A Wolf By The Ears
(A One Act Play)
By Mattie Lennon
SERGEANT MARTY OíLEARY : A man in his late thirties.
When the play opens OíLeary looks slightly dishevelled
with shirt open and tie loosened. He seems confident when talking to his
friend on the phone but for the reminder of the time he appears to be unsure
GARDA BILL KILGANNON :A man in his mid forties.
He looks clumsy, moves slowly and has an agricultural
appearance about him. He wears the heavy Garda overcoat and cap at all
times and mostly keeps his hands in his pockets. He tends to lean against
something whenever possible.
GARDA PADDY BLACK : A man in his late thirties.
He is dressed fairly tidy and is wearing well-worn shoes
and a very old watch. He shows signs of parsimony when parting with coins
and on more than one occasion he rummages in his pockets, finds a very
short cigarette butt, which he lights from the fire with a paper spill.
GARDA LIAM ASHE: A man in his early thirties.
He is impeccably turned out : his uniform trousers pressed
like razor blades and his shoes shining. He wears a signet ring, tie-pin,
cuff-links and a fashionable watch.
He has a habit of filing his nails, replacing the nail
file in his tunic pocket only to retrieve it a few seconds later. At every
opportunity he looks in the mirror, combs his hair or straightens his tie.
He also admires his reflection in the window.
MILEY LANNIGAN : A man in his mid twenties.
He is dressed in farmers working clothes with turned
down Wellingtons. His boots, trousers and jacket show traces of bovine
excrement and judging by the expressions on the faces of the Gardai his
clothes are offensive to the olfactory sense. He is unshaven.
(ALL DIRECTIONS ARE GIVEN FROM THE AUDIENCEíS VIEWPOINT)
The action takes place in the dayroom of a small Garda
Station in a village in West Wicklow. The time is the late sixties.
There is a fireplace in the back wall, left of centre.
To the right of centre is a door leading to the living quarters. On this
door is a badly handwritten notice, PRIVATE .
In the right hand wall there is a window and a door leading
to the street.
Near the front in the L/H wall is a door leading to a
A baton and Garda raincoat hang on a Peg-board on the
L/H wall and beside it an old advertising mirror.
Notices on the wall include an advertisement for a Garda
Benefit Concert, a sign about the licensing of firearms and another giving
a list of penalties under the Noxious Weeds Act 1910.
There is a desk in front of the fire and a metal filing
cabinet stands in the back R/H corner. Thereís a Garda cap on top of the
When the play opens a clock on the mantelpiece is showing
five minutes to five and a desk calendar proclaims it to be Tuesday, November
(Sergeant is sitting at desk)
SERGEANT : (Leaving down Sporting Press and making
phone call) Hoya Mick.....Marty here.....I see you have Slaheny Squire
running in the fourth race at Newbridge tonight.......is he in with a chance
or is he........?
No. I'm on my own here.......right so......Ashe, The Male
Mannequin, is due in any minute.....of course all he wants is the station
to himself so that he can ring the quare one in France. What?......Oh I
think he wields his baton a bit nearer home as well.
I sent the other two gobshites out to bring in the Poet
Lannigan........Oh he done nothing.....He was in the wrong place at the
wrong time....or the right place at the right time for us. Remember when
Des Collins's rick o' hay was burned six weeks ago?......Oh it was an accident
: John Bryan was in it with the Cassidy one and one of them dropped a cigarette
butt.....it wasn't all they dropped says you..... But I can't let that
out. The Bryans look after me....Oh I might be a Kerryman but I know which
side it's buttered on alright.
An' you know what Des Collins is like ....but he's "good
to us", so I have to be seen to do something..Oh he is.Oh Des has the connections
all right.through his missus. Oh itís better to have him on your side sure
Anyhow I discovered that the Poet was out the night it
was burned... Oh I didn't make the boys any the wiser....I told them he
Oh, we'll get something out of him anyway.....that's right...it'll
give him something to write about......it's about time someone took that
lad down a peg, him an' his songwriting an' his rhyming...... Right, I'll
see you in Newbridge tonight....the dog is......
Enter Garda Liam Ashe
ASHE: ' evening Skipper. Sergeant.
SERGEANT : ( looking at the clock) Hello Liam.
