A PINT AND A HAIRCUT True Irish Stories

All of us remember the dreadful earthquake that devastated the island of Haiti early this year. I wrote about it here. Haiti has now disappeared from news reports and from the forefront of our minds, which I suppose are not very taken up with our own economic earthquake here in Ireland. However, true to form not all Irish people have not forgotten about Haiti. There are those that are working directly on the ground with Irish aid agencies helping the people rebuild their lives and there are creative and generous people like Garret Pearse.

A native of County Longford but now living in Wicklow, Software Consultant Garret, decided to do something practical to help Haiti. Some months ago he put out a call for ‘True Irish Stories’. His intention was to compile a book which would raise funds for Concern’s work in Haiti. The response came, from established writers, bloggers and brand new writers – proving that old adage that all Irish people have a story to tell, to be true.

After more months whittling down the stories he received and making difficult choices, the book is ready and should be hitting the bookstores about now. Taking its name from one of the stories, A Pint and a Haircut features 70 tales – including one by yours truly! I am proud to be associated with this great project along with other bloggers Eolai gan Feile (whose also donated the painting on the cover), Jane Travers and Maria Duffy.

A Pint and a Haircut retails at €12.99. If its not in your bookstore ask them to order it for you (ISBN 978-1-907536-16-1) or buy it online from the publishers Londubh Books. It will keep you entertained on long winter nights and make a great present. But most of all, it will help those whose lives are still devastated in Haiti.

HOLDING ONTO HOPE

It is now a week since the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. Since then the descriptions and images coming from the beleaguered Caribbean country have been truly horrific.

In the last few days I have been visited by one particular set of images. They are of another me. A Haitian me. A wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend who has lost so much; loved ones, her home, pets, a livelihood, normality. I am struck by her almost overwhelming fear; fear of further quakes and aftershocks, fear of the aggression of others who are driven to the brink of insanity by the enormity of what has happened, fear of long nights full of foul stenches and total darkness. I am struck by her loss and her grief which has no expression as she struggles for her own survival and that of her children. And I am struck by her loss of hope. In ways that is the worst of all. A life without hope is a life without light.

And perhaps this is what we, here in the safety and security of the developed world, are called to do at this time. Perhaps our job now is to hold the light, hold the hope for our sisters and brothers in Haiti. We must stand firm while they struggle with despair and misery.

We are the carriers of the message that all is not lost. We must hold the vision of better days ahead for Haiti. As we feel their pain and bear witness to their suffering, through whatever means we choose, be it prayer, fundraising, moments of silent meditation, we hold the light.

We guard the hope of a bright, brand new day which is just beyond view. Just over the horizon.

__________________________________________

“Now the music’s gone but they carry on

For their spirit’s been bruised, never broken

They will not forget but their hearts are set

on tomorrow and peace once again

For what’s done is done and what’s won is won

and what’s lost is lost and gone forever

I can only pray for a bright, brand new day

in the town I loved so well “

Phil Coulter