Donegal Tattoo

A couple of weeks back and I was telling stories in the

lumps above Sligo or Donegal as the locals call it. A county hit

hard by emigration. All the young people gone so I did a show

in the nursing home, a show in the dole office and one in the

montessori to round it off . Three shows back to back and I was

spaced. The bandito’s that I was touring with had scored some

seriously peaceful cammomile tea from an old hipster chemist

on the outskirts of town. Last I saw of the boys they were lain

across the amps in the back of the van like blankets.

I had the address of a born again christian girl that I”d met

on a Provo-Catholic dating website called Saints and Shinners.

She wanted to show me her new tattoo of Christ on the Via

Dolorosa. She said it went from the nape of her neck to her the

balls of her feet, took three long days to complete and she

thought that I was the type of man that’d appreciate it. She

wasn’t wrong. I had to get permission from the tour manager

first though, part landed aristocracy, part settled itinerant,

straight outta Cavan

-You wanna go see who?

-A girl with a Jesus Tattoo


-Material,I replied, her surname is Draper

-Good one ! he said. We’re pulling outta here at 10 in the a.m.

Don’t have me go looking for ya

-No worries boss

I bummed an electric cigarrette off a homeless dude but it

wasn’t charged so I gave it back and found my way to her


I rang the door bell and moments later she answered. A

woman me own age and no more than meself a bit rough round

the edges. Wide eyed buck toothed and excited, she looked like

a frightened horse. My kinda gal. Buxom enough wearing a

green and gold GAA jersey with the words Donegal Creameries

written across her chest. Can’t get finer advertising than that I


-Come on in she says in a Glenties brogue, an accent full of

mischief , hope and almost understandable

-Oh you’ll have tea ? she said

-Lapsang Souchang I said If you have it

-Is that Chinese? she says

-No, its tea I says

-I have Barry’s

-Will he mind ?

-Who ?


-Barry who?

-The guy who owns the tea

She paused a Donegal pause. It was hard to know if she

was slow or thinking.

-I’ll just put the kettle on she said and slipped in to the kitchen.

I picked her up

-That lino is fierce greasy she said. Happens twice a day. Sit ye

down in there now, I’ll be back in a minute

She came back in with a teapot in the shape of Shay

Givens head and mugs the spit of the Brennan girls

-You were born up our way weren’t ye ?

-I was. Carn, last petrol station before Malin Head or the first

one coming down if you’re an Eskimo.

We talked for a wee while of the beauty of the mountains,

the unpredictability of weather and the filling out of forms to get


-We haven’t had it easy up here have we ? she asked

-No no you haven’t no no no

-No she says but we gave you a good start in life didn’t we ?

And I suppose our only strength in this life is sticking together

whenever we can. Well I won’t delay ye

She turned around and took off her clothes and I saw the

tattoo. It ran the length of her body. Christ on his way up

Calvary. But no ordinary Christ this, no ordinary figures

watching him go up. Twas Rory Gallagher with the cross on his

back and Packie Bonner giving him a hand. Enya weeping by

his side and the MacEniffs doing sandwiches. Every hurt soul

was a Donegal one. The 12 apostles were made up of inter

county footballers and the Roman soldier was a Dub. This was

the Via Donegala

-My goodness

-Look hard she replied

-I’ll try I said

I did. I stared and stared til I saw meself. In the

background alright with me arm around Daniel O’Donnell. We

were halfway between her kidney and her coccyx. I didn’t seem

to mind but he looked under fierce pressure altogether

-These are your people she said turning round. You’re one of us.

There’s Doherty blood in them veins I know there is. We need

you now Tom.

She was buck naked. I didn’t where to look

-Look in me eyes Tom

-Gladly I replied

- Will you join us in our facebook campaign to make Donegal

Tuesday an international holiday ! The second day of rag week

as famous all over the world as Christmas and September the

11th. I can see them now from Tianmenan Square to Place de

La Republique. From Buckingham Palace to Bethlehem, men

women and children all queueing up outside pubs in their

Donegal jerseys at 8 o’clock in the morning waiting to get

hammered. Muslims and Protestants and Jews and homosexuals

all getting drunk together. The world needs it Tom

I made a run for the door, I heard her shout as I trotted out

the path

-We were thinking for the 2020 thing to make a month of it.

Donegal September. 30 days of drinking. Like a new version of

Lent. We could call it Locked. Would you help us get some

funding ? Just a few tweets would do…..

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