ASHE : No. The Nailer Dunne was telling me that our friend
The Boxer is driving around without any insurance. Weíll keep an eye on
him. Where Ďs everybody?
SERGEANT: I sent them out to get Miley Lannigan you know
the poet fella.. he burned Des Collinsís rick.
ASHE:Des Collinsís rick? Thatís an unusual pastime for
a literary person. Eliot wrote of the burnt out ends of smokey days but
he didnít say anything about setting fire to hay. And Des Collins of all
SERGEANT: Aye, well you know what to do when he comes
ASHE: Yes Sergeant but that Miley Lannigan is a dangerous
bastard. Heís a bit too handy with the pen for my liking. Heíd write to
the papers or report us to the Minister or anything.
SERGEANT: If he hasnít an alibi for the night of Saturday
27th September he can write to who he likes.
ASHE: OK, when he comes in weíll use the usual tricks..
(Enter Gardai Bill Kilgannon and Paddy Black pushing
Miley Lannigan a man in his mid twenties ahead of them)
ASHE : Well?
BLACK :(Hanging his cap on a nail, in R/H wall, between
the window and door ) He didnít tell us anything yet.
ASHE: He will (to Lannigan) Well Miley, what have you
to say for yourself?
LANNIGAN: I believe Iím supposed to have burned a rick
ASHE: Thereís no supposing about it, we know you were
out that night.
LANNIGAN: I was out. I got a lift home with the Doctor,.another
man and myself.
KILGANNON: We know to the differ.
ASHE: Who was the other man that was.
SERGEANT: It doesnít matter who he was. We know this lad
burned the hay.
ASHE: Would it surprise you if I told you that you were
seen lighting it?
LANNIGAN : nothing you tell me would surprise me. I know
your pedigree and if you were a greyhound pup I wouldnít buy you. A man
canít be seen where heís not. I didnít burn any hay.
KILGANNON : We know to the differ.
LANNIGAN : (RAISING HIS VOICE) I didnít commit any crime
and you know it.
SERGEANT : Keep your voice down. I have enough evidence
here to charge you.
ASHE: Will I put this man in the cell, Sergeant?
BLACK : Youíll get out when you decide to tell the truth.
(The Sergeant nods his head and Ashe-careful not to
soil his uniform with farm waste - ushers Lannigan into the cell, As Lannigan
is being pushed into the cell he sings (to the air of The Ould Alarm Clock
It happened up in Largabeg
In November sixty nine
I was makiní rhymes aní feeding pigs
The day was far from fine.
The Gardai got contrary
Lanniganís voice fades off. Ash bolts the cell door
with a flourish.
SERGEANT : Right lads, you know the drill. I have to collate
the census returns from Lugnagower. Iíll do it in the kitchen aní have
a cup of tea. (He takes folder from filing cabinet and exits rear).
ASHE: (To Kilgannon, grinning and nudging Black)
Will you see what you can get out of the Poet, Bill? (Kilgannon exits left
ASHE: If the Poet starts about John Keates to Bill Kilgannon
heíll think heís talking about a cattle-jobber from Ballymote.
BLACK: He mightnít be a match for the Poet sure enough.
ASH : He wouldnít be a match for anything. Itís a struggle
for him to read the Sligo Champion. But heís been out to get the Poet for
quite a while. He said that the Poet was lazy, in the wrong company, and
Lannigan heard it back and had something to say about it. Yeats described
Irish Landlords as being: lazy, trifling, inattentive, negligent, slobbering
and profligate . I suppose Kilgannon would have attributed these qualities
to Lannigan if he could get his tongue around them. To hear an alternatively
motivated individual like Bill calling anybody lazy is a joke.
BLACK: I know. I was in the squad-car with him one night,
months ago, and we met the Poet behind at Roryís Brook, and him walking
Bill stopped and accused him of making faces at us and
anything else he could think of. He tried every trick he knew to provoke
the Poet into saying or doing something that would land him in trouble.
ASHE: Seemingly the townland that Kilgannon comes from
has nothing to recommend it only a legend about a graveyard thatís supposed
to have re-located itself one night. Itís a sort of a hamlet where everybody
is related if you understand what I mean...."if she's not good enough for
her brothers she's not good enough for me" sort of country. It just shows
you the sort of place it is when even the dead donít want to stay in it.
