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 Feuding villagers, a murder and a public enquiry, all over a Christmas Pudding ! by Billy Keane
    PEACE AT CHRISTMAS Best wishes at Christmas often come in threes and the three most commonly made on Christmas cards are for Joy, Happiness and Peace. Since the first two of these are catered for elsewhere in the Kerry News I, as a mediator working here in Kerry, have been asked to write a few words about the third, peace.
In every part of Kerry there are children and separated parents whose peace of mind on Christmas morning is being undermined by waking up to their first or second Christmas apart due to family conflict. I am going to write a little about how we need to plan for that absence so that it can be handled, not just on Christmas morning but throughout the whole year. Conflict is normal. In the natural world it is in many ways the engine of evolution. Handled creatively every conflict contains within it some opportunity for growth and every personal conflict contains the opportunity for personal growth. But that’s in a perfect world. Handled badly our conflicts destroy us and often those around us whom we least wish to harm. So how can we handle our conflicts creatively?
When a couple with children going through a separation seek the assistance of a mediator they are often surprised when it is pointed out that their relationship is not ending but rather it is going through a fundamental and painful transition. How that transition is handled is absolutely essential to the future peace of mind of children and partners alike. Separation, painful and frightening as it may be, needs to be approached gently and creatively. If that is proving impossible working alone and without help then seek the help you need. Help is always closer than you think. Peace is often thought of as simply an absence of war or conflict but it’s a lot more complex than that. Peace is an effect, not a cause. It is an effect of the quality of our relationships and this is just as true for personal relationships as it is for industrial or international ones. And it is just as true for co-parenting former partners as it is for parents who live together. Peace is hard work but it fruits, joy and happiness, are sweet. Merry Christmas. Eugene O’Shea is Director of EOS MEDIATION, a family and commercial mediation service and conflict resolution training service. He has worked in conflict resolution for the past thirty years. Contact Eugene on 064-6633914
     So it was the peacemakers persuaded The Top
Even to this day the reports echo around the shops and streets of the nearby towns that ‘the Tooreenganbonniv crowd were at it again’ . It meaning fighting outside clubs and chippers for no reason other than a love of violence and the continuation of age old conflict .
and Bottom of the village to refrain fro m eating plum pudding ever after. Tooreenganbonniv had seen its share of conflict in the centuries leading up to what became known as The Pudding Wars. There were atrocities and counter- atrocities , civil wars and not so civil wars. Indeed The Battle of Tooreenganbonniv, fought between neighbours over a game of caid, a type of ancient football played with an inflated pig’s bladder, claimed up to thirty lives in the middle part of the 19th Century.
In recent years the arrival of a determined District Justice had put an end to the Tooreenganbonniv Troubles when he sentenced several of each side to prison for three months after they beat each other up in a chipper over the stealing of a single chip. It seems one of the Top lads cried’ look behind you’ to one of the Bottom lads by way of distracting him while another Top lad stole the chip. The ambulances were as busy as the Somme.
Christmas and the police were on full alert. Tensions were high.Mamie and Nonie were persuaded to enter their puddings in the competition. Sides were taken and bets were placed. It was Top versus Bottom. Those of a historical bent likened the contest to the jousts fought between the two knights at the head of opposition factions in medieval times. The self- sacrifice of the two champions saved thousands of lives by replacing pitched battle with a two -way contest.
Yes Hector was warned. By the owner of the hotel. He was advised to make a draw out of it, for his own safety and that of the hotel owners’ staff and his family. But Hector went on about the sacred trust placed in him by God as the custodian of the traditional plum pudding. He also had a profound hatred of gooseberry jam. ‘To o provincial’ , he said it was. ‘Gooseberry jam reminds one of ghastly silage pits, flatulent sows wallowing in their own filth and noxious yokel under arm odour. ’
watching violent Christmas Day soaps on TV with scenes of murder, serial murder, infidelity , lingering death, forced weddings, ordinary fighting, kidnapping, stabbings, arguing, ambulatory sex, rap, domestic violence, drunkenness and drug taking. And so we had the second battle of Tooreenganbonniv but on this occasion there were only nine fatalities which led the local priest to conclude ‘we must be grateful for small mercies’.
It was reported in the subsequent judicial enquiry that the fight started when the local smith who was playing with the Top of the Village stuck out his tongue at the goalkeeper from The Bottom of The Village. The Bottom goalie left the bladder in between his legs for a goal. The miffed Bottom player smashed the smith’s head with his own anvil. The smith was never the same after. He horseshooed a heifer and melted down his wife’s wedding band into a gold toothpick.
