There was a surreal discussion about a flying pig at last week’s fractious meeting of Monaghan County Council that left more than a few people shaking their heads in wonderment.

The row was over a mural, a piece of art depicting a flying pig, which was to have been painted along the new Castleblaney by-pass. The artwork by David Annad was commissioned under the ‘Per cent for Art’ initiative and its €90,000 cost was being funded by the National Roads Authority.

But not everybody was happy and the amount of clichés and insults flying about the council chamber would surely have floored the poor old pig if it really had been in flight. Councillor Gary Carville said the whole idea was ‘stupid’ and insisted that the money would be far better spent elsewhere.

Both the County Manager, Declan Nelson, and the Director of Services, Adge King, pointed out that, even though a lot of money had already been spent on the project, the council could certainly abandon it but the money would have to be returned as it could not be spent elsewhere.

At that stage, Councillor Vincent Martin declared that a refusal to proceed with the painting would have a detrimental effect on the promotion of arts in the area and, anyway, it was well known that one should never stare a gift pig in the face.

As a picture of the flying pig was circulated to the members, Councillor Brian McKenna remarked rather innocently that he didn’t know pigs could fly which prompted the Mayor, Councillor Matt Carthy, to declare that they certainly could in Castleblaney.

Then it all got a bit tetchy when Fine Gael representative, Councillor Hugh McElvaney, insisted that a flying pig would be a good logo for the Fianna Fail party. He said to spend €90,000 on such a painting would be ‘akin to rubbing butter up against a fat sow’s backside’ only he didn’t put it as delicately as I have just done! 

Councillor Sean Conlon was of the view that such ‘so-called art’ was the excess cream which the bloated Celtic Tiger had failed to ingest.

And on and on it went until, eventually, a show of hands carried Councillor Robbie Gallagher’s proposal that the Council request permission to spend the money for another purpose. However, Mayor Carthy was of the opinion that the proposal was ‘cuckoo-land stuff’ and they didn’t have a hope of being allowed to put the funding to alternative use. “We are deluding themselves”, he stated.

Well, no offence to the members of Monaghan County Council but, as soon as I read the report, the first thing that came into my mind was part of the lyric from ‘The Pig Song’, the famous old folk/jazz tune.

‘Twas an evening in October, I’ll confess I wasn’t sober,

I was carting home a load with manly pride,

When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,

And a pig came up and lay down by my side.

Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,

Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:

‘You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses’

Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.

A rare bird at sea  

Crew on a trawler on a trawler fishing off the south coast last week were surprised when a large and very unusual bird, about the size of a turkey, landed on the deck. The bird looked exhausted and hungry so the crew fed it, so much so that the bird stayed with the boat for several days until it landed its catch of hake three days later. The bird was taken to Dingle Oceanworld in Kerry where wildlife expert Kevin Flannery identified it as a rare Gyrfalcon which is native to Greenland and Artic areas. He said it was amazing that it was picked up off the Irish coast.


Pubs going back to the future?

If the Vintners Federation of Ireland gets its way, it could soon be a case of ‘back to the future’ for rural pubs in this country. The image being conjured up is of the old days when, very often, a village pub was in the back room of the local grocer’s shop and post office. In Britain at present there is an initiative under way gives publicans grants to extend their pubs into libraries and post offices and the President of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, Val Hanley, wants the government in this country to follow suit.

He said the initiative in Britain was very exciting and, if copied here, could be the saviour of many pubs in a country where 1200 establishments, most of them in rural areas, had closed their doors in the last four years. He said many pubs had experienced their worst November trade in living memory.

Referring to the VFI price-freeze on drinks for the next twelve months, Mr. Hanley insisted that the government and drinks suppliers should also observe a twelve-month price freeze. 


Soccer match abandoned

I don’t know if it has ever happened before but a Junior Soccer match was abandoned last week when one of the teams had five players red-carded. The rules state that a team must have at least seven players on the pitch so the referee called a halt. The game was between Tulla United and Bridge United in the County Clare League’s First Division.

Apparently, the drama began when the referee showed a yellow card to the entire Tulla team for arriving late onto the pitch following the half-time break. But it wasn’t the Tulla players who received their marching orders. The five red cards were shown following what was termed ‘abusive protests’ towards the official by the Bridge players after a goal was scored against them in controversial circumstances. No messing there!

Something lacking on a little girl’s fire engine 

Firefighters at the Waterford Fire Station in Catherine Street were on duty as usual one afternoon last week when they spotted a little girl on the opposite pavement playing with a toy fire-engine. It was quite big, red in colour and had toy ladders and hoses attached on to its sides. The firefighters couldn’t help but smile when they saw that the girl had a lead from the fire engine tied to her little Jack Russell dog. “Here, Patch, here boy”, she kept pleading with the dog but he remained sitting on the spot and flatly refused to move.

The lads thought the little girl with her curly hair and big, bright eyes was a real little cutie so they went across the street, introduced themselves and invited her to visit the station as long as it was OK with her mother. “You can ask Mammy”, she replied, pointing at one of the doors on the street. She was clearly beside herself with excitement and she blurted out: “I’m going to be a fire woman when I grow up, you know.”

While one of the officers went to speak to the little girl’s mother, the other firefighters took a closer look at her toy machine and, to their amazement, discovered that the lead was tied, not to the Jack Russell’s collar, but to his testicles.

“Sweetheart”, they said to the little girl, “the reason your dog won’t pull the engine is because of where you have the lead tied to.”

“I know”, she replied, “but if I tie the lead anywhere else, Patch won’t make the nee-naw sound for me.”