Dreams have a way of communicating with our conscious mind by means of metaphors, puns and symbols. This "Young Owner" was a powerful symbol. Symbols say an awful lot in a single image.
The Young Owner symbolTo me and my brother, the fact that he was the Young Owner left a question over who was the real owner. Was it the Old Owner, the young owner's father, who still, perhaps, exercised ultimate control?
Real life is like that. We frequently deal with people who exercise authority, but they are not the ultimate power, but merely the face of power.
Again "pub owner" has a synonym in "landlord." My brother and I spring from a peasant stock, to whom "landlord" represented a different class, an upper class, protestant and unionist as against the Catholic, nationalist peasants. When Ireland became independent the landlord class became in effect a disenfranchised minority within the Republic.
There were other factions too in the Republic. When I went down the country as a child, I thought I was living in a homogeneous society being welcome in every house. As I grew older, I grew aware of intimations of unexpressed difference. People had different political allegiances, which grew out of generations-old conflicts, in which grudges were silently nurtured. Neighbours had been on different sides in the Civil War (1922 to 1923) and even in the War of Independence (1918 to 1922). Some had stayed on the fence and still bore the disrespect of their activist neighbours, both sides passing the slur on to their families. Differences even stretched back to the 19th century, and the Land War, when the population was far from united in opposition to the landlords. From one point of view, the landlords were exploiters, but from another point of view, they were providers of employment. Many peasants saw the Land League as disorderly disrupters and destroyers of society. Since the Civil War, the differences continued in the choice of political party to support, each side displaying bitterness towards the other side. Members of the community who became Communist were buried outside of the Catholic burial ground.
The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) was an armed police force recruited from the Irish population. In 1918, they became part of the English enemy to be fought, and, in many cases, passed on the "law and order" mentality to their descendants.
I have a childhood memory: I was in my uncle Rody's house, sitting by the window. My father was somewhere else. My mother had taken the baby for a walk and my brothers had gone with her. My little sister, Mary, was playing in the farmyard, and Rody was in the barn. Along came a motor-car. The window wound down, and a voice with a non-Irish accent asked Mary if this was Rody Killeen's house. Rody came from the barn into the house, took a shot-gun from the back room, and walked out the door, fixing cartridges into the gun. He pointed the gun at the driver of the car and said: "Get the hell out of here, and don't ever come back or I'll fill you full of lead." The car moved off.
Telling the tale to my mother, she asked what accent had they got. I said I thought they sounded like Australians. But, at that time, I thought an English accent was that on the BBC and I had heard American accents from returned Yanks. In retrospect, I guess the accent was London. And who could the occupants of the car be but my cousins, the sons of Uncle John, who I had never met, who had been thrown out by my grand-father, who had joined the RIC and been a captain in that force in 1918, and who had left Ireland to join the London Metropolitan Police in 1922, and had been left one shilling in grandfather's Will? (Well, maybe I am totally wrong: maybe they were known conmen). Uncle Rody made no comment at the time and never spoke of the matter afterwards. My family thought it was all in my immagination, but my sister Mary also remembers it.
The Civil War was not just a fight between two political factions. Many of those who took up the gun during the Civil War were not true patriots, but opportunists who took up the opportunity for robbery and mayhem - and were subsequently rewarded with IRA pensions, facts silently resented by others.
Again, the ideal of an Irish-speaking Ireland in the minds of the architects of our independent state, was not shared by a large minority of the population, on whose children the Irish Language was imposed by the schools.
Of course, too, there are the Irish travellers, inheritors of a different culture that dates back to the mesolithic (middle stone age) era.
So, the idealistic image of a culturally homogeneous Ireland I was given in school was never actually real.
All these intimations were present in the simple grouping of my brother and me talking to the Young Owner. Indeed, in our actual persons we also represent this difference. My brother and I had been educated by the Christian Brothers and the Young Owner by the Jesuits. In Ireland, the Christian Brothers are seen as educating the working class, while the Jesuits have a middle and upper class catchment. Many Christian Brother pupils who get on well in life, in their turn, send their children to Jesuit schools, representing another wound to the homogeneous image: shifting class and political allegiances.
The ConversationThe above discussion sets the scene, painted in one instant in the dream, for the conversation that took place in the pub. This did not stay between brothers and Young Owner, but drew in others seated away from us. As you might expect, the conversation ranged over the current themes in the News: the Scottish Referundum on Independence, the crisis in the Ukraine, the Israeli/ Palestinian question, the War in Siria and the "Islamic Militants" question.
