Reflecting on 25 years of column writing for Kilkenny People
This column is 25 years old this January (the 20th to be precise: 20-01-2020 if you like numbers).
Twenty-five years is a lot of writing, a lot of words, a lot of ‘lies’ as some people tell me (jokingly, of course – I hope) and a lot of humour according to others who say: ‘Gerry, you give me a laugh.’.
The column started with a phone call from John Kerry Keane, the then editor, and owner of the Kilkenny People.
‘Would I care to meet for a coffee?’
We met in Bollard’s Pub, along with Seán Hurley (chief reporter and subsequent editor of the paper).
To cut a not so long coffee chat short – J.K. Keane wondered if I would write a column for the paper. I certainly would.
‘A TV column?’ he suggested.
‘What about letting me write about everything and anything’, I wondered.
Agreement was reached and the rest is….well the rest is this column, a quarter of a century on the go this month.
The following is an edited version of the first column I penned for the People.
The background is as follows: Alderman Eamon Waters, in his early twenties, and newly-elected to Kilkenny Corporation, was making his young voice heard regarding the turning off of the traffic lights at Market Cross when the shopping centre was closed and the possible CPOs (Compulsory Purchase Orders) to build seven houses between Stephen Street and Fr Murphy Square.
Eamon fairly ruffled the feathers, to put it mildly, of the elder councillors who were not enamoured with his outspokenness.
To quote Seán Keane, who reported on the meeting: “There was uproar when a beaming Cllr Waters suggested that a JCB be used to dig up the offending traffic lights.”
Only the late Cllr John Bolger came to Eamon’s defence. John felt his colleagues were trying ‘to bury a newly elected member for speaking his mind’. Here’s the column that ensued:
To the Waters and the Wild
I had hoped to commence this column in a peaceful, positive, harmonious mood – a mood brimming with wit, humour, bonhomie and a few other foreign expressions.
But alas, this column comes to you in a baptism of violence and naked aggression. Baptism. Apt word that. Baptism – Water – Waters – not flowing. But running. Running wild.
Yes, my mind this week is crammed with images of Alderman Eamon Waters riding rough-shod around town on a yellow JCB, uprooting traffic lights and waging war on Corporation workers as they try to ‘take’ a few plots of land in the Stephens Street and Parnell Street areas.
Images of the Wild West flood (more water) my mind as Sheriff Donnelly and a posse of Councillors confront Eamon ‘The Kid’ Waters in ‘Gunfight at the Parnell Corral’.
Images of the Alamo spring (more water again) to mind as Davy Crockett-Waters, along with Councillor Jim Bowie-Bolger – plus one lone JCB – confront an army of corporation workers under General Santa Anna McGuinness.
And, Eamon, I need hardly tell you what happened to poor Davy and Jim, and the other 200 Texans, on that fateful day in 1836. Wiped out. Annihilated. Each and every one of them (mind you – remember also that Texas won out in the end).
Meanwhile I am desperately trying to figure out what’s gotten into young Waters that has him threatening to dig up traffic lights and has him fighting furiously with his confréres in the Council Chambers.
I feel a bit responsible for the Alderman as I actually had the pleasure, and privilege, of teaching him.
Obviously I didn’t teach him ALL he knows, for example – how to drive a JCB.
JCB driving wasn’t on the curriculum then though I see no reason why it shouldn’t have been. In fact I am now of the opinion that no young person’s education is complete until he, or she, has learned to drive a JCB.
So, Eamon, you being a Third Level graduate and a man of learning I expect that you’ll throw your weight behind this suggestion of mine. Faith and I expect you to put your foot on the pedal for this one.
What do you think?
A university for Kilkenny including a degree course in JCB driving! Finally, Eamon, whatever about driving JCBs, you really ought to stop driving your fellow Corporation members around the bend.
Have you no respect for your elders, Alderman? Or should that be Alderyouth!