Boyle: I have to go to a job, Joxer. Just afther you’d gone, Devine kem runnin’ in to tell us that Father Farrell said if I went down to the job that’s goin’ on in Rathmines I’d get a start.
Joxer: Be the holy, that’s good news!
Boyle: How is it good news? I wonder if you were in my condition, would you call it good news?
Joxer: I thought…
Boyle: You thought! You think too sudden sometimes, Joxer. D’ye know, I’m hardly able to crawl with the pains in me legs!
Joxer: Yis, yis; I forgot the pains in your legs. I know you can do nothin’ while they’re at you.
Boyle: You forgot; I don’t think any of yous realize the state I’m in with the pain in mylegs. What ud happen if I had to carry a bag o’ cement?
Joxer: Ah, any man havin’ the like of them pains id be down an’ out, down an’ out.
Sean O Casey – Juno and the Paycock, Act 1, Scene 5
It’s almost thirty years since we did Sean O’Casey’s plays for A level. Living in Somerset in the 1970s, Dublin seemed as far away as New York or Sydney.I remember on one occasion being asked by our tutor to look up where Rathmines was in order to see how far Boyle would have to travel to reach the job that Father Farrell had found for him.The text book said it was a suburb of Dublin.
Six years later walking three miles from Churchtown into Trinity College most mornings of the week, I used to mutter to myself about Boyle as I passed through Rathmines halfway into my journey. Boyle could talk about what was necessary, but had a finely honed skill in avoiding anything that smacked of effort.
Boyle seems to reappear more often than I would like; his spirit lives on ninety years after O’Casey described his character. Whether in the politicians who outline detailed responses to problems, but never seem to have the resources to implement change; or in the trades people who promise to carry out all sorts of work, but have an inexhaustible supply of excuses as to why they failed to appear at the time they had promised, Boyle lives on.
Where Boyle seemed absent was in the small rural community in Co Down in which I lived for seven years. The culture seemed very different. One farmer told me once that he tried to live his life according to the words of Psalm 15:
LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart
and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,
who despises a vile man
but honours those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,
who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.
It would make an interesting set of standards for Dublin in 2007!