'It's Us They're Talking about' : Charlie Owen

Margaret Farren

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Charlie's been talking for over an hour and a half by now and, although he is showing no signs of fatigue or boredom, the other members of the family are beginning to return home and are no doubt anxious to have their home returned to them! It's time to put the TV back on and return to the twenty first century. Charlie's last pause for thought is on the subject of Charlie McGlinchey.

"I knew oul' Charlie McGlinchey well. I used to be with him on maybe wet days and he'd talk away and I'd get a lot of information from him. Them Minte crowd would wind him up saying 'Beware of Charlie Owen, he has you insured for £100,000 and he's waiting for you to die.' Poor oul' McGlinchey was up to me about three times and I had to reassure him that I'd done nothing of the sort. It wasn't right. Once they got you going them Minte ones could convince you of anything. They had oul' Captain Cochrane [the local landlord] the same way, telling him there was a White Lady in the house and anything he'd ask for he would get. Den Mór used to work for Cochrane, and a right worker Den was. He understood work. I saw him out getting fodder in Urris and all the rest of it. Cochrane sold Den five bags of potatoes and they 'weren't good. Den wouldn't pay him for them. I saw them myself, they were wile. Cochrane came in to Pat Jimmy Nancy this day in the shop. I was in too. Cochrane says to Pat 'Any news the day?' 'Oh terrible bad news!' says Pat 'What is it?', says the captain. 'Den Mór was turned into the tyre of a bicycle and went down Mullawee brae and John McCrudden riding him. 'Was he suffering much pain?', says Cochrane. 'Oh, he must have been suffering terrible pain because he was heard out in Craignahorna screaming.' 'That was the work of the White Lady', says the captain, and that was the prudies paid for!

I used to try to learn Irish of McGlinchey, but the way McGlinchey would say it I couldn't get it. I could get it better off William Sean. McGlinchey tried to learn me a story but I never could get the thing, though I could tell you it in English.

'Amadán óg a bhí ann darb ainm Searlas Bacach. Bhí sé féin agus a mhathair ag siúl le chéile uair amháin agus iad ag iarraidh déirce. Bhí an lá an-te agus d'eirigh an mhathair lag agus luigh si sios faoi chrann. Dúirt sí lena mhac gan rud ar bith a ligint [gar di] agus í ina codhladh. Thit sí ina codhladh. Tháinig cuileog agus shocraidh ar srón na mná. Thóg an buachaill báta agus bhuail sé buille maith ar an chuileog. Theip air an chuleog a bhualadh agus briseadh srón a mná.'


'There was a young fool one time by the name of Charles Bacach. He and his mother were out walking together one day, and them begging. The day was very hot and the mother got very weak and lay down under a tree. She said to the son not to let anything near her while she was asleep. She fell asleep. A fly came and set tied on her nose. The boy raised the stick and made a big swipe at the fly. He missed the fly, but he broke his mother's nose.'

And McGlinchey would always finish by saying 'Sensible gasur!' He used to have some great sayings, and he'd always start by saying 'I remember ' Charlie was a weaver by trade and as he says in the book, he was the best woolly weaver from Derry down. True enough, if anybody got anything made by McGlinchey it would last for years and years. A sorry part of it was I never got to go up to his oul' home. I had an engagement to go up one time with Willie John William, but I didn't keep the engagement. I don't know where it is. Is it away up above Minaduff?"

He stops for a while as if trying to picture in his mind where the old McGlinchey house might be. "Aye," he concludes. "McGlinchey was alright."

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