Into this I threw in the shocking remark: "I don't think the Irish Nation exists any more. There is only the Irish Diaspora."
I guess the main purpose of the dream was to deliver this insight of my subconscious mind to my conscious self.
The idea of a Catholic, Irish-speaking or wishfully Gaelic, nation-state can't be valid, given the large numbers of foreign nationals and minority groups in the country. The Christian Brothers school where I was educated in a homogeneous environment now has a mainly immigrant population, speaking around 50 different native languages. Even the present pub had immigrants among the customers. However, the Irish Diaspora, spread around the globe, is a real, enduring ethnic group.
"The countries of the world," I said, "Need to move towards a new constitution, like the arrangement in Northern Ireland, where all the different factions and ethnic groups are represented in the government." This idea has, of course, already found expression in Iraq as well as Northern Ireland. It needs to be applied in the Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and, indeed, in Israel, where the government should not be exclusively Jewish, but contain representatives of the Arab and Christian communities.
Should the YES side win in the Scottish Referendum, what is the implication for the European Union, and separatist regions in other European countries, such as Catalonia in Spain, the Basque region in France/ Spain, Flanders in Belgium, and other regions in all the countries?
Besides multiple cultural differences, there is also a new uniformity emerging: multi-cultured society, but with an underlying common morality, expressed, for example, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Amid all the national differences, there is a new world-leadership emerging, at present in the person of Barack Obama, but, ultimately, in a real president of the United Nations.
Amazingly, Obama appears to be the realisation of an old Persian prophesy that "According to the tradition, Imam Ali Ibn Abi-Talib (the prophet’s cousin and son-in-law) prophesied that at the End of Times and just before the return of the Mahdi, the Ultimate Saviour, a “tall black man will assume the reins of government in the West.” Commanding “the strongest army on earth,” the new ruler in the West will carry “a clear sign” from the third imam, whose name was Hussein Ibn Ali. The tradition concludes: “Shiites should have no doubt that he is with us.” See: http://www.forbes.com/2008/10/26/obama-iran-ahmadinejad-oped-cx_at_1026taheri.html
In a curious coincidence Obama’s first and second names – Barack Hussein – mean “the blessing of Hussein” in Arabic and Persian. His family name, Obama, written in the Persian alphabet, reads O Ba Ma, which means “he is with us,” the magic formula in Majlisi’s tradition.When Obama was elected leader of the USA, there was little likelihood that he would emerge as leader of the Arab world, yet here he is in 2014, heading up a coalition of Arab States against the abomination of ISIS - as well as downfacing the Beast, Putin, in the Ukraine.
In some strange way, a few words spoken in a dream carry volumes of meaning.
The TuneI regretted having thrown my tuppence-ha'penny into the conversation, because now I keep getting drawn back in to defend my outrageous suggestion against the sneers and invective of the other pub customers.
I have my tin whistle with me and am actually here to play a few tunes. I am composing a new tune in my head which I am most anxious to play, but I can't bring it together because of the constant distraction of the conversation. The title of the tune would be "The Ulster Constitution."
It is, indeed, a lovely tune, but every time I try to run over it, it descends into a suggestive old balad, "The German Clock-winder."
O wife Mary Ann, o wife Mary Ann,
Why did you take in such an innocent man?
He wound up your clock and left mine on the shelf;
If your old clock needs winding, I'll wind it myself.I can't get the new tune together, so, when the Young Owner calls shush for the tin-whistler, the tune I play instead is "Rosheen Duv." This is a beautiful love-song, but converted to a patriotic song and hackneyed in Ireland since Seán Ó Riada made it a theme tune in George Morrisson's film Mise Eire [DVD] , launched in 1959, about the Irish independence movement. In some way I felt I was letting myself down, that the tune played failed to express the emotion I meant to express in my new tune.
The AwakeningWaking up next morning, I was surprised to hear, in the radio news, that Ian Paisley had just died.
Recalling my dream, I tried to recall the tune I was trying to compose in the dream. I could only figure out that the tune was somewhat like Ruaidhri Dall O Cathain's song "Tabhair dom do lámh," i.e., "Give me your hand," a song of friendship and reconciliation. Indeed, while Ian Paisley was responsible for stirring up sectarian hatred in Northern Ireland, his ultimate crown was joining in the cross-sectoral government arising from the Peace Process and his iconic hand-shaking with Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland.
Rosheen Duv had given the nationalist signal rather than the peace signal.