Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Trainee Fairies

In the forests of Ireland there are lots and lots of magic creatures, the loveliest of which are the fairies. They have wonderful shimmering clothes and fantastic wings which twinkle with all the colours of the rainbow. The funny thing about Irish Forest Fairies is that they are not born with their wings they have to grow into them. Fairies with no wings are called Trainee Fairies. This is the story of two super cute trainee fairies called Daisy and Darcy.

Daisy and Darcy are sisters with Darcy being a couple of years older. They are the very best of friends and are always having adventures. One day the sisters were wandering through a sunny glade using bluebell flowers as sun umbrellas, a bird flew over their heads twittering a cheery song.

"Look at how fast he is Daisy," said Darcy admiring the way the little bird swooped through the air.
"I can't wait until we get our wings and we can fly just like that," said Daisy. The trainee fairies watched the bird until it vanished behind a fluffy white cloud.
"When do you think we will get our wings?" asked Daisy.
"Not for a long time yet," said Darcy sadly.
"I wish there was some way I could fly now," said Daisy with a little tear in the corner of her eye. Darcy never liked seeing her little sister sad, so she searched her brain.
"I have and idea," said Darcy taking Daisy by the hand and running back to the fairy village hidden at the base of a moss covered oak tree in the very middle of the forest.

The two trainee fairies worked hard all morning and when they were finished they had built a huge kite, bigger even than Darcy. The kite had a long string and a tail with lots and lots of coloured ribbons that would flutter in the wind.
"Are you sure this will work?" asked Daisy looking worried.
"It is sure to work with the help of Pimple," said Darcy dancing a gig of delight. Pimple was a brown rabbit with black ears that loved playing with the two young fairies. They gathered up the kite and ran off in search of the friendly bunny. They found Pimple sitting in a field chewing sweet summer clover.

"Hello Darcy, Hello Daisy," said Pimple through a mouthful of clover wagging his fluffy white tail with delight.
"Hi Pimple, we have been looking for you everywhere," said Daisy.
"You should have started here in that case," said Pimple twitching his whiskers. "This meadow has the best clover in the whole forest."
"Look what we have," said Darcy showing Pimple the kite they had made.
"Oh my, that's a huge kite for such tiny fairies."
"We know, that is why we need your help to get it up in the air." Pimple was delighted to help his favourite fairies and agreed immediately. Soon they had the string unrolled and Daisy was holding the kite firmly in her hands.
"Okay Daisy,  I'll climb on Pimples back and hold the end of the string. You run as fast as you can and remember what ever happens don't let go."

"Are you ready?" shouted Darcy when she was sitting on Pimple's back.
"Ready," said Daisy giving a thumbs up for good measure. Pimple ran across the grass as fast as lightening and the kite shot high into the sky carrying a giggling Daisy with it.
"She's flying," cried Darcy in delight as the kite went higher and higher. Pimple wanted to see too so he looked over his shoulder, that was a mistake. Pimple didn't see the rock and stubbed his foot causing Darcy to loose hold of the string.

"Daisy," cried Darcy and the kite flew away on the breeze deeper into the forest. "Quick Pimple we have to follow her," said Darcy jumping on the bunny's back once more, racing after the kite. It wasn't long before the wind died down and the kite glided lower. Darcy and Pimple lost sight of it in the trees. They searched and searched for Daisy and the kite but couldn't find her anywhere. Darcy was so very worried she began to cry.
"Don't cry, Darcy. Wait here, I'll go get some help," said Pimple hopping away into the bushes. A few minutes later Pimple was back but he wasn't alone. From all corners of the forest birds and woodland creatures began to gather. Pimple explained what had happened and everyone split up to search for Daisy.

It only took ten minutes for a sparrow to find Daisy stuck high in a Ash tree still holding on the the kite. Everyone gathered at the base of the tree. The birds could fly up to Daisy but had no hands to carry her to the ground. They needed a plan. It was a wise old owl that suggested making a big pile of leaves so Daisy could drop into them. All the birds in the forest began collecting leaves and dropping them at the base of the Ash tree. Soon the pile of leaves was much higher than both Pimple and Darcy combined.

