Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Threshold – Rob Doyle

A slightly edited version of this review appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on the 9 February 2020.

Rob Doyle’s new novel is a trip – in all manner of ways. In the company of his protagonist Rob Doyle (let’s call the writer Doyle and the protagonist Rob) we move from magic mushroom adventures in the Phoenix Park, to the documenta art festival in Kassel, from acid trips in Paris to sexual frustration in Sicily. We are transported from the darkest recesses of the subconscious and encounters with DMT elves to the Hieronymous Boschian squalor of a cellar in a Berlin night club where the arcane sexual preferences of its denizens are detailed with extra relish. The American writer Robert Stone maintained that “life is a means of extracting fiction” and this is the formula that applies to Doyle’s exhilarating and highly-entertaining work. The writer himself (ostensible authorial intrusions in the text are in italics) clarifies the matter on page 283 when he tells us that his novel is a “blend of memory, dream, learning and invention”. Rob is an engaging companion on these journeys. The tone is mostly rueful self-deprecation as the writer fails to write the books he should be writing. It’s colorful, scabrous, humorous and laced with arcane literary knowledge. A recurring motif is Rob’s consciousness of growing older and the falling off of intensity that being 34 entails. 

Those familiar with Doyle’s work will have noted his predilection for writers such as E. M Cioran and Georges Bataille – for the profane and the scatological. His protagonist Rob seems to be going off them. He now sees everything about Bataille as “cadaverous, putrefactive, pitch-black, violent and obscene”. Visiting both their graves he finds himself moving beyond their sterile nihilism although he does quote with relish Bataille’s epitaph on a Montpernasse Cemetery gravestone: “One day this living world will pullulate in my dead mouth.” Heady stuff. After a lengthy flirtation he also finds his enthusiasm for Buddhism waning. It’s asceticism is not for him and he is unwilling to abandon the three so-called defilements of consciousness: greed, hatred and delusion. He maintains however his higher love for Nietzsche and the pronouncements of the great man add heft throughout the text.

While the journey shows Rob shaking off some earlier affiliations he is also finding new ones. The concluding section is a hymn of praise to the visionary powers of DMT. Like the book itself this section is entitled Threshold  – surely a nod to Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception. DMT is a very powerful, short-lasting psychedelic that blasts you into realms “that are unimaginably bizarre, and populated by non-human entities with baffling intentions.” It is claimed that the drug provides insights into the ultimate reality behind the painted veil of our quotidian existence. “The world in its nakedness is vast, vivid, and shocking.” One of Rob’s friends claims that you can only remain an atheist if you keep your dose of DMT below 40 milligrams. Maybe there’s a solution here for the waning power of the Catholic Church.

If you are thinking that perhaps Rob’s mind is addled from his adventures with hallucinogens then two of sections that confront contemporary art will give you pause. He visits a Tino Sehgal exhibition in Paris. Sehgal is an architect of human interaction and Rob gives the reader an insightful and admiring account of the constructed situations that he creates.  He  takes a detour to Kassel to check out documenta (note that pretentious lower case d) – a contemporary art fair that occurs every five years. There he encounters the Parthenon of Books – a recreation of the Grecian original consisting entirely of banned books. Rob sides with the book burners reflecting that having a book banned gives authors the prestige of rock gods. “You couldn’t buy that kind of publicity”. He is thoroughly unimpressed with the direction taken by contemporary art seeing it as  “a festival of piety and earnest political sighs”.

It’s no surprise to read that Doyle is an admirer of William Blake. Rob has undertaken a demanding route march along the road of excess and his journey terminates in a palace of wisdom. Acid is not the answer we learn but DMT may well be. However, beneath all the constant  drinking, the searching for enlightenment, the frenetic drug taking, the writerly ennui, the vacuous sex, the slacking and the constant traveling thrums Gaspar Noé’s chastening observation at the start of the book about “the shimmering vacuity of the human experience.” 

Bloomsbury Circus
PP: 313
RRP: €??

