Mullingar and the signal in the noise.

There was big talk about Mullingar, the holy Mecca of sales. Did you not hear about Belvedere Hills, and Lakepoint Rise and what was the name of that other place, Dalton Park? Oh, there’ll be sales falling from the sky like the frogs off Magnolia that time. So went the theory from the two ninjas that were destined to make us all rich from their performance on the Midlands campaign.

I got there around half two. Supposed to be there at 12 but I didn’t like missing the start of Joe Duffy at 1.45pm.We were supposed to work til 8pm but I was hoping to be back on the road again for The Hard Shoulder at half four on Newstalk so the window of opportunity was closing fast. The two Wolfs of Wall streets were already there, rolling smokes and discussing the price of train tickets. We drove around and found a place with a quare Irish name and parked up and got out and looked about. One lad said he’d go up here around the corner and the other said he’d go down there behind the playground and I said I’d hang tight here and keep an eye on the car and do some admin. Ya know yourself.

Later, the sun was steel blue sharp and warm like the heat through your neighbours wall. There was kids crying in houses, and dogs barking, and lads in vests drinking cans in gardens. A soft voice came from somewhere, a signal in the noise. I looked around, couldn’t see anything, then heard it again.  

Excuse me, mister, can I talk to ya…? 

It was a girl in a school uniform with jet black black hair. Standing there, waiting. I said, yeah? 

My daddy wants ya.  

And she went back inside the house behind her.  

I walked over, pushed the door. There was a smell like a blocked toilet and Chinese food in the bag too long. The girl was walking ahead, down a long corridor with thick concrete walls that were wet with condensation that looked like slime in a cave. The floor was torn lino and there was a door at the end with blinding bright solar prisms coming through the cracked panes.  

She led me into a room, noise here. The patter of a dogs feet, a telly with a show full of canned laughter. People sitting around a bed. Daddy musta been the fella under the sheets, holding a crutch in one hand and the remote control in the other. Mammy must have been the woman beside him with the ketamine eyes and the American t-shirt (Chicago Bears? Harvard? Something….) 

There were others too. More kids. They were all eating some kind of takeout from tinfoil containers. There was the sound of chewing, sucking, licking and cutlery scraping, like cars going fast on the motorway at night. One lad was in a wheelchair but I didn’t know if it was his or he just needed a place to sit. He looked up at me cross eyed and then horsed down some curry chips and said nothing.  

Mammy kept smiling at the telly. I was afraid she might slide off the bed and fall out on to the floor. She had that gravitational slant going on, and the reflexes were definitely on the blink.  

Daddy used the crutch to make a point, rose it towards imaginary memories as he spoke. The last fella that was here told him lies. And he wanted a good price. And what could I do for him? I asked him how he was fixed with bank accounts, Ibans, Direct Debits, that kinda thing. 

 No he said, not a hope. I do everything through the Post Office. Thank fuck, I was thinking, but said, unfortunately we can’t help.  

Lave it so, he said. Thanks anyway.  

Here’s the dog now, trying to bite my shoelaces, after shitting soft little pebbles across the floor. The girl in the uniform stood up, asked: Do you know you’re way out? 

And I left.  

 

 

 

The Left Bank.

One day the woman in the bank said: ‘Why don’t you have a debit card?’

         ‘I don’t want one.’

         ‘Wouldn’t it be handy?’

         ‘How so?’

         ‘You wouldn’t have to come in here any time you need money. You could just get it at the ATM.’

         ‘Wouldn’t you be out of a job then?’

         She laughed, haughty, said: ‘Oh no, don’t worry, we’ve plenty to do.’

         ‘Still, you’re grand.’

         She seemed upset. Filled out the forms, went for the cash, printed the receipt, asked me to sign it. She took the biro back like I might steal it and threw it in the drawer. There was a bit of a queue now. A farmer with a chequebook, some lad with a bag of coins and a woman with a wired child. All held up by the lad that could have just gone to the ATM.

         Next week, she asked the same thing. And will she fill out the form?

         I told her no, you’re grand. I like cash. I know where I am, then. Them cards, sure who knows? She shook her head, filled out the forms, printed the receipt, counted the cash like she hated it. Some lad behind me was waiting to make a lodgement and another woman working there asked him why he doesn’t just use the new fancy machine in the corner. Sure ya can lodge like that now, don’t ya know? Just use your card, put in your pin, and get the receipt. No need to queue at all. No need to bother the staff, sure we’re busy.

         The following week they were in a hurry because the hours were reduced. There was a man at the counter wondering if he could lodge money into his daughter’s account. And she was in Dublin, and he was in Mayo, and how would that work? They asked him if he had online banking and he said no, not really. They had a tablet alright, but he didn’t use it much. The woman there explained all the benefits of banking on the internet and how he could do all this at home, and there was no need to come in anymore, and all he needed was the computer and a few passwords and ask the daughter the next time and she’ll set it up for him. Sound, he said, and then it was my turn to take out the cash. Well, she said, eye roll, will we get you set up with a debit card or what?

         Go on, so.

         And it arrived a week later, and it was grand, and it was pure handy like she said and I must thank her when I see her again but I don’t go to the bank much anymore. And the farmer with the cheques probably doesn’t go either, and the other man with the daughter in Dublin, or the woman with the kid, or the fella with the bags of coins. Sure, there’s no point anyway cos the bank is closed since cos there’s no need for anyone to work there anymore cos it’s all so handy now.

