In Jail with John Lacey


Part 1

I was running amok a fair bit in the ‘80s. Lowering the old pints like nobody’s business, throwing the remnants of a fortune about like the proverbial snuff at a wake.

Life then was simple and carefree. You could go to any little country pub, pull out an accordion or tin whistle, sing a song or ‘tell the tale.’ For a few hours, a little bit of magic could be snatched back from the advancing corporate maw of a deceitfully changing world.

And a royal time would be had by all.

People went for a few drinks when they felt like it, not yet bothered by vote-catching laws brought in by the greatest crowd of crims, conmen, and alcoholics in this lovely Isle – that lying scheming robbing Government mob. Whichever shower are in – they’re all thieves. The ‘robbing gene’ is in their DNA.

How quickly this ignorant shower of land-snatchers, stand-over merchants, and wife beaters saw fit to lie down supinely and let the Europeans dictate what we Irish could do or drink. The bloody boring tight-arse Continentals! Christ on a bike! A funny German? But at least they’ll buy their round – not like the snotty snooty French mob. An entertaining Austrian? Get lost!

The very idea that this most Nobel-Prize-for-Literature-saturated population should be straitjacketed into disastrous social changes by that mob is too boring to be anything at all.

So, for a nation that was deep in recession, and once more under the cosh of emigration, the most the pea-brained dinosaurs in Leinster House could come up with was – a Breath Test.

The youth of the country were once again running for the boats – and all our dreadful toadying gobshite Government rocky horrors could do was lick the arse of the most dangerous destructive and murderous harridan the British Isles have ever seen. No – not Myra Hindley – but the Thatcher Kalefactress.

And while young men and women in the North were murdered and tortured by her blood-crazed brigades, there wasn’t a peep out of the pollies, cardinals, or the dire lickspittle so-called Press in our benighted little {alleged} democracy.

Yes, the solution to all these problems was the Breath Test! Why? Like the tossed-off anti-smoking ban brought in recently by a smirking political and intellectual midget – it got the public’s attention away from Government evil doing – or evil nothing doing.

Did anyone seriously think that a middle-aged man, driving a tractor, was a danger to the public? Because he’d had two pints? How about cancer cases left to die in agony for lack of beds and medical help – while ignoramus Soapy Joe hick pollies built highroads to nowhere in their own territory – in order to hang onto a few votes?

Anyway, I ramble. I always do. But I love it!

Late on in the 80’s I ran foul of these new drinking laws. A few times. Well, many times! As a result of which “crimes” I was sent off to the Brig – the Glasshouse – the Pokey – well, the Jail.

No, I hadn’t injured or even collided with anyone. I just had a small amount of beer .

The intellectual capacity of the wimpy judge who sent me down can be ascertained by a study of his {unchallenged} statements in various Circuit Courts.

I will not bore you with more than one specimen of his deathless prose. Stand by for the literary Oscar Wilde-ism of this jennet – peddled into print by a manure-basted home-page of a local newsrag.. “The crime wave in Kilkenny” {intoned Judjus Roy Beanus Lynch-Jeffreys – in a reedy squawk like a trapped and dying fart in a bottle} “has now reached academic proportions”!! Not epidemic – not at all: – academic!

One had visions of worthy Tutors from St Kierans College drunkenly fondling buxom barmaids, or Doctors of Literature and Divinity batin’ the shite out of handy tourists with hurleys and fillets of frozen rabbit. “Academic”, howaya.

Yes, here was Irelands answer to Socrates and Solomon. One plank sitting on a bench.

Anyway, I finished up being sent to an open prison in Wicklow, a place called Shelton Abbey. It was a most humane establishment, and the staff, right from the Governor down, were sound – decent people.

Arriving there, I was told it was up to me to set my own boundaries. I would not be watched or ordered about, but if I chose to act the maggot, a van was available to take me somewhere that was much less hospitable. Within ten minutes.

Having been in an Armed Force of some severity for several years, I saw the sense in this arrangement – and the folly of not tipping along handy between its fault-lines.

I was allocated a bed up on the second floor, in a dormitory of about twelve fellows.

The first night I was there, they all made themselves known to me, and a fair enough bunch they were, too. Chocolate and whatever little goodies they had were proffered, as a sign of friendship.

Needless to say, all of these pillars of society were completely innocent, having been led into trouble and strife by bad men, and left holding the baby – or the swag – by totally dishonest characters – when the wallopers put in their usual unscheduled appearance.

Observing closely these blameless paragons of goodness, propriety – and no doubt lustless Pioneerism – I decided to join them. I alleged that I, too, had been “framed”, and was a guiltless victim of luckless circumstance. This was a great career move, and I was straight away admitted to their pristine pure brotherhood. The fact that I’d been involved in innocent brawling events featuring Mitchelstown cops was deeply appreciated, and my acceptance was assured.

As is the way of things, the average human finds some kind of level in whatever high or low society he or she may suddenly find themselves catapulted into. In the next few days, I struck up a friendship with ‘The Farmer’ {who had quite mistakenly sold several of his neighbours cattle – and his tractor} and also with the main subject of this book – John Lacey.

John was different to anyone I’d ever met, in several respects. The one that struck me immediately was his frankness, and lack of ‘side’. The first night I was talking to him, I asked him what he was ‘in’ for.

He opened his big eyes in honest surprise! “What am I in for, Ned?”…….. To be Continued.

Ned E


The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of The Kilkenny Observer.


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