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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon


(Misspellings and lack of sunlight.)

I have wirtten this counlm for tewvle yares and I alwyas piad some attnetoin to sepllnig. Tehre wree tmies when I mdae the oaccsoianl msitkae when under perssrue to baet a daedlnie.

Prehpas it dind’t mttaer bceuase it has been etsbalihsed by rscheerch in Cmabridge Uinnervtisy that as lnog as the frist and lsat letter of a wrod are correct it is iervlenat what order the others are in.

Aoccridng to a porimnnat porffseor at the college in an atrcile “ The Paomnnehal Pweor of the Hmuan Mnid, “ It deosn’t mtt.aer in what order the ltters in a word are, the only iprmoatnt thnig is taht the frist and lsat ltter be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed itt wouthit porbelm. This is bcuseae the human mind deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe..”

Snice it deosn’t mttaet preahps I sohuld cnacel the splel cehck on my cmoptuer.

So who knows, prehpas my Spetmeebr piece wil all be wrttin like this. And when you bcemoe fmaliair with my sytle yuo’ll be lkoonig out for the blyine Mttai Lnneon.

* * * * *

Only joking. I’ll stick to conventional spelling (more or less.) English spelling can come in handy. Like the Kerryman who was asked, by an American tourist, “What’s the difference between peat and turf?” The Kerryman was ready with, “They’re spelled different.”

All this brings me back to my own schooldays and the hammerings I got because IO couldn’t remember, “I before E unless after C.” Or something like that. Amn’t I always reminiscing. I like to live in the past; it’s cheaper.

During the summer my mind was constantly flying back to the house I was reared in.

Thomas Hood wrote:

I remember, I remember
The house where I was born.
The little window where the sun,
Came peeping in at morn.

I can’t identify with that sentiment.

The house that I grew up in backed on to the “Lodge Lane.” My father, a master of over simplification and sometime wit used to say that we lived “in the shelter of the road ditch.” Our house had no windows facing the road. In Kerry such a dwelling would be described as Tig a’doicheall (the house of no welcome.)

But the design of our house had nothing to do with inhospitality but with climatic foresight.

It faced north and most bad storms came from the south or south-west and, in this, case, having the door and windows facing north afforded some shelter. And shelter is important when one is surrounded by the wild Wicklow hills. But the sun didn’t come peeping in at dawn.

With one gable facing due east and the other west the only time sunbeams invaded our house was- if the door was open- for a few evenings around mid-summer. A sort of Newgrange in reverse.

I don’t know if lack of diurnal illumination from one side had any sort of detrimental effect on me psychologically but not being able to see the owner of a footfall could be somewhat frustrating for a small child, especially one with an inquiring and restless mind. Although I could eventually identify those with a peculiar or unique step.

It was more difficult to identify vehicular traffic. A Thames van sounded different to a Ferguson tractor but that was about it.

When I inherited the humble homestead the first thing I did was to put a window in the back wall. It didn’t have a very exhilarating effect on me but perhaps it was too late.

Now, whenever I am awoken from my slumber by the sound of an engine, be it in Ballybunion or Belgrade, Lifford or Lisbon, I am no longer an OAP with free travel. For the first few of my awaking moments it is once again the early fifties. And my auricular faculty is receiving the sound of an engine labouring up the Lodge Lane.

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