Susan Sontag - Monster Sacre

Just finished Benjamin Moser’s fascinating 800-page biography of Susan Sontag. It’s a warts and all job with very special emphasis on Sontag’s infamous lack of empathy and intolerance for anybody who didn’t meet her stratospherically high standards.  That of course included most people. Her last substantial relationship was with the photographer Annie Leibovitz – a woman who had carved out a considerable niche for herself in the cultural world and who supported Sontag with extreme generosity in her latter years. Sontag was critical of Leibovitz’s failure to be as well-read as she was –and no one was as well read as Sontag. Observers described her relationship with Leibovitz as insulting and cruel. “You’re so dumb” she’d say to her. At one dinner party she was discussing Artaud (as you’d imagine she would be) and she turned to Leibovitz and said “Well, you wouldn’t understand who that is.”

Moser is also extremely critical of her failure to publicly acknowledge her sexuality. This became an issue during the AIDS crisis when the gay community were under fire. A prominent intellectual like Sontag jumping in to defend them would have been appreciated. However Sontag’s writing on the subject was kept at an intellectual distance and failed to mention that it was her own community that was being attacked. Although she slept with men and women, her sexual preference was always for women. She was very touchy on this subject and even when living with Leibovitz she always claimed to be bisexual. She was quoted as saying: “I don’t think same-sex relationships are valid. The parts don’t fit.” Her relationships with men all seemed to involve men who were intellectually powerful and from whose knowledge she could benefit. Her first husband was her college professor (she was only 17 when she met him) and she also had relationships with Joseph Brodsky and Jasper Johns.

Having failed to get an abortion agreed to by her husband she had one child – a son David. Although she clearly loved him, she treated him first with neglect (her social and intellectual life came first) and later as a literary rival. 

Her finest hour was undoubtedly her sojourn in Sarajevo where she put herself in mortal danger and wrote her dispatches from within the besieged city. The book ends poignantly with her third bout of cancer. She refused to the very end to accept that the disease could beat her and did not go gently.

He non-fiction is what will survive of her although she desperately wanted to be seen as a novelist first and foremost. Her journals are also very interesting as they show the studied determination to improve herself and also the insecurities that were well hidden behind the omniscient public persona. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Irish Horse - An Exhibition that Did Not Take Place at the National Gallery of Ireland

These are notes towards a review of Irish Horse – an exhibition scheduled to run at the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI) from the 25th April to the 16th August 2020. Sadly the exhibition has been cancelled for obvious reasons. The catalogue however will be printed and these notes are based on a PDF of the draft catalogue. I have only seen a few of the works in the flesh.

Curator Brendan Rooney states in the exhibition catalogue that “Horses and art are inherently suited to one another”. And yet up to the advent of Jack B. Yeats, there’s a singular lack of paintings of merit by Irish artists that feature the horse in other than a peripheral role. Rooney’s catalogue essay makes much of this dearth of native equine art  – going back as far as the 18th Century. The Anglo-Irish ascendancy at that time were inclined to look to England if they wanted their four-legged heroes painted. In the 18th Century Lord Clanbrassil enlisted George Stubbs when he wanted to immortalize his great hunter Mowbray, an example followed by Robert Gregory of Coole Park and many others. We hear of a couple of indigenous artists, Robert Healy and Thomas Roberts, who showed promise in this area in the 18th Century but sadly both died in their twenties. Perhaps they would have been our Stubbs and Munnings. 

Ireland has long had an affinity with the horse – especially through the exploits of our racing heroes such as Arkle and Nijinsky (see image with Lester Piggott on board), and their fabled trainers Tom Dreaper and  Vincent O’Brien. Our show-jumpers and our breeding operations are also renowned throughout the world. But racing doesn’t seem to need fine art. After every big race triumph a ritual takes place in the parade ring whereby the owner, trainer, jockey, groom and winning horse are photographed for posterity. This tableaux seems to be sufficient record for all concerned. There are of course exceptions: Tony O’Connor’s fine portraits of Galileo and Sea the Stars and sculptures such as Emma McDermot’s bronze of Ridgewood Pearl at the Curragh and John Behan’s Arkle surrounded by triumphant supporters at Galway Racecourse. Peter Curling is the best-known specialist equine artist at work here and although his rather bucolic paintings are successful commercially, he seems to operate in a realm outside the contemporary Irish art scene – seen perhaps as a genre painter and side-lined accordingly. O’Connor is a less well-known but Unique, his vibrant horse study in this exhibition, should garner the Cork-based artist a host of new admirers.  

