Dead Men Rising. Walt and Mickey Mouse. Old Leighlin.


I met a man the other day, who wished me dead. “I have a painting of yours on my wall in Australia. It’s of Lambay Island. If you were to die, the value might go up.” It might even reach treble figures. The frame alone…..eminently collectible… We hatched a not very good plan, where I would leave my clothes on the bench, swim home and hide in the attic for a century or two. Then I would emerge, like Rip Van Winkle, when the market had picked up, to divide the profits. It’s an old trick: John Stonehouse who swam to Florida; some idiot called Darwin who faked a canoeing accident (nearly became extinct) and arranged for his wife to collect the insurance and rendezvous with him in Brazil. He’s in gaol now; Prime Minister Holt , snaffled by a Russian submarine, or so they said. Be careful out there.


It’s too far for me. I’m not fit. I might die of the cold. We parked the plan and enjoyed our swim. I felt like a million dollars after it. Anyway, I knew that my lunch would be ready in half an hour, paella, ‘to die for’, as they puzzlingly say nowadays. Back to the drawing board.


In the churchyard of Old Leighlin  stands the headstone of the Disney family. Age and lichen have made it illegible. Walt isn’t here. (Glaswegian joke: “What’s the difference between Walt Disney and Bing Crosby?” “I dinna ken. What’s the …etc.” “Bing Crosby sings songs and Walt does nae.”) Sorry about that. Walt has opted for the old cryogenics. A cunning plan. His business, a Mickey Mouse operation to begin with, has gone from strength to strength and he’s been dead for only fifty years. Think of the joy his great grand children will feel when he comes back to attend his first board meeting and move back into the family home. Think of the plans he will have hatched  in the interim. And yet there could be snags. His deep freeze container is somewhere in the California mountains, among other kindred spirits. The place is notorious for forest fires!!  Hot diggety dawg! The power and rent bills could eat up all the profits. There will be legal ‘issues’.


A three-hundred year old Devon man, Sir Peter Carew took possession, by legal chicanery, of  this castle at Leighlinbridge.. At least that was what they said of him in Queen Elizabeth’s time. He employed a learned lawyer, Dr. Hooker of Exeter to revive an ancient family claim.  He dispossessed the resident Kavanagh family and threatened to bring war and strife to several parts of Ireland, as if Ireland hadn’t got enough strife already. The castle was to secure his family’s claims to this strategic region. It doesn’t look too good today. I be nigh on ninety seven. Born and bred in dear old Devon. If you would live as old as I, drink Devonshire cream and cider. Maybe that was what made so many Devon men, Carew, Stukely, Walt Raleigh, so aggressive in Ireland. Peter died at the age of sixty one, leaving no ‘issue’ to carry on his claims. Raleigh’s wife carried his mummified head in a bag for twenty seven years after his execution. He didn’t look well at all, at all. Should have tried the old cryogenics.


This was no Mickey Mouse foundation, an abbey since the seventh century, supporting 1500 monks. Then it became a cathedral, being rebuilt in the twelfth century. It houses the bones of long forgotten lords and ladies, in tombs with indecipherable inscriptions. This one shows a view of the vaulted ceiling overhead, a tomb with a view. Somebody remembers them enough to prompt a tribute of flowers.



In the interests of immortality and relief from sundry aches and pains, we went around to Saint Lazerian’s holy well. “Whatever you do, don’t drink the water,” people said to us. I tried some on my head in the hope of finding a luxuriant head of hair in the morning. No luck so far.



Drat! I forgot to leave an offering on the thorn bush. I shall go back next week and remedy the lapse.

Expect extraordinary tonsorial developments and a new bathing cap to keep my hair shiny. Because I’m worth it.


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