But I suppose anywhere that would produce the likes of BillAnyway, the
Poet juxtaposed those two pieces of information into some sort of doggerel
or a ditty and our colleague was less than enamoured of it. So heíll do
his best to pin him now. You could say it was Lanniganís own fault: Patrick
Kavanagh said: anybody who writes poetry that a policeman can understand
deserves anything they get .
BLACK: Bill must have understood whatever he wrote anyway.
ASHE : (fake innocent as he notices a speck on his
uniform and reaches for a clothes-brush) Do you think he did it?
BLACK: I donít know. Heís a know-all and could do with
a bit of a come-uppance but Iím here since 1955 and the Poet hasnít done
anything like this before.
ASH: Thereís always a first time and according to the
Skipper this is it for Miley Lannnigan.
BLACK: Maybe he didnít do it.
ASH: (Thoughtfully) Maybe not, but in the words
of your most famous Kerry playwright: Some men were born to take raps or
to be made into scapegoats.
BLACK: J.B.Keane said that?
ASHE: Yes. It was John B. but a more appropriate quote
of his comes to mind right now. In The Farmerís Boy he said : There are
instances when your farmerís boy was not above setting fire to a haystack
rather than take his grievances into court .
BLACK: We donít know of any grievances that the Poet has
against Des Collins.
ASHE: No, but he would look on Des as being as thick as
bottled pig-shite and as John Lydgate said : Comparisons do oft get grievance
Black: Talking about farmerís boys, what keeps Miley Lannigan
there on a few acres of bad mountainy land? Old Master Kellegher in Largabeg
school told me that Lannigan was one of the brightest lads he ever taught.
He didnít do much with it.
ASHE: Ah, heís an only child. His father is old and his
mother is an invalid and I suppose he doesnít like to leave them.
BLACK : Having him hauled in here wonít do his poor old
mother much good.
ASHE: It certainly wonít but your fellow Kerryman didnít
think that when he sent you and Constable Addledepete out to lift him.
BLACK : Marty OíLeary is only here twelve months. He has
built up his own little network of snitches all right but he still doesnít
know the score.
ASH: He might know it by the time heís finished with the
Poet. Lannigan knows people and heís very pally with OíConnor the Labour
BLACK : I know. Did you see the write-up about him on
last weekís Wicklow People?
ASHE: No. The only things I read in Provincial papers
are the GAA results. And you donít have many exhilarating ones in the Wicklow
People. What did they say about Lannigan?
BLACK:I left it in the squad car. (exits, stage right)
(Ashe rushes to phone and starts to dial but drops
the phone when Kilgannon enters, stage left, out of cell)
ASH : Well? Was he on about Robbie Burns?
KILGANNON: No. He didnít say anything about Bobby Byrne,
he said him and Liam O ëShea got a lift home with Doctor Maguire the
night the hay was burned. Maybe Blackíd get something out of him.
ASHE:He might. Black is not too fond of the Poet.
KILGANNON: No. The poet made a bit of a song about him
one time. Remember when Paddy had the house rented off Dick Egan. A dacent
man Dick. A Protestant but a dacent man. When Black was leaving the house,
after heíd built his own house, it was wrecked. The childer had it wrecked.
So he went in to give back the key to Dick at twelve OíClock at night.
But Dick was cute enough : he wouldnít take the key until he examined the
house in the daylight. He was after getting legal advice donít you know.
ASHE: Yes, and then Paddy wanted us to do Dickís son for
everything from an uncut ragworth to an unlicensed dog.
KILGANNON: Itís true for you.
ASHE: And then the morning the Post Office here was robbed
and Black got a blow of a tyre-lever on the head the Poet recorded it for
Oh Garda Black
He got a smack
At twenty past eleven.
It missed his eye
By half an inch
And his brain by two-foot seven.
KILGANNON: Where is Black?
ASH: Heís gone to get an article about Lannigan that was
in the Wicklow People.
KILGANNON: Oh Paddyíll have plenty of information as long
as it doesnít cost him nothing.
ASHE: He treats us very much on a need to know basis.
He only tells us what suits him. He grew up only five miles from the Skipper.
Theyíre the same age so he couldnít be in the dark about him. Did you know
Marty was a mental nurse before he joined the Guards? Paddy didnít tell
KILGANNON: A "keeper" like?