The noticeably high proportion of non-Irish artists in the exhibition highlights this historical indifference of Irish artists towards the horse. However, the 20th century brought two artists who have made up for this disappointing situation: Jack B. Yeats and Basil Blackshaw. Both, tellingly, grew up amongst horses. Yeats spent his childhood summers in Sligo where he had access to the stables of his uncle George Pollexfen and nearby Bowmore racecourse, while Blackshaw’s father was a trainer and he spent most of his life amongst sporting folk in rural Antrim. There are seven works by Yeats in the show with the early representational works of horses going about their business predominating as in The Swinford Funeral and The Mail Car. On the Racecourse, Sligo presents an unusual jockey-cam perspective of the racecourse as seen from behind the horse’s head. The later Yeats is meagerly represented with a 1937 work referencing Bianconi and his 1948 painting Let ‘em Go and Take Care of Yourself. Overall it’s a rather prosaic selection with none of those magical, high-spirited creatures you see in Freedom, On to Glory or The Proud Galloper. (Or the very late painting My Beautiful showing the bond between man and horse – a painting only a true horse lover could have achieved.) 

Blackshaw’s three works include The Fall a dramatic and energetic rendition of a horse and jockey parting company. He is also responsible for the very beautiful and atmospheric Tommy Orr, Blacksmith. The horse and farrier almost blending in the steam-filled smithy. In more recent times Laurence Riddell has produced a series of works that convey the grace and energy of horses in motion – as in Corporeal Space (VI),  a painting of a horse lunging. Compare the energy and audacity of this work with John Lavery’s sun-dappled idyll of the same subject (Schooling the Pony). His striking photographic montage on the cover of the catalogue (Provenance II) is a work for the Kildangan Stud with a background that playfully nods towards George Stubbs. Martin Gale is yet another Irish artist with a racing pedigree. His father was a successful jockey and in his childhood was educated alongside Vincent O’Brien’s children while his father worked at Ballydoyle. He resisted the call of his equine origins for many years but in recent time has painted a series called Bloodlines, one of which figures in the show. Like Riddell, he juxtaposes a modern race horse with the now anachronistic representations of George Stubbs.

There are three works by William Orpen – all very different. Racing historians will be drawn to his painting of Sergeant Murphy. He was not an Irish horse, being bred in the USA, but he distinguished himself by winning the Grand National at the age of 13 – still a record. He continued racing until the unheard of age of 17 and died in action at the old Bogside racecourse. Although he had no interest in being a painter of horses, Orpen reckoned he could do it as well as any specialist, such as his acquaintance and contemporary Alfred Munnings. His depiction of Sergeant Murphy contains the figure of Munnings leaning against a tree admiring his rivals’s handiwork. The Baldoyle Steeplechaser is a jokey self-portrait of Orpen dressed as a jockey. The jutting lower lip exaggerates a feature that was often the source of unkind comments about his appearance. The picture, he told his  mistress (Mrs. St. George), is  “as I appeared to myself when I got home last night.” Orpen’s third work, The Knackers Yard, leaves all jokes aside. It is a disturbing depiction of what happens to horses when their racing or working days are over. In the Dublin of his time the average life expectancy of these poor beasts of burden was three years. A shocking statistic when you consider that a well-treated horse can live into its late twenties. Orpen of course also saw the slaughter of horses during the First World War when he was a war artist. There’s another disturbing image of an abused horse in Father Browne’s Fallen Horse, O’Connell Bridge.

The two best known painters of horses in these islands, George Stubbs and Alfred Munnings, are included. This is the same Munnings that claimed that the work of Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso had “corrupted art”. While both artists are British, their paintings in this exhibition feature Irish subjects - Munnings was a regular visitor to Ireland and often spent time in Kilkenny in the company of renowned hunter Isaac “Ikey” Bell. These days many of Munnings’ horse portraits rest in the company of John Magnier of Coolmore Stud who has a major collection of his work. Stubbs portrait of Lord Clanbrassil’s magnificent hunter Mowbray has an Arcadian setting and an artificial feel – and the pasty-faced Clanbrassil looks far less healthy than his horse. Munnings’ Kilkenny Horse Fair gets down amongst the hoi polloi, albeit with the addition of a scenic ruined castle. 

