Friday, January 30, 2015

Review: Deadly Confederacies and other stories

Deadly Confederacies and other stories. Martin Malone. Short Stories.

It's a truism that in writing you should write from where you know, writes Brian Byrne. And since I come from the same county as Martin Malone, and also have known him for years, I can relate to many reflections of Kildare and its people in these stories. But there are also many set in the parts of north Africa and the Middle East where Malone served with Irish peacekeeping forces during his army career. These do not echo any part of my own background, and therefore perhaps I was able to read them with more objectivity.

You could read this collection as a sort of chronology in a couple of ways. I had the sense that the stories run in a sequence from when they were written, as they certainly matured from the first through the last. Or they might represent the author's probing of life through ages, as the early ones recall boyhood, the latter peruse old age. As far as I can recall, all are written in the first person, but the narrator's name changes in most. A couple have the same first person, in sequel.

There's a familiar one halfway through — the story that became the first chapter of Malone's rivetting novel 'The Valley of the Peacock Angel'. I understand this, a short story that stands perfectly well on its own but which eventually insists that it be allowed to become something more.

These are good stories. Some very good, as any collection will have its favourites. On the whole they are not happy ones. Nothing wrong with that, life is as we see it, and none of us live in the proverbial bed of roses, which anyhow has its own nasty thorns. But 'Confederacies' is often bedded in clumps of nettles, and Malone is not afraid to show the welts and bruises, and worse, we sometimes inflict on ourselves and on each other. It is life, and injury, and death, in raw and naked, and sometimes unfinished states.

In fairness, when I'd read the first couple of stories soon after buying the book, I wasn't inclined to rush to the rest. As it was an e-book, I left it for picking up on my Kindle app at another time, in a different humour. But when I did get back into the collection just recently, it became quite addictive, and I finished it in a very few sessions.

Being a writer myself, I don't try and analyse an author's own personality and history through the stories he or she writes. But anyone who does will have an interesting time with this collection. Even if any conclusions are probably well off the mark. You may well, though, get the feeling that Martin Malone has been never more comfortable than when he was a peacekeeper. In his picking out details of the life he and his comrades had, or in working through the characteristics of the local people with whom he obviously established a strong rapport.

Whether delving into subjects from home or abroad, personal or public, far past or fairly present, Martin Malone shows in this collection the same kind of understanding of the human condition that underpins his considerable body of work to date, in print, on radio and on the stage.

And the good thing, I believe he still has a lot more to say.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Friday night is GAA registration

Friday night, 30 January, is Seniors and Juniors registration night for Kilcullen GAA.

All club fees for 2015 are due, adults €70, juveniles and students €35, a family membership €135 and OAP and life members €30.

All players have to be registered to be able play/train as they need to be insured. All mentors/managers/committee members have to be paid up club members.

Registration will start at 8.30pm, or contact Albert Keenan 087 216 8045 or Jacinta Sully 087 668 9028 to register if you can't make it on the night.

Kilcullen GAA supports Ballymore MOTY contender

Billy Loughlin is running for Ballymore man of the year, writes Jim Buckley, chairman of Kilcullen GAA.

Last year we first asked Billy to help prepare two of our juvenile teams. Billy taught us a whole new way of looking at preparation, especially strength, conditioning and flexibility. Not only is Billy very knowledgeable but he has a fantastic way with the kids who he trains and they enjoy it so much they all want to go back to him again even though the training can be very tough.

Billy is a great asset to any community as he has a good understanding not only how to train but also how to motivate. I have no hesitation in expressing our club's support for Billy Loughlin.

Pat Coldrick back in the BAG

Next Monday sees the welcome return of Pat Coldrick — classical guitarist, and composer, writes Roy Thompson of the Ballymore Acoustic Gigs.

Pat is, without doubt, one of the best guitarists in the country, and a wonderful live performer. Combining classical guitar standards, contemporary pieces, and superb original compositions, Pat Coldrick's live show is a true joy to behold. Highly recommended — don't miss it!

More details, videos, etc here.

Doors 8.30pm, though Pat usually plays to 'warm up' from about 8pm - we call it the 'pre-show show'! The gig, 'proper' will start at 9.15pm

Spread the word, and come on out!

Pest control work ongoing at Pinkeen

Pest control contractors carried out an initial treatment in the Pinkeen Stream area last week to begin elimination of the rats problem there, writes Brian Byrne.

Complete Pest Control, working on behalf of Kildare County Council, will also be back on site this week to install bait traps, according to Simon Wallace, Parks Superintendent with KCC.

"They will continue to monitor and bait the site for the next three months and the situation will then be reviewed," Mr Wallace says. "I cannot give an estimate as to when the situation will be resolved as this will depend on the uptake of the bait."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

'No rats in playground' — KCA

No rats have been observed in the Kilcullen Community Playground, according to Kilcullen Community Action, writes Brian Byrne.

KCA looks after the facility on behalf of Kildare Community Council. A spokesperson also said that no request has been made to have the playground closed.

This was in response to comments on Facebook in relation to the current concerns about the rats infestation in Pinkeen Stream, which runs on the Kilcullen Community Centre property opposite the playground.

The matter was raised by parents two weeks ago, and Kildare County Council subsequently said it would arrange widespread baiting to deal with the problem.

The Council also noted that control of vermin in the area was also a responsibility of the owners of the property through which the stream runs. There has been no comment on this by the management of Kilcullen Community Centre.

The Diary understands that a representative of Rentokill pest control company has already appraised the situation. However, parents of children who use the area have this week expressed frustration at the apparent no change in the problem.

"It's getting very frustrating for everyone," says Riggy Reid, the parent who first raised the issue publicly two weeks ago. "There were 11 rats there on Saturday morning when I was walking my kids down to the Library. A car stopped and beeped the horn at them, and they scattered everywhere."