ASHE: Yes. He worked for four years in the Mental Hospital
KILGANNON: They say some of them keeper lads is as bad
as what they do be minding.
ASHE: If you lie down with the dogs youíll get up with
the fleas. Itís not a great grounding for a career in the police sure enough.
For, as John Clare said .in a madhouse there exists no law .(mischievously)
Wouldnít the Poet have a field-day with that information?
KILGANNON : Oh them Kerrymeníll wonít tell you nothiní
unless it suits them.
ASHE : Did you know that Paddy claims to be a descendent
of the Earls of Kenmare?
KILGANNON: There was a Jimmy Earls lived in Knocknasillog.
I think he was a Kerryman.
BLACK: (Entering opening the Wicklow People and
When Miley Lannigan is not working on his small farm he
loves to put the stories of contemporary "doin's an' sayin's" to verse
in the time-honoured but no longer widely-practiced manner of the Bards
In olden days the Bard was a respected and feared member
of the community :
with the passing of the old, Gaelic way of life the status
greatly and in the last century the term was just used
denote any local character who put the local happenings
Many such local troubadours were people of genuine ability
and could, and did, catch the mood of the community ethos, which they mirrored
in their 'versifications.'
In their ranks I would place Miley Lannigan and I feel
he would rightfully
be awarded the title of 'Bard' in his local community
had he lived there
His works range from the whimsical to the sombre and from
to the sublime. However, rural, and indeed urban life,
in the Ireland of
the past mirrored all of those aspects and what Miley
does is in direct
line of descent from the wordsmiths of yore.
KILGANNON: Did ye ever hear such a load of rubbish about
a fellow that..
(Sergeant appears in rear door, excited).
SERGEANT: A guard shot dead in Dublin. one oíclock today.
Jim Mahony.I served with him in Malahide. Bank Raid on the Quays five armed
men. Jim was always a plucky lad.It said on the news headlines that itís
thought theyíre the same gang that robbed the Roundwood bank on the eight
BLACK: That was a tidy one. They walked in dressed as
FCA men, robbed the place and were gone in a few minutes.
SERGEANT: According to the wireless they escaped, with
two thousand pounds, today in a red Zepher.
BLACK : Two thousand pounds?
KILANNON: Will we set up a checkpoint?
SERGEANT :(Impatiently) Theyíd be in Cork by now. Unless
theyíre walking. Poor Jim Mahony God rest him. (exits rear)
KILGANNON: Nothing ever happens here.(under his breath)
Thanks be to God.
(Sound of heavy vehicle stopping briefly and taking off
ASHE: Thereís the 65 bus. Heíll have the papers (walking
towards door) Iíll go in next door and get the Herald.
BLACK: Get me twenty Sweet Aftons (gives him coins)
ASHE: (counting money) Thereís not enough here
for twenty fags. Youíre fourpence short.
BLACK: Amby always gives me a cut. Tell him theyíre for
(Phone rings. Kilgannon answers it)
KILGANNON: Itís for you Liam.
ASHE: Hello..ah TomNo, you didnít flummox me. Iíd know
a Toornafulla accent anywhere. No I didnít..I was at Mondello ..I would
have put a few bob on Gurtnacrehy Hero if I was there..no I suppose there
isnít..and thereís not many heroes in Toornafulla either yeah.Why am I
not surprised?Iím not surprised at that eitherWell, if he knows thereís
no point in telling him. As Willliam Blackstone said It is better that
ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer . But of course Blakehouse
didnít spend four years working in an asylum. You may be sure of it..thanks
Tom.Iíll see you. (hangs up) That was Tom Howley. He was stationed with
me in Robertstown. He was talking to John Bryan at Naas races on Saturday.
And guess what John told him? That he burned Des Collinsís hay accidentally,
he was in it with Julia Cassidy, and that the Skipper knows all about it.
BLACK and KILGANNON: Whatíll we do with the Poet?
ASHE: The words of Thomas Jefferson were hardly ever more
apt: We have the wolf by the ears and we can neither hold him, nor safely
let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other
. (exits, stage right.)
KILGANNON: That fellow is as bad as Lannigan, with his
spakes. He hardly got that class of learniní at Gurtnacloca National School.