Curator Rooney has cast his net very wide so there are bound to be a few inclusions that could have been rejected without causing any diminution in quality or interest. (John Hutton’s set of six designs for coaches seems a whimsical addition – hardly art and hardly horse.) But conversely he has included some exotic and interesting  figures that many would not connect with the Irish horse, or indeed Irish art. How many are familiar with Lutz Dille, Erich Hartmann and Elliot Erwitt? Or Ernest Albert Waterlow?  Erwitt, now in his 90s, may be known to lovers of rock music as he has regularly worked with The Rolling Stones and was still photographer on Bob Dylan’s No Direction Home. He came to Ireland in 1962 and did a series of anthropological studies of the Irish – time capsules now of the way we were. His focus was people although dogs and occasionally horses also featured. Lutz Dille started his photography career in the German Army during the Second World War – working on reconnaissance. He later moved to Canada where he became a successful documentary photographer. His forte was people he encountered on his travels and he did a series in Ireland in from which Ireland, 1968 is taken – a bleak image of a horse and cart in a coal yard. Ernest Waterlow is yet another British painter – his Galway Gossips from the Tate Collection is less a celebration of the Irish Horse and more a condescending take on us rural Irish primitives. Punch would have been proud of it. Photography is very well represented and we get a taste of those who participated in the old Smithfield Horse Market from Perry Ogden. Sculpture is best represented by Conor Fallon’s elegant polished steel Horse, 1986. 

The NGI does like to divide exhibitions into divisions that can be aligned with the gallery’s layout. These are often chronological and usually make practical sense but the Irish Horse’s ones seem somewhat contrived: Portraits/People/Sport/The Everyday/Symbol. For example, Orpen’s portrait of Sergeant Murphy could fit into at least three of these categories. And do we really need four of Spencer Murphy’s jockey photographs – all of contemporary riders? The splendid one of a mud-splattered and pissed-off looking Ruby Walsh would have sufficed. And surely there must be images somewhere of past heroes such as Pat Taafe and Pat Eddery? Not to mention Arkle and Nijinsky.

But this is a very democratic horse show. We get more put-upon beasts of burden than preening champions of the racecourse or the show ring. 

John P. O’Sullivan

April 2020

Friday, March 13, 2020

Cheltenham Day 4 (And Day 3 Post-Morten)

Day 3 Post-Mortem

A veritable blood-bath - hopes dashed, profits wiped out, confidence shattered. It started badly with Itchy Feet falling early on and culminated in Penhill pulling up after a couple of flights. But what hurt most was not the horses that lost, it was the one that won without my support. Sire Du Berlais ran an eye-catching trial last month that I took due note of. However, on the day I made the judgement that he had too much weight - 7 lbs more than last year. He duly cruised home at 10-1. For the stifled impulse there is no redemption.

Day 4

I don’t have a position on the Triumph (1.30) - Solo is too short and the Irish/UK form lines are fuzzy. maybe a nibble on Aspire Tower ew.

The County Hurdle is the usual Mullins/Elliott multiple-entry puzzle. I like Henderson’s Elusive Belle each way. He has collateral form with Epatante - and maybe a saver on Oakley.

The Albert Bartlett is tricky. I’d like Latest Exhibition to win but is he quite good enough. A small bet.

And finally the Gold Cup. I think Alboum Photo is a plodder and will be found out. I’m going for Nichol’s Clan Des Obeaux with a saver on Monalee.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Cheltenham Day 3 (and Day 2 Post-Mortem)

Day 2 Post-Mortem

Well as Chaucer puts it “from woe to weal and after out of joy”. Day 2 was a cold douche of reality after the dizzy heights of Tuesday. It started well enough when The Big Getaway fulfilled my ew expectations at 11-1. The winner Envoi Allen was hugely impressive but one of my few abiding principles in life is never to bet odds on. In the RSA Chase I weakened and backed Minella Indo at 7-2 even though I felt it too meager a price. He did everything but win - a bad jump at the last and a freakish burst from Champ deprived him. I tell you now I will be taking him seriously for the Gold Cup next year. He’s a real doughty character. I should know better than to bet in the lottery that is the Coral Hurdle but you have to get involved in the fun so I backed a Henderson horse (Burrows Edge) - sadly the wrong Henderson horse as Dame de Compagnie won. I left the two mile champion chase alone but I know a few folk who suffered badly from the defeat of the absolute dead cert Defi Du Seuil. Tiger Roll performed without my money on him and duly got turned over at odds on by the very fanciable French horse Easyland.

