The sleepy Tyrone village of the Rock was plunged into mayhem last night when rival gangs from Pomeroy and Cookstown clashed on a rampart just off the Rockdale Road.
Cudgels, shillelaghs and wet sods of turf were said to have been employed to settle a long-standing argument over the comical merit of the award-winning sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys.
With Pomeroy fiercely in the no-camp, they faced stiff opposition from Cookstown locals who have recently started up a Mrs Brown Appreciation Society. Some were said to have attended the pre-arranged brawl dressed in the same garb as Mrs Brown herself. Eye-witness reports state that the Pomeroy nay-sayers came out slightly on top but that analysis is sternly denied by Cookstown Mrs Brown Society chairperson Jay Sheehy:
“1-0 til us I thought. Mrs Brown is the best comedy since Jasper Carrot. Them Pomeroy ones are so serious. Like, when was the last time you went there to see a pantomime? Their local primary school did a version of Schindler’s List for Christmas. Like for Jaysus sake. There were parents throwing up. This fighting has to stop and that will only be achieved when they lighten up a bit.”
The Pomeroy squad remained unrepentant:
“We fairly laid into them, boys,” claimed Fran Grimes. “I’ve seen funnier month’s minds that that shower of shite they call Mrs Brown’ Boys. I’m ashamed to be Irish so I am. It’s nearly worse than The Hole in the Wall Gang. Nearly. Seriously like, it’s Fr Ted in drag. Pre-historic lump of dung: Man with dress says ‘feck’; Drunken audience piss themselves laughing; repeat for half an hour. A friend of mine started to watch it, regretted it, couldn’t find the remote so attempted to burn his own house down. This is only the beginning too. The Glenavon and Greenvale are going to cut up rough this weekend over it. And that’s not a real audience I think. Just a pile of turkeys or something. “
Although the PSNI were aware of the arranged brawl, the decided to let the fight go ahead for ‘a bit of craic in the Rock’.
An internal argument in Brocagh amongst the clergy has left Brocagh on the “verge of war” according to local historian Benjamin McCorry. The row was initiated when new PP for the area Fr Davidson told the congregation at 11 o’clock mass last Sunday from the pulpit to stop calling it Brocagh Chapel and to adopt the correct title ‘Brocagh Church’. Word quickly filtered through to Fr McCann, a Brocagh born and bred priest, who used his homily at the 12 o’clock in Clonoe to denounce anyone who was prepared to follow Fr Davidson’s directive.
“Davidson is a Ballinderry blow-in, the bollox. What would he know about the way we talk. I’ve always called it Brocagh Chapel as did my father and my father’s father. I couldn’t give two shites about what the difference is between a chapel and a church. It’s the way we roll. Let me make myself clear – if I hear anyone calling it Brocagh Church who previously called it chapel then don’t be thinking you’ll be getting anything at communion time. I’d like to think that’ll be applied to Last Rites too.”
Approximately 150 loyal Davidson followers walked out at that stage with abuse from the pulpit ringing in their ears. “Aye, away ye go ye good for nothing fat bastard”, Fr McCann reportedly shouted at a prominent Brocagh businessman as he left his seat which resulted in a wrestling session in the aisle between at least a dozen opposing parishioners. A shot was reportedly heard outside soon after, though many think it was just a timed gun-scare for chasing crows from the local strawberry field. Historian Benjamin McCorry predicted that this was just the start of it:
“There’s a history of strife over words in Brocagh. In 1799 there was a massive brawl up near Mountjoy Castle over whether it was ‘Lough Neagh’ or ‘Lock Neagh’. The resulting mini-townland war almost wiped out the whole population. I’d fear for the future. We all know that Fr Davidson is officially correct but that doesn’t mean we should change it. We still say ‘tay’ ‘flure’ and ‘dure’ don’t we? Anyone could saying ‘tea’ or ‘door’ is seen as some kind of marbled-mouthed uppity gobshite. I’m with McCann on this. Chapel for me.”
Although Pope Benedict has yet to intervene, rumours suggest the Vatican is waiting to see how the parish bulletin pans out this weekend as both priests have asked for a few lines each to rally their troops.