BLACK: Ah, heís getting a bit of private tuition , I think.
Thereís a certain schoolmistress below in the Bog-of-Allen and he puts
the cuffs on her now and again.
KILGANNON: Do you notice how Ashe seems to be more or
less on the Poets side?
BLACK: Poetic courtesy?
KILGANNON : No.I think Lannigan knows something about
Liam. Remember he said something about pedigree to him when he came in.
BLACK: The Lannigans are great men for the Pedigree. Mileyís
father always says,"Ye should always look at the Stud-book."
KILGANNON: Anído you remember the night young Kiely was
knocked out here on the street with the belt of a baton? Well, the Poet
seen it. He knows that it was Asheís pal McMahon, that was transferred
to Baltinglass, that done it.
ASHE : (Reading from Evening Herald as he enters) Chief
superintendent Seamus Fennell, this morning, led a mixed force..
BLACK : Whereís me fags?
ASHE (Ignoring the question)
"...Chief superintendent Seamus Fennell, this morning,
led a mixed force of heavily armed Special Branch Detectives to a galvanised-roofed
two roomed cottage at Corock in remote West-Wicklow, used from time to
time as a hide-out by five wanted men. . Thatís just across the field from
the Poetís house. The men, who rented the cottage from Joseph Browne, are
all wanted for questioning about the robbery of the Roundwood Bank on Wednesday
08th October. It was suspected at the time that the raiders were holed
up in the Wicklow mountains and the local Gardai carried out house-to-house
enquiries. I like that.we didnít do any house to house enquiries anyway.
The raiding party was wryly amused by what they found lying on the floor....................Some
of the residents had been studying detective methods. Their reading matter
included at least one copy of the American magazine 'The Detective'. Also
found in the cottage were items of clothing and other things indicating
that it possibly had been used as a cache by an illegal organisation. The
clothing found included five FCA uniforms ".
(Black and Kilgannon stand open-mouthed)
ASHE: I must say itís going to look great. Two Banks robbed,
a Guard dead and the perpetrators living on our doorstep. And here are
we looking after the important business of the day : interrogating a peasant/poet
about a heap of dog-rushes that was burned accidentally : and all to appease
a half arsed farmer-cum-huckster, like Des Collins, who might tip us off
occasionally about some young lad riding around on an untaxed Honda Fifty.
BLACK: Whatí s going to happen now?
ASHE: Whatís going to happen? What do you think is going
to happen? Every last man of us will be transferred. (Lightning up) Ah,
well. Itíll be nice to get out of this kip. Theyíll probably send you back
to Howth, where you started. (recites) :
The boy stood on the burning deck
With arse against the mast
And faced the opposition
Til the hill-Oí-Howth was passed.
And when the hill OíHowth was passed
BLACK: Itís all right for you to titter aní grin. You
have nothing only a pair of football boots and what you have in your trousers.
I have a family and Iím after building a house.
ASHE: Ah : yes, but the house owns you. You see I listened
to John Donne.
KILGANNON: John Dunne? Would he be one of the Dunnes abroad
ASHE: (reciting dramatically)
And seeing the snail, which everywhere doth roam
Carrying his own house still, still is at home.
Follow (for he is easy paced) this snail
Be thine own palace, or the worldís thy jail.
BLACK : Thatís all very well but, but.
ASHE: I suppose Iíd better bring the Psychiatric Nurse
up to date on happening in Corock (He partly opens rear door and shouts,
"Sergeant, have a look at this!"
(The Sergeant enters, takes papers and becomes increasingly
agitated as he reads)
ASHE: (Taking obvious pleasure from the Sergeantís
discomfort) What do you think of the reference to us making house to
house enquiries ?
SERGEANT: (Annoyed) I doníí have the manpower for
house to house. Iím asking for months for extra men to police this place
BLACK: Weíd want to be able to show that we put some effort
into looking for the Bank Robbers.
SERGEANT: . Shiela Murray in Largabeg Post Office is one
of ourís. Iíll get Mary, the wife, to type a letter, marked confidential
like, asking for information. Weíll back-date it and address it to Largabeg
Post Office) They donít postmark anything with the harp on it).Shiela wonít
let us down. But Mary is with her sister in Caragh and wonít be back ëtil
Friday. I suppose Iíll have to try and type it myself. You couldníí trust
anyone else with a job like that.
