A top Omagh literary historian, Dr John McGarvey, has concluded that Charles Dickens got his inspiration for A Christmas Carol after being forced to holiday in Ballyjamesduff with his parents in 1839 for a whole week.
Poring over Dickens’ diaries from that time, Dr McGarvey is adamant that the character of Scrooge could be based on over 40 different men he encountered during his stay in the 1966/67 Irish Tidy Towns Winner location.
“A few times Dickens, who was only a teenager at the time, wrote about local men as ‘the most wretched and miserable humans to walk this entire land’ and wrote of a man who liked to sit around the fire on a cold winter’s night and if it was really bad, he’d even light it.”
Nailing down who the character of Scrooge was seemed to be an impossible task though McGarvey is looking into the possibility of it being a certain ‘Hugh Reilly’ of whom it was said he was so tight that he would only breathe in and would check under his bed in the morning to see if he’d lost any sleep.
Adding strength to McGarvey’s claim, the word ‘humbug’ is a close relation to the local Cavan gaelic word ‘hámbeag’ which means ‘tight’.
“I’m leaning towards the idea that Scrooge was based on Hugh Reilly. It was said that Reilly once found a discarded pair of manmade crutches, went home and broke his son’s leg so he could use them.”
A group of over 30 Cavan supporters, inspired by the multiple good deeds by Irish supporters in France this summer, have landed a Tyrone fan in hot bother after they mended his limp and bad back on the road up to St Tiernach’s Park in Clones.
Johnny McIlVinnery, a 51-year old retired mathematician from Strabane, had apparently been claiming DLA for a farming accident which led to a limp on his left leg as well as a bad back, allegedly caused by a furious donkey’s kick when he was 12.
Clones shopkeeper Gerry Reilly witnessed the miraculous event:
“This Tyrone boy was walking up the steep hill with his walking stick and he was labouring badly. Suddenly a crowd of Cavan supporters gathered around him and started saying the rosary and stuff and lo and behold didn’t the Tyrone boy cast off his stick and started to run up the hill towards the pitch. It was miraculous.”
A close friend of McIlvinnery’s added:
“He got carried away, the bollocks. The Cavan crowd were obviously feeding off the goodwill gestures by Irish soccer fans in France and thought they could do Johnny a good turn. He bought into it and threw down his stick and ran like Linford Christie up that steep hill to the cheers of the supporters. The DLA crowd saw it on YouTube. He’s bucked now.”
McIlvinney was also later seen celebrating Tyrone’s fifth goal by initiating a conga in the Gerry Arthurs Stand.
DLA spokesman Gerry Armstrong has reminded Tyrone supporters at the Ulster Final that they’ll be watching.
The Ulster Council have confirmed that for the potentially fiery Monaghan/Tyrone game they’re considering replacing St Michael’s Enniskillen Band with the infamous Coalisland Silver Band whose drummers are known for their fighting skills and general ‘taking no crap’ appearance.
The move comes after Armagh and Cavan players brawled just as the young Enniskillen band prepared to launch into The Boys of the County Armagh for the pre-match parade. A flag dispute has been identified as the reason for the punch-up but body language experts agreed that a few heavy hitters along the back line of drummers would solve any future disagreements.
Marching band fanatic Frank Hurson from Pomeroy explained:
“It is an old tactic we have used up in Pomeroy for decades. If there was a chance of things kicking off between two rivals, we’d (Pomeroy Pipe Band) have replaced our whole rear drummer line with the drummers from the Coalisland Silver Band. Rumour has it they were much sought after in Uruguay and Chile during the 1960s when their club football pre-match parades were riddled with mass brawls and maimings.”
Ardboe octogenarian Felix Quinn reminded authorities of the importance of a muscular drumming corp. Remembering the Battle of the Battery in 1971 when Moortown and Ardboe players fought for four hours after a musical difference during the parade, he warned:
“It’s vital the Ulster Council act now. In ’71 the Moortown lads objected to our flute band playing ‘Mary, The Moortown Harlet’ around the field even though it was a favourite around our parts. They charged at the drum lads at the back but we had infiltrated the musicians with our toughest reserves. Bloodbath. The Coalisland Silver Band are ideal for these Monaghan mountain men.”
Meanwhile, rumours persist that Mickey Harte will make a few fringe players camp out overnight in Clones in order to secure the outside line during the parade. He has denied meeting with Ardoyne protestors to ask for tips.