Oh, she’s happy out now. I thought I’d live for another couple of years, and I’d bury her before me, the cunt.

Don’t know if I am in the Pound grave, or the Fifteen Shilling grave? Fuck them anyway if they plonked me in the Ten Shilling plot after all the warnings I gave them. The morning I died I calls Patrick in from the kitchen, “I’m begging you Patrick, I’m begging you, put me in the Pound grave, the Pound grave! I know some of us are buried in the Ten Shilling grave, but all the same …”

I tell them to get me the best coffin down in Tim’s shop. It’s a good oak coffin anyway. I am wearing the scapulars. And the winding sheet … I had them ready myself. There’s a spot on this sheet! Like a smudge of soot. No, not that. A daub of finger. Who else but my daughter-in-law! ’Tis like her dribble. Oh, my God, did Nell see it? I suppose she was there. Not if I had anything to do with it …

Look at the mess Kitty made of my covering clothes. I always said that that one and the other one, Biddy Sarah, should never be given a drop to drink until the corpse was gone from the road outside the house. I warned Patrick not to let them near my winding sheet if they had a drop taken. All they ever wanted was a corpse here, there, or around the place. The fields could be bursting with crops, and they’d stay there, if she could cadge a few pence at a funeral …

I have the crucifix on my breast anyway, the one I bought myself at the mission … But where’s the black one that Tom’s wife, Tom the crawthumper, brought me from Knock, that last time they had to lock him up? I told them to put that one on me too. It’s far nicer than this one. Since Patrick’s kids dropped it the Saviour looks a bit crooked. He’s beautiful on this one, though. What’s this? My head must be like a sieve. Here it is, just under my neck. ’Tis a pity they didn’t put it on my breast.

They could have wrapped the rosary beads better on my fingers. Nell, obviously, did that. She’d love it if it fell to the ground just as they were putting me in the coffin. O Lord God, she better stay miles away from me …

I hope to God they lit the eight candles on my coffin in the church. I left them in the corner of the press under the rent book. You know, that’s something that was never ever on any coffin in the church, eight candles! Curran had only four. Tommy the Tailor’s lad, Billy, had only six, and he has a daughter a nun in America.

I tells them to get three half-barrels of porter, and Ned the Nobber said if there was drink to be got anywhere at all, he’d get it, no bother. It had to be that way, given the price of the altar. Fourteen or fifteen pounds at least. I spent a shilling or two, I’m telling you, or sent somebody to all kinds of places where there was going to be a funeral, especially for the last five or six years when I felt myself failing. I suppose the Hillbillies came. A pity they wouldn’t. We went to theirs. That’s how a pound works in the first place. And the shower from Derry Lough, they’d follow their in-laws. Another pound well spent. And Glen Booley owed me a funeral too … I’d be surprised if Chalky Steven didn’t come. We were at every single one of his funerals. But he’d say he never heard about it, ’til I was buried.

And then the bullshit: “I’m telling you Patrick Lydon, if I could help it at all, I would have been at her funeral. It wouldn’t have been right if I wasn’t at Caitriona Paudeen’s funeral, even if I had to crawl on my naked knees. But I heard nothing, not a bit, until the night she was buried. Some young scut …” Steven is full of crap! …

I don’t even know if they keened me properly. Yes, I know Biddy Sarah has a nice strong voice she can go at it with if she is not too pissed drunk. I’m sure Nell was sipping and supping away there also. Nell whining and keening and not a tear to be seen, the bitch! They wouldn’t have dared come near the house when I was alive …

Oh, she’s happy out now. I thought I’d live for another couple of years, and I’d bury her before me, the cunt. She’s gone down a bit since her son got injured. She was going to the doctor for a good bit before that, of course. But there’s nothing wrong with her. Rheumatism. Sure, that wouldn’t kill her for years yet. She’s very precious about herself. I was never that way. And it’s now I know it. I killed myself working and slaving away … I should have watched that pain before it got stuck in me. But when it hits you in the kidneys, actually, you’re fucked …

Máirtín Ó Cadhain, The Dirty Dust (Cré na Cille), translated by Alan Titley.

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