You get out there to Corock and put up some kind of a
show. The place is going to be crawling with Branch men. But what can we
do. Theyíre laughing at us anyway.
(Black and Kilgannon exit)
SERGEANT : Let that lad out before you go.
ASHE : (Opening cell door) Come on. Get out. Weíre
letting you go for now but weíll be taking you in again. (Ashe exits).
LANNIGAN : Sergeant, thank you very much for using your
discretion and exercising your prerogative in issuing the instruction to
have me released from custody.
SERGEANT : If you donít shut up youíll be back in that
LANNIGAN : And a very interesting cell it is too. Though
itís a pity that the Office Of Public Works, or itís imperial predecessor
didnít invest more thought in the soundproofing of the aforementioned place
of incarceration. A person of my acute auricular perception could, AND
DID, pick up some very interesting information through that door.
SERGEANT : (Moving forward to put Lannigan back in
the cell) Iím not going to listen.
LANNIGAN : Ah, hold on now Sergeant. I have just one further,
small, observation to make about the design and construction of your detention
quarters. It lacks toilet facilities and it has been said that improvisation
is too good to leave to chance. Your next prisoner may very well lodge
a formal complaint about a slightly damp mattress.
SERGEANT: (Rushing into cell) You didnít.
LANNIGAN : (Bolting cell door)
With apologies to the late Oscar :
I know not whether laws be right
Or whether laws be wrong.
But if the mattress isnít changed tonight
Thereíll be a right ould pong.
SERGEANT : (Banging on door) You wonít get away
with this....youíll be locked up.
LANAGAN: Relax Sergeant, Relax. You are the one thatís
locked up. Youíll have a nice long rest. You said your wife is not back
until Friday? And the boys wonít be in any hurry back from Corock. Didnít
you tell them to put up a good show. But you have nothing to worry about.
Iíll lock the outside door when Iím going.
(Phone rings, Lannigan answers it)
LANNIGAN (Putting on a Kerry accent) Hello. Carrigmore
Gardai...Sergeant Marty Oí Leary speaking.. Whoís this? Telefis Eireann
is it? Yes there was a bit of action out in Corock this morning. No...I
canít do a live phone interview, during the next news bulletin because
Iím walking out the door this very minute. . Iíd be gone only you rang.
I have a dog running in Newbridge..Oh, I can. I can no bother. Iíll give
you the whole lowdown on the situation now. (Banging on cell door and shouts
of Let me out ) Sorry about that. We have a prisoner here and he thinks
he should get out. Heís a local farmer who claimed his rick of hay was
burned maliciously but we know that there was an insurance connection.
He hasnít admitted it yet. But he will. I have that ladís measure. You
see .and you can broadcast this. I worked in the Mental Health Service
before I joined the Guards.
Anyway, about the job above in Corock this morning. Oh
we knew the boys were there all right. Right from the time they robbed
the Roundwood Bank. We had them under cover you see. We knew theyíd strike
again, But we didnít think it would be so quick. We were up to our eyes
here anyway. Crime here has gone out of all proportion. Just to give you
an instance. Last Friday night week Mickey Browne the grocer in Ballyarny,
in the course of his deliveries, left a bag of messages at Johnny Penderís
When Johnnie went out to bring in his groceries wasnít
there a half pound of cooked ham missing. We interrogated the usual suspects
but none of them would squeal. Oh we havenít closed the file on it yet.
What? Oh, the lads in Corock,oh weíll apprehend them boyos yet, donít you
worry. I can tell you as an experienced and accomplished officer (Iíd go
so far as to say that Iím genetically disposed to law enforcement : wasnít
my father a member of an auxiliary police force below in Kerry in 1920).
Weíll get them yet. But as I was saying to you crime here is gone mad.
The place is turning into another Tallagh. Only last Monday morning, first
thing, Ted Martin left his bike at Morris Cullinís Corner, across from
the Barrack here, while he was going into Hendronís for a bale of binding
twine. When he came out ten minutes later his pump was stolen. Of course
nobody saw anything.
(Banging at cell door and shouting)
Iím sorry Iíll have to sign off. Our prisoner is getting
a bit obstreperous.
(He hangs up phone and immediately takes it off the
SERGEANT : If you let me out now, IĎll see to it that
you are treated leniently.
