‘Limerick’s definitely been tidied up a bit since ‘Angela’s Ashes’’

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: I convince the lads to go to Munster to rescue Joey Corbery

‘We’re going to Munster. We’re going to get Joey Corbery back.’

‘We’re going to Munster. We’re going to get Joey Corbery back.’

 

Joey Corbery’s face fills the big TV screen in The Bridge bor. He’s talking about his first try for Munster. He’s saying that other players created the space for him and the most important thing is obviously that the team got the win tonight.

I’m there, “If I scored a try like that, I wouldn’t be sharing the credit with anyone else. I’d have my top off in, like, two seconds, then I’d stort playing my abs like they were accordion buttons, shouting, ‘Who’s the man?’ at the away crowd. It’s the only port of his game that the dude really needs to work on.”

“And the only port of your game that you ever got right,” JP goes.

Everyone laughs. I pretend to as well, even though I’ll probably ring JP tomorrow and remind him that I possibly deserve a bit more respect

Everyone laughs. I pretend to as well because I like to think of myself as someone who can take a joke, even though I’ll probably ring him tomorrow and remind him that he wouldn’t have won a Leinster Schools Senior Cup medal without me and I possibly deserve a bit more respect.

For now, though, I just shush him, because Joey’s still talking. “Yeah,” he goes, “I’m really happy with the move. I’m playing with great players in front of these amazing supporters. And I’m really loving the life down here. Munster is very much home to me now.”

It’s the last line that really snaps my biscuits. I’m there, “Goys, does he look scared to you?”

Oisinn goes, “Scared?”

“Okay, I know you’re going to say I’m being ridiculous, but do you not think he’s blinking really fast?”

“Why would he be blinking fast?”

“It’s like he’s signalling to us or something. Like he’s saying: ‘Send help!’”

Christian rolls his eyes. Yeah, no, he’s another one who’ll be getting a phonecall tomorrow. He goes, “Yeah, maybe you’ve had enough to drink, Ross”, because I’m really putting the pints away tonight.

But JP goes, “A cousin of mine who lives in Cork said he saw Joey a couple of weeks ago in the English Morket. He was buying crubeens and chatting to the locals like he was one of them. He’s totally – I think it’s a word – assimilated?”

That ends up being the final straw. I put my pint down on the bor and I stort heading for the door. I’m like, “Come on, let’s go.”

They’re all like, “Er, where are you going?”

And I’m there, “We’re going to Munster. We’re going to get Joey Corbery back.”

Listen to Ross

“You mean we’re going to kidnap him?” JP goes.

I’m there, “No, I mean we’re going to extract him. Christian, you’re driving”, because he’s the only one of us who isn’t drinking.

“Ross,” Fionn goes, “it’ll be the early hours of the morning by the time we get there.”

And I’m there, “That’s great – means we’ll have him back here in time for brunch.”

I walk outside and the goys follow me to Christian’s Volkswagen literally Passat, which is porked on Elgin Road. We all pile in – me in the front with Christian, then Oisinn, JP and Fionn in the back.

Christian storts the cor, then off we go. I suggest to the goys that we might shorten the journey by each naming, then talking a bit about, our favourite Joey Corbery moments. I mention his 70m try against Treviso.

“That one tonight,” I go, “the Munster fans will be banging on about it like it’s the first time he’s ever scored a try like that before. They’d want to learn to use YouTube. ”

You’re never going to stop it, Ross, because none of us is that strong. Kiely’s is gone. The Bridge is our local now

Very soon after that, I end up falling asleep – like I said, I’ve been really throwing it down my neck tonight, for some reason – and I end up having a dream in which Joey Corbery is staring into a TV camera and he’s saying how much he loves King John’s Castle and Nancy Blake’s and boating on the Shannon, then he’s saying how much he loves golfing in Youghal and the sound of the Shandon Bells and doing Pana. And then the camera pans out and it turns out that he’s reading from a statement and there’s fear – genuine fear – in his eyes.

Then I wake up.

I’m like, “Where are we?”

“We’re just outside Limerick, ” Christian goes.

I haven’t thought how we’re going to extract him yet, mainly because I’m still hammered.

“Why aren’t we allowed to have good things anymore?” I hear myself suddenly go. And there’s real sadness in my voice as well.

JP’s like, “What are you talking about, Ross?”

“You know what I’m talking about. Renords. Ryle Nugent. The Thrills. Joey Corbery. All the things that make the world a happier place, some focker has to eventually come along and go, ‘Sorry, you can’t have that anymore.’”

Oh, fock, I think I’m crying.

“Dude,” Oisinn goes, “we know what this is about. You’re upset about Kiely’s closing.”

I don’t say anything. I just stare out the window, thinking how Limerick is a lot nicer than I thought. They’ve definitely tidied it up a bit since Angela’s Ashes.

I’m there, “Joey looked like he was being held hostage tonight – I mean, I didn’t imagine that, did I?”

Oisinn goes, “Ross, things change. Remember what Fr Fehily used to say? Great things come to an end so that better things can come to a beginning. And round and round the sun we go. And you’re never going to stop it, Ross, because none of us is that strong. Kiely’s is gone. The Bridge is our local now. But do you know something? In time, you might feel the same way about The Bridge as you felt about Kiely’s.”

“That will never happen,” I go. “I’m guaranteeing you now.”

“Well, maybe you won’t feel the same. But you’ll learn to love it in a different way.”

I stare out the window again. I’m like, “We’re not in Limerick, are we?”

Christian’s there, “No. We’ve just been driving up Anglesea and down Simmonscourt Road for the last 20 minutes, waiting for you to sober up and tell us what’s been eating you tonight.”

I laugh. You know, sometimes I think the only advice of any value I can pass on to my children is to go out and find yourselves some friends like mine.

“Let’s go and get the last one in The Bridge,” JP goes.

And I’m like, “Sounds like a good idea to me.”

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