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Home discomforts

A Breaffy Man in Castlebar
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Home discomforts



At what stage do you mash the spuds?
I thought it was a perfectly reasonable question to ask.
My mother said she hasn’t laughed as much since I brought down half the stage as a transition year in Davitt College during our production of Oklahoma.
But, be fair, I’d never cooked potatoes before. So how was I to know whether you mashed the spuds before or after you cooked them.
Try mashing them before so, she tells me. Ah, I see. Not even my footballing neighbour Aidan O’Shea would be able to mash uncooked spuds, strong and all as he is.
So I mash them after they’re cooked?
Yes, she says, barely able to contain the laughter.
Of course she was only loving it. Her son moves out of home and into Castlebar and isn’t gone five minutes before he’s on the phone looking for help.
I told you that you couldn’t manage without your mother, she mocks.
A few days previous to that, when I told her I was moving out, she nearly fainted. Who was she going to mother and mind?
But its only for a week I reassured her. For a piece for the paper. I’d have to live in Castlebar for a week and survive on a dole payment of €197.
But you couldn’t survive on that when you were living here, never mind living in town she retorts.
But this will be different. I won’t burn every second dinner. I won’t have to pay the Fire Brigade call-out charge (a story for another day).
So into Castlebar I go. A Breaffy man in Castlebar at last. Twenty-seven years after I was born at Mayo General Hospital and lived the first few months of my life on the Pontoon Road, I’m living in Castlebar for real.
I’m worried though - does this mean I have to transfer my Gaelic football allegiances to Castlebar Mitchels? Such a thought is enough to bring any Breaffy man out in the cold sweats.
To give you an illustration it would be even worse than being expected to stop supporting Mayo and following Roscommon. Perish the thought.
But all around me I see familiar, Breaffy faces. Seán Grealis is across the road and the Jennings’ are only out the road.
Turns out I’m far enough out of town not to be burdened by any need for an affiliation to the Mitchels.  But I’ll be more at home back in the familiar surrounds of Carrownurlaur in Breaffy next week.
And I’ll be watching how my mother does things like mashes the spuds from now on too. I might even learn how to iron my clothes while I’m at it.