*

Mayo Launch of Mick Donnellan’s new novel – The Naked Flame.

You are invited to the launch of

Mick Donnellan’s new novel 

The Naked Flame 

Ballinrobe Market 

On Easter Saturday

16th of April

**Time 1.30pm**

Media Contact: mickdonnellan@hotmail.com

You can read The Naked Flame on Kindle here: 

The Naked Flame on Kindle

You can buy The Naked Flame on Paperback here: 

The Naked Flame in Paperback 

About The Naked Flame:  

Set in Athlone, the heart of the Irish midlands, The Naked Flame is a story of love, loss, betrayal, and passion. John joe is engaged but doesn’t want to get married. He’s not sure how to break this to Karen. Then it’s time for the stag party in Madrid. There he meets Marilyn. They spend the night together and everything changes. Now the wedding is cancelled, the police want to talk to him about a double murder and the phone is ringing with mysterious requests to come to London. John joe suddenly finds himself in a surreal world, full of unusual characters and extreme danger, with no obvious way out. Met with impossible choices he can only trust the alluring woman that offers all the answers – but at what cost?  

 Mick Donnellan’s fourth novel is rich in comedy, tragedy, hints of the absurd and undertones of a man in existential crisis. The story thunders along with unexpected twists and ominous turns that culminate in a devastating climax. A unique tale, it strikes an emotional note, and is guaranteed to supply an entertaining read. 

About Mick Donnellan 

Recent Awards/ projects: 

Mick Donnellan is the author of three previous novels. El Niño (2012) Fisherman’s Blues (2014) and Mokusatsu (2019). 

The Naked Flame was completed during a retreat at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in late 2021. 

When not writing fiction he works as a successful Playwright and Screenwriter. Film credits include Tiger Raid (2016) adapted from Mick’s Play Radio Luxembourg.  He has recently received the Agility Award through the Arts Council of Ireland and the Mayo Theatre Bursary through Mayo Arts Office.  

His most recent Play Nally was supported by Westmeath Arts Office and aired in May 2021 as a Zoom/Youtube performance. It was attended by over two thousand viewers on the night and many more since.  

You can watch Nally here: https://youtu.be/FiJYuaa5x2Q  

In May 2020 Mick had a monologue (The Crucified Silence) chosen as part of the Scripts Ireland Play festival. After a week of intensive workshops with Playwright Eugene O’Brien, the monologue was directed by Jim Culleton (Fishamble) and performed by Aaron Monaghan.  

Mick is currently part of the Galway Theatre Development Programme run by Andrew Flynn in conjunction with Galway’s Town Hall Theatre. He is also listed on the Irish theatre institute here:  http://irishplayography.com/person.aspx?personid=47564 

About Mick Donnellan:

Mick Donnellan completed the MA in Writing at NUIG in 2004. Since then, he has worked as a novelist, travel writer, teacher and Playwright. He completed his first novel, El Niño, in 2004 and immediately secured a literary agent. He left Ireland soon after and went on to live in Spain, Australia, and Canada. While traveling he worked as a journalist and co-founded the Arts Paper – Urban Pie – in Vancouver. Upon returning to Ireland he went on to work with Druid (2009) and RTE (2010)  and El Niño was published in 2012 with excellent reviews.   

Later, Mick established his own theatre company, Truman Town Theatre. All Truman Town Plays are written, directed, and produced by Mick. The company exploded on to the theatrical circuit in 2011 with their hit Play – Sunday Morning Coming Down. Following a national tour, they went on to produce (and tour) two more hugely successful Plays Shortcut to Hallelujah and Gun Metal Grey. These dramas eventually became known as the “Ballinrobe Trilogy.”  

Moving slightly from rural settings but not themes, the theatre company toured a fourth Play, Velvet Revolution. Set in a stark urban landscape, it created interest in Mick’s work among the film industry. He followed Velvet Revolution with his fifth Play – Radio Luxembourg – and it was immediately optioned by London Film Company Dixon/Baxi/Evans and adapted for the screen.  

While the film was in development, Mick’s second novel – Fisherman’s Blues – was published. As it rose up the ranks, and enjoyed positive reviews, Mick was taken on board as screenwriter on the Radio Luxembourg project. After some months commuting to and from London, the script was complete, and a shoot was organised in the Jordanian desert. Titled Tiger Raid and Starring Brian Gleeson, Damian Molony and Sofia Boutella, it was accepted into the Tribeca film festival (New York) and was also seen at Cannes and Edinburgh. The Irish Premiere was screened at the Galway Film Fleadh. You can read more about Tiger Raid and watch the trailer here:    

 Other exciting projects include the screen adaptation of Shortcut to Hallelujah with Florence Films. The screenplay is titled Sam and is based around the gypsy curse supposedly set on the Mayo Football team as they returned home as All Ireland Champions in 1951. Set in the present day, Sam is drenched in Irish lyricism and modern-day dark humour. The script has been met with keen interest by film producers and actors throughout the industry.  

Mick has lectured part-time in writing at the AIT (Athlone Institute of Technology) in County Westmeath. The course has enjoyed an exponential increase in numbers since its inception in September 2017. April 2019 saw the release of the well-received Tales from the Heart which is a collection of creative work from the students. It was launched at the college by bestselling author and esteemed politician Mary O’Rourke. 

Mick has worked as a writing lecturer at NUI Galway.

http://www.mickdonnellan.com