"Jump Daisy," shouted Darcy.
"It's too far," cried Daisy.
"You'll be fine, trust me."
 Daisy closed her eyes and let her little fingers uncurl. She dropped to the ground sending a fountain of leaves up into the air.
"Are you okay," said Darcy digging through the leaves trying to find her sister. That was when Daisy's head popped up looking delighted.
"That was great, lets do it again," said Daisy hugging her sister. The two trainee fairies rolled around in the leaves giggling with laughter while all the birds sang songs of delight.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Paddy Quinn

Visitors to my little bar find the old photos dotted around the place very interesting. This one sits high on the wall, in a battered old frame. It’s a favourite of mine, with a story to boot. The tall figure on the left is, Paddy Quinn, a local legend. The other legend in this photo is his horse, Snowflake.

Paddy was a dray man. Six days a week, himself and Snowflake would wander the highways and bye-ways, delivering goods dropped at the train station by the coal train from Cork. You would be hard pushed to find someone that would say Paddy was lazy. Hail, rain, sleet or snow, Paddy never missed a day’s work. He still had flaws. Like many men of his day, he had a gruff manner and an endless thirst for whisky.

Each evening, when the last delivery was made, he drew to a halt outside this very bar. Snowflake would stand quietly in the tines of his cart while Paddy went shopping for Mrs Quinn. Both the Quinns’ were creatures of habit. Invariably, Paddy would return with a brown parcel tucked under his arm, tied with hairy twine. Inside it you would find: a fresh loaf of bread, six hen eggs, half a pound of green ham, a packet of Goldgrain biscuits, and an ounce of pipe tobacco. Paddy's weakness was liquor, for Mrs Quinn, it was her pipe.

Paddy dropped the package on the back of the cart and gave Snowflake a pat on the rump. "On you go lad," he’d say, and his horse would clop away home while Paddy took his place at the bar, where his picture now hangs. He would tip cup to lip for the rest of the night, arguing with anyone foolish enough to talk to him. A little before closing, the clip clop of Snowflake could be heard on the road outside, and Paddy would stagger out the door.

One particularly memorable night, closing time came with no sign of Paddy's lift. It was a frosty one, so he remained at the bar and had more than one for the road. The barman had the place cleaned, and stocked, ready to lock, but Paddy was still propped against the bar, looking into his empty tumbler and mumbling to no one in particular.

"Come on, Mr Quinn, you'll have to wait outside," the barman said, putting on his coat. Paddy took a mighty wobble as he tried to dismount the high stool.

"Woah there, let me give you a hand," said the barman, taking him by the arm just in time.

"Sushhsr I'm jussst grand," Paddy said, lying heavily on the barman's shoulder. Mr Quinn's head wanted to go one way but his feet insisted on going the other. The two men struggled through the door, sideways, like a crab, but the street was still empty. Where could Snowball be? Just then, a young guard, fresh out of the training college, rounded the corner twirling his baton jauntily.

"What's going on here?" the young guard inquired as he got closer.

"Mr Quinn's waiting on his lift," said the barman.

"It's a bit late for that! Closing time was ages ago."

"Snowflake will be on in a minute…I'm sure."


"Yep, Snowflake."

"Are you taking the piss out of me lad?" said the Guard, puffing out his chest.

"Not at all, here he comes now."

The frozen air was filled with the sound of metal on cobbles. In the darkness, a tendril of mist swirled and broke upon the movement of a ghostly figure. A lighter shade of black appeared and advanced on them with dreadful menace, until, in a puff of warm breath, Snowflake arrived. The young guard stared disbelievingly as the horse pulled to a stop in front of the bar.

On this night, the cart wasn't empty. Held down with a rock was a tattered bit of paper. The barman helped Mr Quinn aboard, where he promptly flopped backwards like a landed haddock. The barman retrieved the piece of paper from under Mr Quinn's shoulder. On it in a childlike scrawl was, "Bring fags, you forgot tobacco." The barman was buggered if he was opening up to get Mr Quinn tobacco, nor was he going to search the man’s pockets for the price of them because surely the bloody guard would arrest him for robbery. Instead, he searched his own pockets and found a half packet of Woodbines. He walked up to Snowflakes’ head, taking him by the halter and turning him around. When the horse was facing the right way, the barman pushed the packet of cigarettes between the horse’s bridle and his neck. The young Guard could hardly believe his eyes. One man snoring and farting, as drunk as a lord while the other was giving a horse cigarettes. What kind of a town had he come to at all?

"You can't let him drive, he's drunk," the Guard said.

"True enough officer," said the barman, standing back from the cart just as the prone Mr Quinn levered himself upright and slapped Snowflake on the rump. "But Snowflake's sober."

The young guard could do nothing but watch the horse clip-clop happily into the darkness and Mr Quinn left a rasping fart fly in farewell.