It was a fine, fresh afternoon, a day perfect for the first day of the season of Advent.
Rather than risk the vagaries of the No 18 bus, which might arrive at some time after the scheduled time or might not arrive at all, I decided to walk. Google Maps told me it was four and a half miles to the stadium at Lansdowne Road where the FAI Cup final would kick off at 4 pm.
I strolled along at a leisurely pace, much of the journey was along the banks of the Grand Canal, and as I reached Portobello and crossed the Lower Rathmines Road, I laughed out loud at the thought of Sean O’Casey’s Captain Boyle and pain in the legs.
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 my legs. 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 more than forty 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.
It is a dozen years or more since I last read O’Casey’s plays, I had altogether forgotten Captain Boyle. This afternoon, as I passed Rathmines, he was revived. There was a sense of coming full circle.
T.S. Eliot’s words seemed appropriate, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Rathmines did not look the sort of place where work might be found for a man who imagined pains in his legs, it is far too bustling for the likes of Captain Boyle.