Day 3

The first race will feature the illustrious Faugheen - a great hurdler who at the age of 12 is freakishly making a new career in novice chases. I don’t buy it - and will not be joining the romantics loading on him. It’s a very tricky race with Samcro unpredictable, Melon a mystery, and Itchy Feet the obvious choice. I’ll watch from the wings.

The Pertemps Hurdle is a bit like the Coral but more predictable because it requires real staying power. Elliott has two very fancied horse obviously laid out for it: The Storyteller and Sire du Berlais (who won it last year). They’ll be around but I suspect they both have too much weight. Henry de Bromhead’s Royal Thief is carrying 10 stone 4 and looks an each way prospect at a juicy 33-1. I might have a saver on Welsh Saint at 13-2 (Henderson again).

De Bromhead may win the next race as well with A Plus Tard but 7-4 doesn’t excite me - maybe Frodon at 5-1 is better value - or a reverse forecast on the two.

Everybody of course wants Paisley Park to win the Stayer’s Hurdle for that nice blind man Andrew Gemmell. And perhaps he will but 8-13 is a ludicrous price so I will be looking elsewhere for ew value. Penhill at 11-1 looks a decent bet and that will round of my betting interest for the day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Cheltenham Day 2 (and Day 1 post-Mortem)

Day 1 Post-Mortem

Great start with three winners and a third on Day 1. The highlight was Shishkin winning the Supreme at 6-1 - a surprisingly generous SP. It was a messy race and my e.w. fancy Captain Guinness was going really well when he was brought down by a falling horse. In the second race, the Arkle, I had a small e.w. bet on Put the Kettle On which won well at 16-1. I regretted my caution but felt his stable companion Notebook would win - but at a price that didn’t interest me. Then I had a disaster in the Champion Hurdle where Pentland Hills ran very poorly and Supasundae petered out after looking promising. But in the next race (the Mare’s Hurdle) Honeysuckle did me proud after a very resourceful ride by Rachel Blackmore.

Day 2

The Ballymore Hurdle at 1.30 looks like a gimme for Envoi Allen but he’s too short to interest me so I will do an ew on Mullins’  The Big Getaway - currently at 9-1.

The RSA features my old friend Minella Indo who did me a favour last year at 50-1. He’s only 3-1 for this very competitive chase so I may just watch this. Hope he wins though.

The Coral Cup Handicap is a nightmare with Henderson, Mullins and Elliot all having multiple entries. Life’s too short to tease out all the possibilities so I’m going for Henderson’s Burrows Edge at 16-1 on the grounds that he’s the stable jockey’s choice, he carries a modest weight, and Henderson excels at these handicap hurdles.

I really, really fancied Altior for the Champion Chase at 3.30 but he’s been withdrawn with an injury so I’m sulking and not having a bet. It’s hard to separate Defi Du Seuil and Chacon Pour Soi anyway.

All romantics want Tiger Roll to win the Cross Country Chase but I won’t be touching him at odds on. He should of course win.

Wednesday is a less engaging day for me with nothing I feel too passionate about. I will be content not to engage heavily with the betting side and just enjoy the racing.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Cheltenham Day 1: It may seem frivolous but...

In these dark days,  as the apocalypse approaches, it may seem frivolous but I am looking forward to Day 1 of Cheltenham. Isolated and wind-blown in my rural fastness in extreme Connemara I am comforted by the presence of my dog, a most reliable WiFi signal, and the prospect of four days of the best race meeting in the universe. I was dreading a postponement but as of now (19.40 on Monday) we’re certainly going to get Day 1 and that’s always my favourite day. I become sated, or sometimes broke, as the week progresses.

We start with the Supreme Novices Hurdle - a race that’s been very good to me over the years and I will feel mightily affronted if it fails to deliver this year. But it’s complicated. My old classmate Joe Donnelly has the first and second favourites, Shishkin and Asterion Forlonge. The first trained by Nicky Henderson and the other by Willie Mullins. How to separate them? I think I’ll back them both and do them in a reverse forecast - so if you see those black and yellow colours heading towards the last together don’t say I didn’t tell you. For those who like an each way bet at good odds I like the look of Captain Guinness at 16-1. He’s trained by Henry de Bromhead whose runners always exceed themselves at Cheltenham.

