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Whiskey and the Bar

A BRAW BOTTLE of whiskey crowns our kitchen pelmet ; we’ve solemnly sworn not to hear that squeaky ‘brrrp’ of it being uncorked until either Ireland is united or Scotland is independent. (It’s whiskey, not whisky, as the latter evaporates if you keep it inside in the heat for too long, but mine is not the voice of that experience). There are wagers on the odd Saturday night when we bandy dates, predictions and hopes, usually accompanied by infamous quotes and tunes. Great craic, to be sure. And we argue about whether the Irish colonised and civilised Scotland, even built Scotland’s roads and tunnels, bridges and railway lines. Though of course there’s a rejoinder that King Robert the Bruce’s mob landed in Ireland and kicked their bogtrotting arses into gear 700 years ago, saving them then, albeit far too briefly, from the ravages of the invading English forces. There’s a healthy at times demented competition jockeying as one Celt with another.

Sorrows are shared and tears shed in considering hapless, painful events ingrained into our DNA; rebellion, Clearances, Famine. There is regretful pondering over the way things should have been had there been no Culloden, had An Gorta Mor not also been allowed to decimate a population, had the youth, the young flower in bloom, of these lands not been ejected by force, fear or favour, to blossom thousands of miles away on foreign shores were they lucky to survive the awful, filthy, terrifying, slop-filled hungry journey. We’ve hundreds of memories, photos, videos of graveyards, headstones, monuments, commemorations of the most poignant of experiences known to Man. There is shared understanding of evictions, burnings, destruction, flogging, deportation, and worse. Knowledge includes dreadful accounts of torture, hurt, loss, spanning centuries and ending only a blink of an eye ago. Though we didn’t know each other at the time, we both respect vivid recollections of political maelstrom, learning to read from a traditionally sized News of the World with black and white photos of bomb sites and riots. There is a cabinet full of DVDs recording history, war and peace upon our own doorstep.

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