Arron O'Connor Clonbalt woods Longford Town, over 13 years and before there Newtownforbes. Parents, Colm Egan (Clondra) and Jacklyn O'Connor Clonbalt Woods (Born in Wales, and after a short time grew up in County Barkshire west of London). Grandparents on his mother side' Thomas, O'Connor, (born Castlerea) Wife Magaret O'Connor (Lee) ( Belfast, til seven, when after moved to Shropshire).
I was at an event, via Cruthu in Market Bar, upstairs. Where a night of music and song, was happening. This year 2017. I was chatting a few people I knew, made myself known to others I knew, as I waved and nodded and settled into a night of local and far afield talent of song and poetry. Audrey Healy said a few poems from our very own book, myself and Audrey only fews weeks ago launched. Sitting behind me was a young gentleman, I am talking about today, whom I interviewed. He was, looked like a turn, and something out of history, that looked out of place. I nodded and asked 'you a turn, are you doing a poem singing or entertaining tonight, Smiled a coy smile, 'No I am just here taking in the entertainment.' He was like a character from an olde movie, I was kind of saddened when he said he wasn't a turn, i had to ask why he was dressed as he was. Do you do poetry or are you an entertainer of any sort. He said he wrote a little, and did perform before but wasn't tonight. I asked would he be willing to do a story about himself, and he said yes.
Arron schooled in Newtownforbes primary and Ballymahon Convent secondary. Jacklyn brought Aaron at the tender age of 7 to swimming classes, which he took to like a fish to water. To the extent of being 4th in an all Ireland competition, Breast Stroke 50meters. He was a rare person to actually receive a medal for fourth, as many know not a common thing but he did, and I can't think of anybody since. But what a great achievement at a young age and all of the ireland to be top ten is a good achievement.
Decided on Ballymanhon Convent because of friends he had met via swimming club. Currently in his Leaving Cert year. Hopes to go on to UCL London to study English as a subject. Arron is a bit of a writer and showman, which we will talk about later. But his love of writing got him some local fame in Longford Leader, where there was a call out for any new talents, of writing. He wrote a piece on the French revolution, but not with typical protagonists, but with a humanist angle, nither sides, in the barbaric war, but with a look at all and all sufferings. He called the piece La'enge De La Morte.
Talking to Arron, one gets the feeling very quickly he has knowledge beyond his age, very easily talk to you about philosophies, of the Greek eras, and the writings of 17th 18th and 19th centuries greatest thinkers. Speaks with a fluidity of thought on all such subjects and tell you great deep thoughts that surprise you. We spoke at great lengths today, time just slipped by, we got into deep conversations I didn't write all down. But don't despair one can read his works if he dares to put out into the ether that is social media.
The showman, the theatrical gent, that is Arron. Took part with Cruthu in 2016, via Derval Clarke. Open Mic Night in upstairs Market Bar. He does spoken words, will speak theatrically of pieces of famous works or of his own. He has his own style look, that speaks olde gentleman. You have to love that, you can see in images, he owns it well, and you just know get the feeling he will be known to many for his works in no time at all. He is a very likable lad, that only adds to a great sense of style and persona. He took part in an event lately in coffee house 45, via Longford Writers Group, Open Culture Night, joined the writer's group not so long ago. I hope to find a video clip that maybe still up on social media of that night, you can see him, in his aplomb, owing to his style he portrays.
He thanks his grandparents for his liken for history and many other studies, his grandfather was in RAF, but was in it in 1950's, at the time of cold war. His grandmother always read to him stories and gave the young Arron ravenous insatiable appetite for history and stories.
Also, he mentioned Mister O'Gara, teacher English that also noticed his talent for English and history that surpassed even his elder's knowledge, Mister O'Gara would push Arron, inspire Arron. One time he questioned Arron when he wondered why he was holding back when he knew he knew so much more, would propel him to do more. When he was 15, he spent weekends and summers working in Fresh Today up near Argos in Longford Town, gave him some grounding. May I add that if anybody is looking for a compare. you know public speaking that nearly all peoples hate with certainty. Arron, thrives on it, if you have an event of any type and would like a polished performer to entertain, I doubt there is any compare to compare with thee olde gent Arron I sincerely wish Aaron all the best with his studies with Leaving Cert, but also of his talents, writer-performer. I think we all can agree on that, I hope to share some of his, so ye can all appreciate that talent that is there. He left me with a quote from a favorite film of his, that he feels an affinity with ''The Grand Budapest Hotel''.
