Patsy stood at the bottom of the hill, shaking his head
in disbelief as he surveyed the scene of devastation before
him. He scratched the bald patch under his cap and cursed
at the sense of it all.
"Jasus, I don't know," he said to nobody in particular.
"Have these boys nothin' better to be doin' with themselves
than blowin' a man's drinking establishment to hell, whaa?"
Sure wasn't it only after being re-built and it not a year
since the last time it was blew up! But sure ye never knew
how these things worked or what went on. The rumours were
already doin' the rounds: it was an insurance job; he had
been servin' cops; wouldn't pay protection - the usual stuff.
Anyway, thought Patsy, there was no use cryin' over spilt
beer. About these parts a wise man didn't question such
things, well not openly anyway. Heaney had called him that
morning saying the club was after being bombed again and
he needed a man down to help him secure the place before
the looters got at it, like the last time.
Patsy shrugged his shoulders, dug his hands into the pockets
of his jacket and strode disconsolately up the steep hill
of the car park to where the remains of the 'club' lay.
He sighed and rubbed his chin as he assessed the damage.
Well, he supposed, the 'Foresters' would have to do him
for a while now, and anyway sure wouldn't the day's work
pay for a few drinks later. Every bomb has a silver lining.
The club straddled the side of a hill, below it ran the
main Forkhill road and beyond this rose Slieve Gullion,
its ominous presence framing the scenic beauty of the South
Armagh countryside. The clear stillness of the early morning
air belied the malicious violence of a few hours earlier.
Patsy had lived in these hills all of his sixty odd years
and while he regretted this inconvenience, he bore it with
the stoic indifference of a man who had seen worse; he understood
the flow of the seasons and the passing of things.
He chatted a while with Heaney and made his way over to
the remains. The explosion had blown out the side walls
and the two storey structure had collapsed in on itself.
However, as he stumbled among the debris he noticed a corner
of the front bar still protruding from the wreckage.
Gingerly he clambered over to investigate the carcass.
The bulk of the long wooden structure was buried under tons
of concrete and collapsed roof beams, but this wee section,
now exposed to the elements, was basically still intact.
He cleared the worst of the rubble and fragments of glass
from the counter. As he did so he discovered the remains
of a few bar taps all broken and twisted. Patsy paused for
a moment and, as if by instinct, reached over the dusty
bar and tried pulling on the distorted levers. To his surprise
and delight he found that the Guinness tap was still working.
Patsy stepped back and scratched the back of his head under
his cap as he pondered the implications of this discovery.
A brief glance around revealed that nobody was about. Then
he spied the legs of an upturned bar stool sticking out
from a pile of bricks. Patsy pulled it free, cleared a small
space in front of the bar and placed it down. Broken glass
was strewn everywhere, but as luck would have it, he was
able to retrieve an unbroken but dirt-encrusted pint glass.
A few spits and a quick rub with his handkerchief rendered
it usable. After another furtive check over his shoulder,
Patsy leaned over and proceeded to pour himself a pint.
Sitting back on that stool, in the open air, surrounded
by the shattered remnants of his beloved club, Patsy gazed
out on the distant visage of the misty Mourne mountains
and sipped contentedly. Later he would declare to bemused
friends, "I tell ye, I never enjoyed a pint as much
as that one I had the morning the club was blew up."