DIP ME FLUTE
God save all here. I nearly didn’t make it. I met with an unavoidable delay. And I won’t burden you with the details but didn’t a more learned man than me once say that a storyteller can’t afford the luxury of living an ordinary life”
And speaking of learned men . . I think it was Bernard Shaw who described dancing as “Vertical expression of horizontal intent”.and, then or now, it would be as accurate a definition as you’d get.
Long before DeValera expressed his dream of "comely maidens and athlethic
youths at crossroads" young people held crossroads dances at Kylebeg in the West Wicklow of my youth. At the time it was the equivalent of Facebook or Dateline.
There was the occasional "American Wake" 'though not described as such in our part of the country. And during the twenties and thirties. There were also a number of regular dancing houses; usually dwellings with flagged floors and one or more eligible daughters. The small two-
However there was no danger of a late night invasion of John Osbornes by any Government Inpector. Because even the most dedicated servant of the State would not risk a nightime ambulation through the Rock Park. As the shadows jumped on the whitewashed walls and the lamplight flickered on the willow patterned delph an official invasion was the furthest thing from the minds of the revelers.
John Osborne, The man of the house was an accomplished flautist. Did he, I wonder, favour saturating his instrument, like, Neddy Bryan, the flute-
One night he was after playing a tune called “High Level” (Now . . .if I was sworn I can’t remember if it was a jig or a reel). Anyhow, one of the boyos says to him, “Do you know that your daughter is abroad in the haggard with Jimmy Doyle/” “I don’t” says John “But if you whistle a few bars of it I’ll have a go at it”.
Dancing wasn’t the only thing that went on in such houses. Now . . . now . . that’s NOT what I’m talking about. If you’ll listen for a minnit I’ll explain. If John Osborne was alive today he would be described as eccentric. Well . . . I suppose he wouldn’t . . he was a poor man and you have to be well off to merit the ephenusm “eccentric”. Anyway , he was a bit odd but could have some very practical, if unorthodox solutions to certain sitiuations. I’ll give you an example. One night a visiting dancer; a fine young fellow who had the book-
“That man is not the full eighteen hands high”.
***** a stone cutter who only lived one field away went home and returned with a six-
He made a good Guard but ever after, in our area anyway, he was known as “lumpy head”. There were some colourful nicknames around our place, One young male patron of Osborne’s was known as “you’ll have yer ups an’ downs”. You are going to ask me how anyone could end up with such a cumbersome handle. Well . . . I’ll tell you. It was inherited-
But I’m rambling. nowadays I think they call it digressing
I mentioned earlier about the practice of dipping the wooden flute in water. Well Whether for flute-
permanent feature on the stone bench outside Osborne's door. And one June night when the boys and girls (a term used to describe those unmarried, and under 70) having made it relatively unscathed through the Rock Park were knocking sparks from the floor. They were glad of the opportunity, amid the jigs and the reels (and God only knows what other energy-
informed by a youth (who was looked on locally as "a sort of a cod") of how he had suffered during the night with a stone-