''His world has vanished long before he even entered it, but I say, he certainly sustains the elusion, with a marvelous grace''
Video Link to Arron and the his piece on Culture Night In Coffee House 45 Longford Town Credit image and video to Mags McKenna
''Pub'' - Short Story By Arron O'Connor
The shutters were closed and the pub was dark. In many ways, it was an ordinary pub, hardly deserving merit beyond the many O’s and Mc’s that littered the town. Its only true semblance of individuality was that it was almost exclusively frequented by the senior generation of the rural population (a custom acquired from being one of the oldest in the town). Byrne’s was its name and, truly, it was the exact same as Madigan’s down the street and Fox’s beyond that, and indeed every other pub littered across the country. Despite its lack of distinction, Sean Byrne, the proprietor, forcefully claimed otherwise. Those who knew the town could recount in the drawn and ragged breaths of Byrne himself that the pub had been ‘’serving since O’Connell went to London’’. In truth, the pub hadn’t opened until after O’Connell’s death and didn’t come to advertise as such until the birth of the Irish tourism industry. Byrne’s followed the Irish custom of being badly planned. Small, longer than it was wide and littered with tables and benches of different sizes, it was a traditional mess. It was like a world enclosed unto itself; stingy and separate from the chewing gum ridden pavement outside. This world had dark oak floors which were rarely varnished and heavily notched in places, and sustained a perpetual atmosphere of an Ireland past. This was the world where the aged might find their youth once more. The scent of old alcohol and Irish history hung upon the very hair and fibres of life in this pub. Even light, as it squeezed through the murky slits of the pub’s windows seemed to transition from bright enlightenment to a dusty flicker within. A single entrance lay hidden in an alcove at one end of the narrow room and a bar stretched the breadth of the pub at the other. The shutters were drawn and only slight shafts of light could pass through to illuminate the plumes of burnt tobacco within. Though the shutters were drawn, the door was not locked despite Byrne’s being closed. After all, nobody would be drinking at this hour. Two men sat at the bar crumpled over the counter atop shaky wooden stools. One took heavy slugs of a pint glass, letting the froth drool across his callous chin and curl at the end. The other puffed on a crumpled cigarette. Both were regulars and ancient friends of Sean Byrne, the bartender, who stood behind the bar wiping glasses with a brown stained rag. He was, like the other Byrnes before him, tall, broad and low-browed. He had the structure of a man who nobody would expect to cease living. ‘’Aon scéal, lads?’’ Sean Byrne asked before spitting onto the rag in his hand and continuing to wipe the rim of a pint glass. ‘’Nothin’, not an effin’ thing,’’ responded the smoker. He was a farmer; Something – Mac – Something from down the lane to Somewhere. Everybody simply knew him as Camel a title owing to the ever-present Camel cigarette that hung from his chapped lips. ‘’Did yous not hear the story about yer man across the way? The Middle Eastern fella,’’ answered the other. He released half a mouthful of brown liquid back into the glass he drank from to speak. The salivary alcohol amalgamation floated on top of the drink and wobbled unnervingly as he planted the glass onto the bar. ‘’What’s this so, Brían? The terrorist boys?’’ inquired Byrne. ‘’Aye,’’ replied Brían, wiping his chin with his brown sleeve and his lips with his tongue. ‘’Yer man was living in a government house up in Dublin.’’ ‘’You’re not serious!’’ exclaimed Byrne. He shook his head disapprovingly in the dark. ‘’That’s a disgrace.’’ He growled gutturally before heaving a mouthful of phlegm from his throat and coughing it out into a rusty sink behind him. ‘’Aye, a disgrace.’’ Camel whispered. His voice was gravelly and hushed, touched by near forty years of smoked cigarettes. The three sat silently in disgust. Each peered at insignificant spots in the shadowy pub as the time dragged on. Brían returned to his pint and Camel took irregular drags of his cigarette until the burnt butt began to sting his dry lips. He pulled the stub from between his black teeth, coated his fingers with a layer of saliva and smothered the burning stub between them. Carelessly, he flicked the stale butt away, into the bar where it fell, meek and worthless. ‘’We shouldn’t be letting those bastards into the country.’’ Brían spoke into his pint. ‘’Which? The Muslims?’’ asked Byrne. ‘’The whole lot of them. Sure, they’re all bad news for this country.’’ He repeated the process of emptying his mouth and slamming the glass onto the counter. ‘’They’re a shower of useless good-for-nothings. The country’s of ‘em and them just taking social welfare to sit about and do feck all. This morning I was down at the post office and sure how many of the foreigners were there to pick up the dole. There were more browns and blacks than white faces in the queue!’’ He was almost entirely rigid as he rambled. As he finished, he scratched the inside of his furry nostrils with one finger before rubbing it on his tattered brown jacket. ‘’Aye, good-for-nothings.’’ whispered Camel. A fresh cigarette, more crumpled than the last, smouldered from between his lips. ‘’Eh, Ireland’s problem is the Black and Tans again!’’ Byrne laughed uproariously and clapped his big hand down on the bar, shaking the whole bench. The two across from him chuckled wheezily. ‘’Sure, there are more Serbs and Romskis and Gypsies than Irish in this town. Christ, they’re treated better than the feckin’ Irish at this stage.’’ ‘’They well are!’’ Byrne cried. ‘’My dole’s after been cut, fags have gone up another fifty cent and sure where’s the money going but to the foreigners!’’ He slammed his fist down, missed the bar and hit his own thigh. ‘’Shite!’’ Camel took the lit cigarette from his mouth and dropped it into a grimy ashtray. His yellow eyes passed between Byrne and Brían as he chewed his bottom lip and prepared to speak. They both watched him silently. ‘’A pack of fags is fifty cent dearer and who loses out? Sure, it’s us. Those foreigners are all stricken with all sorts of drugs, dope and hash and all that. And they’re bringing it into this country…’’ He trailed off and picked up his cigarette again in a stupor. It flared angrily, casting an orange glow into the cave. ‘’Useless, riddled with drugs, and on top they’re the rudest bastards you could ever cross paths with. A shower of scummers.’’ Brían leaned uneasily on the bar. He took a final gulp of the pint and thrust the empty glass to Byrne. ‘’Another there, on the tab. I’ll get you that back there on Friday week.’’ Byrne filled the glass again from the draught and planted it to the right of Brían’s hanging head. He returned to polishing the glasses with his spit while the other two sat silently. Camel broke into a fit of coughing, holding the bar’s edge with his wrinkled fingers for support. The half-smoked cigarette he was smoking was thrown from his lips and smouldered on the wooden floorboards before dying. After half a minute of choking, Camel pulled himself up and reassumed his position at the bar, now red-faced and sweaty. His eyes were streaked with painfully bright streaks of scarlet and his temples bulged with swelled veins. He lit another cigarette, bit down on it and inhaled deeply to soothe himself. His two companions paid no notice to this normal struggle. Suddenly, the croaky silence was broken. The bar door scratched open. Daylight cascaded in through the open door, filling the bar with radiant sunlight. Brían and Camel craned their heads around towards the door and all three squinted as a lady peered around the alcove that hid the door. She was dark skinned, dark haired and dark eyed, and undoubtedly foreign. Her jet-black hair jostled, shimmering like onyx around her sallow skin in the breeze. Her dark eyes glittered in the sun, framed by heavy dark eyelashes and brows. Even her teeth, exposed by genial grinning seemed to shine flawlessly in the spotlight. Above all, she possessed an aura that seemed to utterly repel the dust bouncing about her as she stood in the doorway. The three men at the end of the pub seemed dull and inert in comparison to this lively woman. ‘’Excuse me, where is liberry?’’ She asked in her deep Slavic voice. Silence ensued for a few moments as the three decrepit men hunched about the bar examined her. Sean Byrne finally answered after examining this foreigner. ‘’Down the main street, in beside the Garda barracks,’’ he bristled coldly. The lady smiled and nodded her head courteously. ‘’Thank you.’’ She paused for a moment and the pub grew silent once again. She closed her eyes and concentrated deeply on what she wanted to say next. ‘’Do you have time?’’ Brían and Camel watched the woman intently, one puffing, the other sipping. ‘’Time for what?’’ enquired Byrne standoffishly. ‘’Sorry… What is time?’’ As she asked this, she tapped her wrist with one finger. Byrne laboriously rose his wrist to look at his watch. ‘’Quarter to one.’’ ‘’Thank you, sir.’’ The lady wasn’t altered by the indignance of the barman. Her disposition remained as cheerful in leaving the pub as it had been entering it. She smiled a rich, whole smile, raised her hand and nodded her head as she departed. The door slid closed, pushing the daylight out of the pub. The final slit of sunshine traced across the wall before finally being crushed. The whole establishment was dark once again. ‘’Holy Mother of God…’’ murmured Byrne. Brían and Camel turned around and looked at him. ‘’They’re a shower of queer bastards those foreigners.’’ And so, they began stagnating once more, their minds as narrow and dim as the bar in which they were hunched.