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Beautiful Days

Martin McGuinness is dead.

Of his life, others can comment with more knowledge; years gone by when we went to visit Olivia at Clonegal Castle, she was ordaining a new priestess of Brigid, and this new priestess, it was whispered, had connections to Mr McGuinness himself. What they were I never knew, and my accent alone ensured folk didn't say much of such things in front of me. Olivia wouldn't have cared even if she was aware. The irony of her jolly indifference, in the wake of her family's past as Anglo-Irish Protestant aristocracy who had hung Catholic Jacobites from the trees in the driveway, escaped her entirely.

But one person spoke something of it to me. He was a sad eyed man in polyester/crimplene trousers. 'That's Oscar,' someone said and then went on to inform me that he had been in the IRA, again had something to do with the priestess and McGuinness, and had been tortured by British police. 'Don't get sentimental about people like this,' my companion said to me, 'Think of what they've done...' She tried hard to avoid him, as did I, simply by dint of wishing to keep my accidental association with any friends of Martin McGuinness as non-existent as possible, quietly cursing Olivia for never judging anyone on anything.

Oscar however, wasn't having it. He caught up with me and spoke for a while.I can't recall what he said beyond the day in his youth he saw graffiti on a wall reading 'IRA I Ran Away.' Who he knew and what he did, I can never know. My recollection is of looking at his eyes and believing he had been tortured. I was staring at the pain that doesn't leave, and even as a right fool, recognised it and let him talk, knowing that it is wrong for anyone to torture, even if it's Us. Especially if it's Us.

The day came for my companion and I to return to Dublin airport; we got to the bus stop in time to learn that the daily bus had come and gone, nor were there any taxis to be had. Oscar, in some junked up little car came to our rescue, and much to my companion's mortification the only option was his car or missing the plane. So he took us to the city passing by Bono's house,and entertained us all the way there.

'He had an eye for you,' my friend said, once we were in the airport, 'Probably thought you were an easy target for sympathy. If they tortured him,it won't have been for nothing.'

I didn't say anything. It had been so magical this time at the castle, like being close to fairyland, like Narnia; or going down to the river and watching the swans' nesting beyond the wildflowers of the bank.
And I wished Oscar didn't hurt anyone and no-one hurt him; that people just let each other be and enjoyed beautiful days.



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