LANNIGAN: (Moving towards cell door) Sergeant,
my good man, it takes two to make a bargain and you are not exactly negotiating
from a position of strength.
How about this? On your release-whenever that is- if you
say nothing about this I wont tell the Commissioner that you authorised
my wrongful arrest and illegal detention for a crime that you knew wasnít
committed. You see, Sergeant, given the present climate and todayís happening
a complaint from me could mean that you would, once again, revert to being
an Asylum Seeker in Kerry : if you follow my meaning.
SERGEANT: If you open the door weíll talk about it.
LANNIGAN: You know sergeant, I was just pondering on the
important part that burned hay played in world history. Think of the number
of times, here on our own island, that a blazing load of hay was used to
ignite an RIC barracks. And then there was the encounter of Lieutenant
Clemens (Mark Twain to you) at Garrets barn.
(with increasing sarcasm) You are of course aware
of the story behind the painting "Burning of The Hay at Coram" by Thomas
R.Bayles. A considerable amount of hay had been collected by the British
Army and stored at Coram on Long Island. It's burning was planned and carried
out by Major Benjamen Talmadge and General George Washington considered
the burning of the hay more important than the capture of the fort at Mastic.
Who knows.....Maybe yours and mine will yet be household names, linked
in the minds of future generations with the burning of a rick>
Lannigan moves to front of stage and sings, to the
air of The Old Alarm Clock).
It happened up near Largabeg
In November sixty nine
I was feediní pigs and makiní rhymes
The day being far from fine.
When the Gardai got contrary
And they gave to me the knock
But somehow or other chanced to miss
The gunmen in Corock.
They took me into Carrigbeg
Which made me swear and curse.
My internment was authorised
By the Psychiatric Nurse .
They said Weíre going to charge you
As Ashe the door did lock.
But from the cell I could hear quite well
Of the happenings in Corock.
(Lannigan takes Garda cap from top of filing cabinet,
puts it on at clumsy angle, looks in mirror and recites :)
Caps tilted, fag drooping, every one
Looks like a jailbird on the run.
(He sits down, puts feet up on desk and peruses front
page of Evening Heral).
Then turns to page two, obviously finds a phone number
and has a brainwave. He enthusiastically reaches for the phone and dials).
LANNIGAN: Hello. Evening Herald? Could you put me through
to the News Desk please. ..Hello.This is Garda William Kilgannon, Carrigbeg
Station. Iím acting Sergeant..Sergeant OíLeary is gone to the dogs. Ah,
no..no..I mean heís gone Greyhound Racing. I have a news tip for you. it
should be worth a few pound. You had a piece in this evenings paper about
the Branch raiding a cottage in Corock. Well, we have one of the robbers
in custody here.he headed back to Corock after the Bank raid in Dublin.
A local farmer, Miley Lannigan caught him trying to rob Seamus OíTooleís
van. Fair play to Miley he made a citizens arrest and brought your man
in here at the point of a dung-fork before.(shouts from cell : We can talk,
let me out and Iílll make some arrangement with you) Shut up you robber
you. No.no not you, sorry about that do you hear your man in the cell aní
he lookiní for mercy? As I was saying about Miley Lannigan, we could have
done with Miley here last week. Wait Ďtil I tell you. Didnít Guard Black
leave the keys in the squad car and it parked abroad on the street. Thereís
a boyo here in the village, heís known as the Jackal and nothing would
do him only to rob the squad car. He kept it for two days so he did. Oh
we got it back and Black aní Ashe bet the shite out of him..(Banging at
cell door). l have to let you go this buck is not too happy with his lodgings..Thanks.
(He leaves phone off the hook ,takes PRIVATE notice
from rear door and puts it on cell door and then goes to front of stage
and sings :)
Back to a dark October day
As autumn mists hung down
A daring raid was carried out
In Roundwoodís little town.
Up to West Wicklow homesteads
The Guards were told to flock.
But they let the boys return in peace
To the hideout in Corock.
To keep the law I have been reared
Aní thatís how I mean to stay
Though Iím slightly disillusioned
By the goings-on today.
But if I were a robber
And the law I chose to mock
I could live without disturbance
In a cottage in Corock.
(He exits, stage right, closing outside door)