and saluted Marius and Courfeyrac. And as abruptly as she had come, she had whisked herself from the gate nearest the bust of the leering Constance Markievicz, and had disappeared into the snow. The dumbed boys pursued in a daze. Then the fiddler was alone with his silence.
What did the man known as the 'fiddler' do following such abruptly given silence?
The man known as the 'fiddler' confided himself to his thoughts, because he no longer possessed the power to lift the fiddle or to speak, and was questioning his ability to breathe. By the profundity of his own gift, he had struck even himself dead. For the first time in his life, he felt the very weight of his gift weighing on him like the world which he could not shirk.
What had caused such a sudden and total collapse of function?
The most commonly accepted word is 'epiphany', provoked by extreme emotional catharsis, yet there are those who would believe it barbaric to confine such a moment to such a menial word. Thus, what the man known as the 'fiddler' felt was more aptly termed a 'divine touch'. There was little other explanation that involved such gravity in the situation, and so the fiddler had made due with this, partially too because he himself preferred entirely a hand-of-God theory, as little other explanation to him seemed valid.
What event caused the invalidation of any but divine explanation for the man known as the 'fiddler'?
The young man known as 'Courfeyrac' was a reincarnation of the man known as the 'fiddler', who was in fact, never living and has never lived, existing solely in the realm of memory.
What features of the young man known as 'Courfeyrac' are evidence of a reincarnation?
The young man known as 'Courfeyrac' possessed filtering eyes, silence, a distinct manner of self-expression, self-confidence, and indeed, physical appearance that represented those respective attributes o the man known as the 'fiddler'. These traits had led the man known as the 'fiddler' to the belief of his lack of existence, and upon the conclusion of his piece, had secured it and belied mere coincidence.
What events exhibited through the characters known as the 'fiddler', 'Jocelyn', 'Courfeyrac', and 'Marius' are testament to the fact of the man known as 'the fiddler's' lack of existence?
The man known as the 'fiddler' lacks the ability of conversing in the manner that the woman known as 'Jocelyn' converses; his language is constrained to solely the answers of those questions presented him. The young men known as 'Courfeyrac' and 'Marius' feel unspoken connection to the man known as the 'fiddler' that is akin to the connection one feels to past events though there is no direct correlation between the two. The connection lacks tangibility because there are no tangible demonstrations of its origins, as it is made through the device of memory.
What evidence had been so irrefutable that none other than this explanation could suffice?
The conclusion of the song that was known as Iona, which provoked understandably emotional responses from the woman known as 'Jocelyn' and the young man known as 'Marius', drew nothing physical from the young man known as 'Courfeyrac'. Iona was a summation of skill and emotion set to instrumentation. The young man known as 'Courfeyrac' could not be physically affected because he had observed the falsity of the fiddler through his aforementioned gift of scrutiny.
What kind of playing designates such falsity?
Insincerity and feigned emotion. The man known as the 'fiddler' was learned in the exploitation of emotion, and as such he himself did not feel what he played as other did. Iona conjured a vision of Erin that the fiddler did not see.
Did the man known as the 'fiddler' consider no other explanation of the coincidence between himself and the young man known as 'Courfeyrac', aside from reincarnation?
The man known as the 'fiddler' did consider another explanation.
What was this other explanation?
He fancied that the young man known as 'Courfeyrac' was his progeny.
This offspring would be derived from the culmination of the intimacy between which two parties?
The man known as the 'fiddler' and the woman known as 'Jocelyn'.
Would the young man known as 'Courfeyrac' be the sole progeny of the man known as the 'fiddler' and the second party, known as the woman 'Jocelyn'?
What other progeny would the man known as the 'fiddler' and the second party known as the woman 'Jocelyn' bear as a product of their intimacy?
The child known as 'Marius'.
What caused the man known as the 'fiddler' to fancy a physically intimate bond between the woman known as 'Jocelyn' to the point that progeny were birthed?
The woman known as 'Jocelyn' was for him, Ireland epitomized. She was beautiful and passionate, and did not shirk from her opinions, and she was concerned with matters of the self although she did not become self-obsessive but rather, self-expressive. She understood duty towards one's heritage and she complied to pay appropriate dues towards the aforesaid heritage ungrudgingly and honourably. These characteristics were admired greatly by the man known as the 'fiddler'.
What did the man known as the 'fiddler' know of the 'duty' that was partaken in by the woman known as 'Jocelyn' during the course of their rendezvous?
The man known as the 'fiddler' carried a 1922 Stradivarius that belonged to his great-grandfather out of a sense of duty and familial uprightness. He became a master of the aforesaid instrument as a duty to his family tradition.
What other factors, aside from duty, contributed to the man known as the 'fiddler's' playing of his great-grandfather's 1922 Stradivarius?
What other factors, aside from duty and income, contributed to the playing of the 1922 Stradivarius?
There were none. The feeling known as 'love' of both music and the creation of it was nonexistent in the decision of the playing of the 1922 Stradivarius.
What were the feelings held by the man known as the 'fiddler' towards the 1922 Stradivarius and towards the duty he felt he owed to the instrument's prior owners?
The feelings were thus: abhorrence, antipathy, constraint, dependency, loathing, and loyalty.
Could the feeling known as 'love' be an existent force between the man known as the 'fiddler' and the woman known as 'Jocelyn'?
Could this force known as 'love' be the product of the parties' abilities of understanding the juxtaposition between hatred and loyalty, and duty and independency?
Could the child known as 'Courfeyrac' thus be the spawn of these two shared sets of beliefs, rather than the reincarnation of the singular set of beliefs held by the man known as the 'fiddler'?
Is the man known as the 'fiddler' aware of the similarities derived from the beliefs of the woman known as 'Jocelyn' of literal self-entitlement, and the self-chosen names of the two young men known, respectfully, as 'Marius' and 'Courfeyrac'?
. . .
Is the man known as the 'fiddler' aware of his subconsciously derived consensus that the woman known as 'Jocelyn' is a representation of modern Ireland, juxtaposing his own representation of past Ireland?
. . .
Is the man known as the 'fiddler' aware that his own infatuation with the woman known as 'Jocelyn' is derived from his subconscious representation of himself and herself as past and present Ireland, respectfully?
. . .
Is the man known as the 'fiddler' aware that his progeny: the youths known as 'Marius' and 'Courfeyrac' are similarly represented, and are thereby more befitting to be borne from the woman known as 'Jocelyn' rather than reincarnated simply through a singular party?
. . .
Is the man known as the 'fiddler' currently engaged in the study of his discourse with the woman known as 'Jocelyn'?
What activity is being currently undertaken by the man known as the 'fiddler' that does not include further examination of his past discourse with the woman known as 'Jocelyn'?
He is performing his duty.
Could the performance of this duty be product of, as the woman known as 'Jocelyn' stated: "a damned stubborn adherence to tradition"
. . .