The Pudding Wars though were started by outsiders some 6 years before the recent chip shop skirmish. Or so claimed both the To p and Bottom of the Village, in a rare display of unity.
There was a great tradition of ‘not giving it to say’ and’ pretending nottin’ which were the expressions used in Tooreenganbonniv for a stoic attitude towards illness and injury inflicted in the course of combat. The smith’s wife Bridie Mac Gowan declared herself delighted with the melting, saying a wedding ring was useless anyway, except for just wearing it, whereas the creation of a high end toothpick was a practical application of love and devotion. The following Valentine’s Day every husband from the Top of the Village arrived in to Mac Gowan’s forge with a wedding ring for melting down to toothpicks. There was no way they were going to let the Bottom of the Village get the impression that the smith was in any way permanently deranged by the smashing of an anvil into his cranium.
There followed a gradual shoeing of all cows, bulls
The plan was to attract locals and tourists alike. The judge was to be the well- known Dublin 4 celebrity chef and acerbic food critic Hector Livingstone.
Local sources say that the fine summer and mild autumn of 2013 has led to a bountiful harvest of gooseberries.
cross scrub bull that didn’t take kindly to being shod. The internecine rivalry has not been in the least abated by the passage of time.
The nearby town of Killarney was famous for its festivals and some bright entrepreneur, anxious to fill up his hotel in the quiet November period coming up to Christmas, advertised a ‘Christmas Plum Pudding Competition’ .
Hector Livingstone walked into a war unawares. He tasted all the puddings. There were only two entrants. No one in their right minds would get involved between the Top and Bottom. Hector was warned. There seems to be no doubt about that from the interim report of the Pudding Tribunal, now in its 5th year, at a cost of 234 million euro.
Hector voted for Nonie’s pudding and declared he wasn’t even going to award a second prize to Mame due to the overdose of gooseberry jam and ‘there was enough dirt under her calloused horse -hoof nails to grow spinach’ .
So it is that on every Christmas since there was ‘ere a sign of any plum pudding in Tooreenganbonniv bowls. Top or Bottom.
Mame Suicre, the Top of the Village matriarch, was famous for her Christmas puddings. Mame refused to reveal her secret ingredient to the Judicial Enquiry that followed the Pudding Wars. On the grounds she might incriminate herself. Mame went to jail for contempt of court but was released after six months when she told the judge, the judicial judge as opposed to Hector Livingstone, her secret ingredient was gooseberry jam.
Maybe if there was no great notice taken of the killing of Hector then there wouldn’t have been any need for such a costly tribunal. It wasn’t as ifhewasoneofakind. There are more celebrity chefs in Ireland than in any other country in the world without even bringing per capita or the size of us or being such a small country and all that into it. The newspaper columnists who outnumbered the celebrity chefs by three to one were on a slow week. There was no news much. The columnists called for sworn judicial enquiry. The Taoiseach of the time was on holiday in a place without a mobile connection, on an island not off Kerry, but off The Maldives, and so the running of the country was left to the Minister for Logistics . He buckled under pressure after just the first wave of columns
The Chief State Pathologist came to the conclusion that Hector died from choking on a large quantity of plum pudding he had been forced to consume by vigilantes. The pathologist noted the pudding was heavily laced with gooseberry jam. No one was ever brought to justice in the intervening years and it seems not one single person from either the Top or the Bottom was prepared to give evidence.
Could it be that there will be clandestine pudding eating in Tooreenganbonniv this Christmas?
Nonie Knowles was a We l l Road woman from the Bottom of the Village and she was famous for the moistness of her Christmas Puddings. Some say there was enough poitin in one bowl of Nonie’s pudding to put a driver well over the drink driving limit and this may well have been a significant aggravating factor in the subsequent
Nonie’s supporters lit up a huge celebratory bonfire on the Christmas Day after the Pudding Competition, right on the peace line, which was the narrow bridge separating the Top from The Bottom. There was drink involved. In and out of puddings. It only took Strand 1 of the Pudding Inquiry the bare three years to figure out that much. Strand 2 will deal with claims insidious television programmes fuelled the tempers of the beaten
He was found dead in bed the next morning.
The same local sources say the gooseberry bushes on the Top side of the bridge, near the stream, were stripped bare within a few hours of their first maturity. In all autumns since the Second Battle of Tooreenganbonniv the fruit was left for the birds. In the weeks that followed the harvesting of the gooseberries, the smoke from a poitin still was seen rising from the wooded slopes of Tooreenganbonniv Mountain.
 and heifers which strange Christmas carnage.
practice only ended when the The chip shop factions were smith was gored to death by a released from prison for the
and promised an enquiry, pudding makers. It seems even before the Sunday some of those involved in papers came out. the killings had been

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