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Wood You Believe It?
Forget the Virgin Mary appearing on a tree stump in Rathkeale - our columnist had a miraculous experience of his own in Lebanon two years ago.
Eamonn McCann, 03 Sep 2009
“Virgin restored in Limerick,” scoffed a headline in a sniffy Brit newspaper, jeering at the Sacred Stump of Rathkeale, repaired following minor vandalism.
It is not widely known that I myself have been associated with a miracle quite similar to the appearance of the BVM and baby Jesus on a felled tree in the Limerick parish.
Two years ago, myself, Jimmy Kelly and others associated with fucking over the Raytheon arms company in Derry were wandering in southern Lebanon, inspecting the wreckage left by Israeli aggression the previous year. Unused to the broiling heat, we sat down for a rest and a roll-up on a lump of dead wood on the outskirts of the village of Beit Jbeil two miles from the border, whose people, hopelessly, as it seemed, outgunned, had with indomitable courage fought off the invaders over days of existential struggle.
Anyway. As we slouched on the arid husk of sun-whitened timber, Jimmy pulled out his tin whistle and idly played an ornamented version of ‘Siobhan Ni Dhuibhir’. A week later, back in Derry, news came from our pal Zeinab that – you’ve guessed it – the Beirut Star was running a story from Beit Jbeil about a chunk of dead wood suddenly sprouting a profusion of beauteous blossom and local people speculating that the fantastical happening had resulted from an Irish shaman playing an ancient air while seated upon it.
I reminded Jimmy of this when I chanced upon him outside Sandino’s amid a leathered clump of his fellow bikers and suggested we go into business offering farmers a new service – “Guaranteed miraculous growth! Let Kelly whistle you up a fortune!” That sort of thing.
“No wonder Hezbollah thought you were a headcase,” he responded, revving his Harley and roaring off, cool jacket emblazoned with the logo and legend, “The Devil’s Disciples”.
Oh, me of little faith.
Months now I have refused to believe the yarn about Gerry Adams having a large bottle of liquid confiscated by security at Belfast City Airport and the substance turning out to be anti-wrinkle face-cream.