By Judy Berman
On the train from Dublin to Blarney, I begin to wonder just what I’d gotten myself into. The signs posted were in Gaelic. The folks around us were speaking in a beautiful brogue – and we didn’t understand a word.
But we arrived without a hitch and basked in the village folks’ warm welcome.
The old castle, built in 1446, beckons. It’s the third structure built on this site, and it’s a long climb. This trek, taken years ago, meant that I’d have to lean over an empty space in the wall while lying on my back to kiss the Blarney Stone. Well, I had some second and third thoughts about that before finally giving in.
I was convinced that I didn’t need to do this to acquire the gift of eloquence. Being part-Irish, I always assumed that was in my DNA. But my husband and I did just that. (Our youngest daughter, who already has the gift o’ gab, declined.)
After kissing the stone, you are supposed to be bestowed with the gift of blarney – or “clever, flattering” talk. Smooth-talking charm aside, I doubt that I could have pulled off what townspeople in the tiny Irish village of 52 people in Tullymore (Tulaigh Mhór) accomplished.
One of their own won the National Lottery. But no one knew who. I’d lived in a community like this. The livestock outnumber the residents and everyone knows everyone else’s business. The world almanac of misinformation, the owner at the local grocery store, filled in whatever information was missing.
The townspeople hold a chicken supper, hoping that the winner will at last be revealed. No dice. But they notice that one of the townsfolk is missing: Ned Devine. Quite odd.
Two friends, Ian Bannen (as Jackie O’Shea) and David Kelly (as Michael O’Sullivan) rush to Devine’s cottage to confront him. But Ned is dead, and in his hand is the winning lottery ticket. The shock of winning killed him.
Honest folks would have alerted authorities. When 7 million pounds is involved, however, scheming Irish eyes are smiling about what they could do with the prize money.
In “Waking Ned Devine” (1998), Jackie is convinced by a dream that Ned wants the town to share his wealth. So Jackie and Michael plot with the townspeople to deceive the claim inspector from Dublin. They are all to pretend that Ned is alive and well. Then they can all be rich.
In the scam to defraud the lottery officials, Michael poses as Ned. This becomes a bit awkward when the claim inspector stumbles into the church where Ned’s funeral is being held. The villagers pretend the service is for Michael.
As Jackie rides with the claim inspector to Ned’s cottage, Michael drives at breakneck speed, naked, on a motorcycle to beat them there.
Everyone’s on board with this conspiracy – except one who has designs of her own on the money. Aye, and that’s the rub … in this fine tale filled with blarney, deception, twists and laughter.
“Erin go Bragh” … Long live Ireland.
Video – movie trailer: “Waking Ned Devine” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osmPlQXzXXA
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Photo: BlarneyCastle – BlarneyCastle and adjacent east tower View is to west from walkway. To kiss the Blarney Stone, you must climb the steps to the top of castle, go to the arch shown in the photo, lay on your back, and arch your head backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone at the base of the arch shown in the photo. Photo taken April 2001 by Joseph Mischyshyn. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2e/Blarney_Castle_and_adjacent_east_tower_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1625431.jpg/400px-Blarney_Castle_and_adjacent_east_tower_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1625431.jpg
Photo: Blarney Stone – woman kissing the Blarney Stone (Blarney Castle, Ireland) – August 2002 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7f/Blarney_stone.png/454px-Blarney_stone.png
Blarney Castle – the home of the Blarney Stone http://www.blarneycastle.ie/