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Mattie Lennon


info@mattielennon.com.

Mattie Lennon was born in the first half of the last century at Kylebeg, Lacken, Blessington, Co. Wicklow. He was not at any stage called "the black sheep of the family" mainly because he was (and is) an only child. His earliest memory is of 13th January 1949 .....

On Monday, January 10th, 1949, I attained the age of three. I donĂt remember it, but I do recall Thursday 13th, it was the Fair-Day in Blessington. When I awoke it was very dark. I made my way into the kitchen, attracted by the yellow glow of lamplight; my feet sensitive to the change of surface as I stepped from the concrete floor of the ˘upper room÷ to the granite paved kitchen. It was not night but morning; a fact proclaimed by my fatherĂs apparel as he sat on a low stool at a military-style bench which on this occasion served as a breakfast table.

The Primary Cert, my first attempt at growing side locks and the felling that my initial nocturnal adventure into Soho was in some way repugnant to Catechism teaching are all a sort of psychedelic jumble in my brain. Most memories have become blurred on the screen of time, but superimposed there and in no way distorted is my first picture of that big man, with greying hair, eating home-cured rashers from a maidenhair fern plate. The kitchen was devoid of a clock, but he threw the odd glance at the key-winder pocket watch which hung from a bent oval nail on the second shelf of the dresser. (Years later, during one of my unsuccessful attempts at horology I dismantled the faithful chronometer and having reassembled it, had parts left over; Nothing was learned from the operation except that it had been repaired in 1899). When he had mopped up the last drop of grease with a crust of home-made bread, I was to witness a scene that I would see repeated a thousand times. He took each of his boots in turn and placed a couple of small red coals inside each. Then, expertly, he rocked them from heel to toe several times. He replaced the coals in the fire, laced each boot firmly and stamped his feet on the hearth as if to test it.

A full pipe was tamped with his index finger and reddened with a paper spill lit from the glass-bowled oil lamp which stood at his right elbow. My mother often talked of trimming and filling oil-lamps in the house of gentry, yet she hardly ever succeeded in cutting this lamp wick straight across. The result was a diagonal flame.

˘His pipe is filled, heĂs ready÷ Then, he took the reins out of the ponyĂs winkers that hung by the open fire, under the ˘tillage÷. With the rope he made a head collar, went to the cow house and led out the ˘white head cow÷. The name was not a misnomer; she was a big red animal, with a white forehead adorned by two sturdy unmatching horns. I was seeing her for the first time; having sprinkled her with Holy Water, from a jam-dish on the windowsill and making the Sign of the Cross on himself, he brought her to the road. The predawn hue was giving way to daylight. It was already bright enough to see the silhouetted paling posts and the stark contour of Black hill and the stable.

A rat raced across the road. A neighbour cycled past on his way to work. Friendly salutations were exchanged. My mother ushered me back to bed. My first recordable day had begun.

He spent the first 25 years of his life at home on a small farm. He claims to identify with Patrick Kavanagh's "burgled bank of youth" (and says he is one of the few of his generation who knows how to make a bush-harrow). As a young fellow whenever he was blamed in the wrong he would compose a derogatory ballad about his accuser. There weren't many false accusations so he wasn't very prolific.

He was nicknamed "the Poet" but emphasises that the term wasn't always complimentary. He agrees that what is said behind ones back is their standing in the community and his favourite quotation is a comment made about him by a neighbour: "Wouldn't you think someone would tell him he's an eejit, when he doesn't know himself".

He has spent most of the last thirty years in Dublin but when asked "Will you ever go back to Kylebeg"? the answer is always Joycean. When James Joyce was asked, in Trieste; "Will you ever return to Dublin?" he said; "I never left".

Mattie Lennon has written articles (mostly humorous) for The Sunday Independent, The Irish Times, The Irish Post, Irelands Own, Irelands Eye, Kerry's Eye, The Wicklow People, The Leinster Leader as well as numerous on-line publications.

He claims that he was once told; "You have the perfect face for radio" and he compiled and presented his own programmes in the "Voiceover" series on RTE Radio One. He has presented ballad programmes on KIC FM and is currently doing a Sunday morning ballad show on Radio Dublin 100FM

This year he co-presented the Saint Patrick's Day Ceol na nGael programme on WFUV 90.7 in the Bronx. He also does pre-recorded programmes for other stations. One such programme is "The Story And The Song" in which he plays a number of ballads, having first told the story behind each one.

He still writes the occasional ballad (not all of them fit for human consumption).

PICTURES:

(Top) "Mattie's father Tim Lennon (RIP) from whom he inherited the ability to amuse, immitate, and annoy in whatever he does."

(Bottom)
Schoolhouse at Lacken, Co. Wicklow by Brendan Scally - 1990, of which Mattie says, "Lacken National School ... was my only academy."

A more recent project for Mattie is ĹSunrise on the Wicklow Hillsĺ a DVD, directed by Julie Phibbs, commemorating four hundred years since the inauguration of Co. Wicklow. The County is depicted through ballads, stories and breathtaking scenery, and Mattie's role in it is singular, where he both narates segments and serves as a tour guide for the presentation. See also www.westwicklowfilms.com

 

Type Month Year Title
Article March 2002 Tow Away Lines
Article April 2002 Who Nose
Column May 2002 Irish Eyes
Article June 2002 Tony Guerin, Playwright
Column June 2002 Irish Eyes
Article July 2002 Sean McCarthy Memorial Weekend 2002
Column July 2002 Irish Eyes
Column August 2002 Irish Eyes
Column September 2002 Irish Eyes
Poem September 2002 John B.
Column October 2002 Irish Eyes
Poem October 2002 How I Stack Me Oul CDs
Poem October 2002 The Slopes of Sweet Cloonee
Column November 2002 Irish Eyes
Article December 2002 Sydney Bernard Smith
Column December 2002 Irish Eyes
Column January 2003 Irish Eyes
Column February 2003 Irish Eyes
Column March 2003 Irish Eyes
Column April 2003 Irish Eyes
Column May 2003 Irish Eyes
Poem May 2003 John Carthy
Column June 2003 Irish Eyes
Column October 2003 Irish Eyes
Column November 2003 Irish Eyes
Column December 2003 Irish Eyes
Column January 2004 Irish Eyes
Column February 2004 Irish Eyes
Article March 2004 GO WHERE YOU %&*!$#-WELL LIKE
Column March 2004 Irish Eyes
Column April-May 2004 Irish Eyes
Column June 2004 Irish Eyes
Column August 2004 Irish Eyes
Column October 2004 Irish Eyes
Article December 2004 Mattie Lennon's Recommended Reading For Christmas
Column January 2005 Irish Eyes
Column February 2005 Irish Eyes
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Poem August 2006 John Carthy
Column Sept & Oct 2006 Irish Eyes
Poem Sept & Oct 2006 Only Those Hills
Column December 2006 Irish Eyes
Column January 2007 Irish Eyes
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Column January 2008 Irish Eyes
Article February 2008 Dublin Bus Driver Aids The Blind
Column February 2008 Irish Eyes
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Column April 2008 Irish Eyes
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Column June 2008 Hillbilly Run View
Column July 2008 Irish Eyes
Column August 2008 Irish Eyes
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Poem October 2008 Transport Gaels
Column November 2008 Irish Eyes
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Column January 2009 2008 Irish Eyes
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Article June-July 2009 Healing With The Fishes
Column June-July 2009 Irish Eyes
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Column December 2009 Irish Eyes
Column January 2010 2009 Irish Eyes
Column February 2010 2010 Irish Eyes
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