Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: Honor isn’t for everyone. She takes after her old man in that regord

I can see the sadness in her eyes. I feel bad that she was driven to these desperate lengths. Terenure will do that to you.

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Ross O'Carroll-Kelly: Honor. Illustration: Alan Clarke.

Honor isn’t for everyone. She very much takes after her old man in that regord? Hey, as I always say, it’s better to be someone’s shot of tequila than everyone’s cup of tea.

But then she still has the ability to surprise me – like when she says to me, totally out of nowhere, “Dad, I feel – oh my God – really guilty about something.”

Yeah, no, that’s one way in which we’re not alike?

I’m there, “Guilty? I’m glad that shit skips a generation. What do you feel guilty about?”


And that’s when she says the most incredible thing.

She goes, “I’ve never taken your rugby career seriously enough.”

I’m there, “That’s a lovely thing for me to hear, Honor – even though I didn’t actually have a rugby career?”

“Yeah, no,” she goes, “whenever you bang on about how great you could have been if it wasn’t for Warren Garfield–”

“Warren Gatland, Honor – although I wouldn’t usually give him the pleasure of saying his name.”

“Warren Gatland then. I always sort of, like, blank out and stop listening. But as I get older, I’m finding that I want to know more about the kind of rugby player you could have been.”

I can actually feel tears in the corners of my eyes.

She goes, “Do you know I’d love to do?”

I’m there, “What?”

“I’d love to do the tour of the Aviva Stadium with you – and you could show me where you, like, won that thing that time?”

“Are you talking about the Leinster Schools Senior Cup?”

“That’s the one.”

“Jesus, I’m sorry for crying.”

“Yeah, all the feels, Dad!”

“So when were you thinking in terms of?”

“Well, what about now?”

I dry my eyes, throw on the old sailing jacket and grab my keys. Literally 60 seconds later, we’re in the cor, then 20 minutes after that, I’m driving along Shelbourne Road, regaling my daughter – if that’s a word – with stories about my performance in the 1999 final, which the great Gerry Thornley described as “preternatural”.

Honor goes, “What does preternatural mean?”

I’m there, “I’ve forgotten, even though I look it up two or three times a year. It was a compliment.”

“Actually,” Honor goes, interrupting my flow, “would you mind pulling in here? I want to go into Avoca Handweavers for one of their Rice Krispie squares.”

I’m like, “Yeah, no, I’ll pork in this wheelchair space and wait for you.”

She goes, “No, Dad, come in with me,” and of course that’s when I should smell a definite rat.

I find an actual porking space and – yeah, no – into Avoca Handweavers we trot. And it’s only then that I realise that this entire thing has been a set-up.

Sitting in the café waiting for us are the Shottons, the Feltons, the Loschers and all the other neighbours who are trying to stop us building aportments on the Vico Road.

I’m like, “What the fock? This wasn’t about my rugby at all?”

Honor’s there, “Yeah, grow up, Dad.”

“Oh my God,” I go. “They got to you.”

She’s like, “Just listen to what they have to say, okay?”

Gorvan Loscher’s there, “She’s a smart girl, Ross.”

And under her breath, Joy Felton goes, “Yes, the only one with a brain in that family.”

I’m there, “What’s this about – as in, like, actually?”

“Well, as you know,” Gorvan goes, “we now own that rental house in which you’re living. And we’d like you out of there.”

I’m there, “You can’t throw us out. Sorcha says there’s a certain thing called an eviction ban at the moment?”

“There are ways around that,” Gwen Loscher goes.

I’m there, “In terms of?”

“We can evict you if you damage the property in any way.”

“But we haven’t damaged the property.”

“We can arrange for there to be some,” Gorvan goes.

I’m like, “Excuse me?”

“We can have someone go in there, kick some holes in the walls, flood the bathroom, set off a firework in the kitchen.”

I’m there, “Let’s go, Honor. I’ve heard enough.”

She goes, “Dad, you don’t want to live in Terenure any more than I do.”

I’m there, “Of course I don’t!”

“These people are offering us a way out.”

“You belong on the Vico Road,” Joy Felton goes. “You’re good people. You’re people like us.”

I look at Honor and I can see the sadness in her eyes. I feel bad that she was driven to these desperate lengths. Terenure will do that to you.

I’m there, “So how would it actually work?”

Gorvan’s like, “Honor said she’ll text us the next time you’re out for the day.”

Honor’s there, “I was thinking next week when we go to buy the Christmas tree.”

“Honor has made a copy of the key. We’ll send someone to smash the place up a bit – enough to justify an immediate eviction.”

There’s a reason why these people are considered Ireland’s elite.

I’m there, “Who’s the person – as in, who’s going to smash the place up?”

Honor’s like, “I talked to Ronan’s friend, Buckets of Blood. He’s agreed to do it for a grand.”

“I thought it was two grand?” Joy goes.

Honor’s there, “The other grand was a finder’s fee for me.”

She’s un-focking-believable. I’d actually be proud of her if what she’s talking about here wasn’t criminal.

I’m there, “No way. It’s out of the question.”

“Dad,” she goes, “please! We’ll be out on the streets. We’ll have no choice but to go back to Killiney.”

I end up just sighing, then I go, “Fine. Do it. But if it goes wrong, I knew fock-all about it, okay?”

We step out of there and I have to admit to having a bit of a heavy hort. I stort the cor and I point her in the direction of Terenure.

Honor’s like, “Where are you going?”

I’m there, “Er, home?”

But she goes, “Are we not doing the tour of the Aviva?”

“You mean you actually want to do that?”

“Of course I do. You can show me the end where you scored the winning kick against – wasn’t it Newbridge College?”

I have to admit, it’s a bit of a moment.

I’m there, “Honor, are you actually being serious here?”

And she goes, “Yeah, Dad – in your focking dreams!”

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly was captain of the Castlerock College team that won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 1999. It’s rare that a day goes by when he doesn’t mention it