The Arkle at 2.10 could go to De Bromhead’s Notebook but I don’t like backing horses in chases at short odds so while I may include him in multiples I’ll eschew a big bet. De Bromhead also has an outsider here Put the Kettle on that may run into a place.

The Ultima at 2.50 is a handicap chase that I shall steer clear of except for a nibble on Discorama on the horses for course theory - although his form since last spring has been disappointing.

The Champion Hurdle at 3.30 is one of the weakest in terms of quality that I can remember. And that makes it very interesting. Pentland Hills could be the new Harchibald (finds nothing late on after looking all over the winner) but I think he has the class to beat this lot. We all know Jessica Harrington’s Supasundae is a two and half mile horse but with a poor field and a stiff finish you never know.

The Mare’s Hurdle is a two horse race between Benie Des Dieux and Honeysuckle. We all know Benie was unbeatable last year - until he fell at the last. I think that Honeysuckle will do him this year. The latter was being considered for the Champion Hurdle and his trainer (De Bromhead again) sees this as more winnable.

The last two races are novice chases and I shall be avoiding them like I’m avoiding Covid 19 on the road between Clifden and Claddaghduff..

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Dying Young in Letterfrack: From the Gloucester Diamond to Diamond Hill

It was a glorious day today in Connemara so I ceased my scribbling early and took myself and Missy out for a walk. I’m only 9 Kms from Letterfrack so I decided to check out the infamous St. Joseph’s Industrial School graveyard. It’s not easy to find – the honest burghers of Letterfrack have not deigned to signpost their best known feature. History suggests that the town’s people often returned escaping children to their captors. I ended up in Toorena Graveyard near Renvyle – a perfectly good spot with gorgeous views but not what I was looking for. I succumbed to Google Maps and typed in GMIT. I knew GMIT had a college in Letterfrack (specializing in furniture design) that had taken over the space occupied by the old industrial school.  I could have headed for St. Joseph’s church – had I known it existed as Google retook me straight to the church car park. I parked and walked the few yards up the hill to the graveyard, with Missy in tow. A stark notice on a pillar informed me I was there: Letterfrack Industrial School Graveyard. An uneven path through a very scraggly, misshapen wood led to an area enclosed with a low wall. By the gate there were a couple of poems by Paula Meehan etched on wood: The Boys from the Gloucester Diamond and the Cardboard Suitcase - fine moving pieces (“We cursed those cold, black-robed men”).. The Gloucester Diamond was a slum area near Summerhill in Dublin from where many of the boys would have come. I’m sure many of the boys would have looked through the windows of their prison at Diamond Hill (a shapely peak looming over Letterfrack) and wished they were instead looking out their tenement windows at the Gloucester Diamond.

The graveyard covers a small area bisected by a path – less than half the size of a soccer pitch. Initially the boys buried there had only a small stone slab marking the spot but the Joseph Pike Research Group (a group seeking justice for victims of abuse in industrial schools) has affixed a rather kitschy heart-shaped slab to each with the name, date of death and age of the boy. There are Kellys and Dunnes, a Gill and two Hastings. The ages range from 8 to 18. A cross, erected at one end by the Christian Brothers in 1969 contains the rather mealy-mouthed message: “You are all remembered by the brothers, lay staff and pupils of St. Joseph’s.”  No hint of remorse there - but I suppose 1969 was before the floodgates opened. I notice the slab on the base of the cross has a large diagonal crack. Perhaps some past pupil was affronted by the blandness of the message and took violent action. Around the cross and elsewhere in the graveyard there are scattered toys that we’d associate with boys: footballs, racing cars, tractors and even a small helicopter. There are also an inordinate number of small sneakers hanging off railings and scattered about generally.

It’s a poignant, understated memorial to a particularly horrific episode in Irish history. Our brave new state, mostly fronted by the priest-loving De Valera handed responsibility for our children’s education and for dealing with young miscreants to a collection of sex-starved celibates who when they weren’t sublimating their urges in violence were satisfying it perversely on children. I only encountered the more genteel Christian Brothers in CBC in Cork (apparently Letterfrack was where  they sent the more abusive brethren)  and was never sexually abused. However myself and many of my classmates were beaten daily. Those were brutish times.

Myself and Missy returned to our car much chastened. I’ll have to bring her chasing rabbits on Omey Island tomorrow. If you’re touring Connemara this summer drop in and pay your respects.