From Glasgow to Saturn

from_glasgow_to_saturn_peter_mccune

This week, I attended From Glasgow to Saturn’s Issue 39 launch at Dram! It was great to see the finished book and to listen to the readings by the other contributors. I also gave a reading, because it still scares me to read aloud to groups of people, because I want to get other these nerves eventually. This is the the third FGtS anthology that features a piece of my writing and I’m chuffed to bits that the editors liked my submission. This edition will hopefully be available to buy from Amazon shortly and you can buy the previous edition (which contains one of my essays) here.

From Glasgow to Saturn is a student-run magazine that opens its submissions to current students and alumni of the University of Glasgow. The team of students running each issue usually changes, which brings a new perspective to each edition — which you can see from the contrasting cover art over the last three editions in the image above. 

This year, I submitted a collection of narratives from the perspective of different Irish stones: The Giant’s Causeway, Croagh Patrick, and Newgrange. I originally wrote this piece with one more narrative (the Blarney Stone) and I had an idea that the Blarney Stone imparted its gift of the gab to the other stones of Ireland. Each stone is from one of the four provinces of Ireland and the original collection was my attempt to explore the Irish landscape, its English dialects and Irish language, religion and pagan mythology, and my own feelings about identity and Irish stereotypes. When I decided to submit my Irish Stones quartet to From Glasgow to Saturn, I decided that my Blarney Stone narrative was a little too heavy handed, so I removed it. Reading it back now, I cringe at a few bits, but I think it’s alright. So I thought it might be nice to share it here. This is the fourth ‘Irish Stone’ narrative that didn’t make it to my final draft.  

 

The Blarney Stone

‘Com’on, sit down beside me, let’s get a look at you. Have you been here before? Nah, course you haven’t; I’d remember someone like you. You can kiss me if you like? Everyone else has, and not just the Irish. I’ve had US presidents and movie stars puckering up to give me a póg. I’ve had writers, musicians and poets all hang over the edge of that platform to plant a big one right on me. I’ve travelled to the four provinces of Ireland and bestowed my gift in each. Because of me this island’ll talk to you itself; the bloody rocks and mountains and tombs’ll talk your ear off if you let’em.

‘You might want to know if I give everyone the gift of the gab? Ack, I wouldn’t want to just come out and say it; sure, where’s the fun in that? Sure you can see for yourself when you go away with the taste of me on your lips. See if you can reach just the right words to calm down an argument, or if you can charm that the one you have eyes for to spend the night with you. I’ll tell you my stories first, and you can tell me which one you believe. I believe them all, but then I would do—I’m the teller.

‘Will I tell you about old Cromac and Clíodhna? Or about that old witch he saved from drowning? Fine. Old Cromac and Clíodhna it is. I can tell you want to hear it just as you can tell I want to tell it.

‘Clíodhna was the Queen of the Banshees. She still is. And she was fair and bonny and all that fluff heroines always are in stories. She ruled the Little People back when they weren’t so little, back when they were The Tuatha Dé Danann. Clíodhna liked to watch the ordinary people too and she was watching the King of Munster, old Cromac MacCarthy himself, as he made his castle and got into a bit of an argument about it. Someone else I can’t remember the name of was saying it was his castle and his land, and people were believing him. So things weren’t looking good for old Cromac.

‘Cromac respected the fairies and he told the old tales better than most, so he asked someone for help—not dreaming for a second that Clíodhna, the bloody queen of the lot, was watching. She told him to kiss the first rock that he found, and if he did that then everything would be alright. He found me jutting out in his path and slapped a big one on me. I’d just been any-old rock before then, but just before he kissed me Clíodhna cast a spell on me, turning me into a conduit for her power.

‘Cromac could talk for Munster after that, and people would always listen. He was able to convince everyone that the castle was his and his alone. He put me in the castle as a way of keeping me close and thanking me for what I’d done.

‘Another story—which is also true—has old Cromac finding a witch drowning and he saves her. To say thanks she gives him a magic stone (me) and tells him to kiss it.

‘Another true story says I’m half of the original Stone of Scone, where the first Scottish kings sat. It says The Bruce gave me to old Cromac after he sent thousands of men over to help the Scots win Bannockburn.

‘Another tale says Jacob used me as a pillow and the prophet Jeremiah brought me to Ireland. I remember how soundly he slept against me.

‘Another story says I was the rock Moses struck with his staff to make water for the Israelites as they escaped from slavery.

‘What? You don’t believe me? Which story? They’re all true. Every single one. Stay a while, have a pint, let me convince you.’

 

 

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