Celtic Illumination, part 58, Just the good ole boys, never meaning no harm
The Rendezvous Inn in Warrenpoint would have been heaving with bodies on a Friday and Saturday night. It would also be open at almost any time of the day or night. We would visit the Rendezvous to link up with others or find out where they were. Occasionally we would zoom off into the nearby towns and villages, if there was a function on. I remember once being at a dance in Hilltown. At the end of the evening they were playing the Irish national anthem and I had to hold Phelim up as he was so drunk he couldn’t stand. I knew if I wasn’t successful we wouldn’t have left that dance hall in one piece. I managed to keep him upright and then carried him outside where I put him in the driving seat of his car.
Poor Phelim was normally drunk for most of his free time. I think the car operated on auto pilot for neither of us would have been sober. Despite the fact that we could stay all night long in the Rendezvous we would sometimes pile out at eleven o clock, the standard closing time, and load into cars aiming for last orders in Dundalk. In Dundalk the hotel bars wouldn’t close until midnight.
We would break every speed limit on the way there, consume even more beer and then point the cars at the border crossing and try to get home. Between Dundalk and the border crossing was a Gardaí station. There was always an old blue Cortina sitting pointing at the border. We would see the Gardaí as we entered the straight, leading up to their station, and accelerate hard. As we flew past them they would attempt to start their car, or even get back into it and follow us, but more than often they gave up and ignored us. We were so daft, for not only were we drunk driving, we were speeding toward a border crossing that was overflowing with soldiers, armed to the teeth, and who were also a little bit nervous and some say, trigger happy.
I’m not making light of it, well; I am, but I am not a supporter of drunk driving. Even Phelim grew out of that phase. One evening Peter and he were so drunk they could hardly walk. They left the Rendezvous and managed to make it to their car. Phelim was driving. Off they went and managed to put the car into the front of someone’s house. Peter went through the windscreen and Phelim lost an eye.
I went to the courthouse in Newry with them when this case was being heard. The solicitor pleaded with the judge that Phelim needed his license for his job and a ban would harm him immensely. The judge ordered that Phelim would lose his license but that he could get a new license by retaking his driving test again. We left the court house and adjourned to the bar next door. Phelim mused over the court finding and considered the impact having such a serious annotation on his licence would have on him.
“Come on” says he, swilling down the remainder of his beer. “We’re off to Downpatrick to get a new license.”
We drove to Downpatrick and Phelim, claiming that his old license had been lost, was issued with a new one.
A month or two later I was sitting with them and they were complaining that they had no money. Peter came up with the great idea that he should sue Phelim for personal injury and they could split the money he would be awarded for the scarring on his face, from going through the windscreen. Phelim thought it was a great idea although haggling over the exact split of the award did ensue.
As for the car, which was a Ford Cortina, mark 2, I understand that the pair of them went to Belfast and acquired a similar model. They brought it back to Warrenpoint where the relevant numbers were changed and the car presented as having been rebuilt from the write off in the crash. Again the money was split between the pair of them and the old car, the actual vehicle that had been written off, is at the bottom of a certain body of water near Burren.
I suppose to say that much of the culture that influenced rural living in Ireland would have been American, especially country and Western. As such cars and vans and trucks were adorned with bull bars, crazy air horns but especially lamps, or as we would call them spot lights. One income stream for Phelim and Peter would be to stay off the drink, I know, a huge effort for them, and visit hotels and pub car parks while a function was being held.
Any mechanic, worth his salt, would have a few tools knocking about in the boot of his own car so Phelim and Peter were well equipped to relieve cars and truck and vans of their newly acquired adornments. They had me keep watch one night when they removed spot lights from a row of cars outside the Great Northern Hotel in Rostrevor.
Why, you may ask, would a future world leading Master Candle maker, High Chief of the clan O Neill and the King of Ireland admit that he had been a part of such activities? Well; I need to prove to the people of Ireland that I have experienced a broad range of the different levels of society in Ireland. I’ve snogged with presidents, danced with Dana, slept with priests, so why shouldn’t I experience the sharper side of life in Ireland. And as for Phelim and Peter, I would refer to the first line of the title song from the Duke of Hazzard. “Just the good ole boys, never meaning no harm.”