The off-licence capital of the world, Coalisland, has a new business venture to add to its 323 alcohol outlets after the local church turned its vestry into an off-licence in order to stem falling numbers over recent years.
St Dennis’s Church is believed to be the first to make such a move and has been hailed as ‘an interesting development’ by authorities in the Vatican.
The vestry was discontinued after Coalisland priests were instructed by the bishop to get ready in their cars in future or just wear their ceremonial clothes all the time.
In a press release today, the bishop explained:
“I’m confident that our congregation numbers will thrive, knowing that straight after the Mass has ended they can charge up the aisle, get three bottles of Prosecco for £15 and head home knowing they’ve killed two birds with the one stone. The clergy themselves get 10% off because of the loss of a vestry to change in and look at their phones.”
A dry run last night proved a great success after a month’s mind was attended by just over 3000 church goers, the majority of whom didn’t know the recently deceased at all.
Tomorrow’s special deals include 16 bottles of Peroni for £30 or three cases of Buckfast for £39.99.
Sources close to Tyrone GAA headquarters in Omagh have revealed that the sporting organisation are to offer a radical and controversial suggestion to help ease the current panic over plot space for the deceased.
An emergency meeting this morning, convened after a startling headline in the Irish News this morning over limited graveyard space, resulted in a motion tabled that the GAA in the county employ willing and able recently-deceased Gaels as umpires and on some occasions as linesmen in order to fulfil the minimum requirement for fixtures especially with the imminent threat of strikes from match officials over match-day fees looming large. All umpires, alive or dead, must be between the ages 65 and 80 as the current rule stands.
Our source, who confirmed a doctor was also in attendance to explain the medical side of things, explained how the motion was passed with an overwhelming majority:
“The doctor was was very convincing. He knew his stuff. He says the rigor mortis was perfect for the stance of an umpire and that many supporters wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anyway. The county secretary added that only those who signed a legal contract before death allowing their bodies to be used for posthumous officiating would be considered, and only if they’d paid up the annual membership fee for their club right up until they expired.”
Our source went on to reveal how a committee member suggested the deceased volunteer could use their club colours, continuing their great club volunteer work beyond the grave. When questioned on how scores and wides would be signalled, he explained:
“Well, an electrician from Dromore said he could wire up lights to their coats so if it was a wide the ref would press a button and red lights would flash on the umpire’s coat, with orange lights for a point and green lights for a goal. It seemed pretty straightforward and goes a long way to call the bluff from the upcoming umpire strikers.”
The Church have yet to respond to the offer but reports suggest they’re open to any solution to solve the overcrowding issue. However, the county’s Goalkeeping Union have voiced concerns at how off-putting it might be for goalkeepers, especially for evening games with a sparse crowd in attendance, to have two dead umpires beside him.
A motion to use the expired volunteers as actual referees was narrowly rejected.
Coalisland hit the international news circuit this week when the cast and crew of Fr Ted found themselves caught up in a series of protests and counter protests in the town. The shenanigans revolves around the appearance of a well known psychic at the local theatre, Madame Rizzle, who has almost sold out a whistle-stop 4-day tour of the area.
Local worrier, Seamus McBonzo from Brackaville, explained the concern from one section of the community:
“It’s a load of balls, like. These people make stuff up and rip off the vulnerable who want to time travel after watching Dr Who or something. Sure I contacted the Madame herself and asked her to tell me who’d win the play-off between Newtownstewart and Derrytresk this weekend. She said Derrytresk would win by five goals to three. Con artist. I’m happy to announce that Fr Dougal Maguire from Fr Ted as well as some other real priests will be protesting on the night. Down with this sort of thing.”
Fans of the psychic world have also planned a counter protest at the same time outside the local church. Self-proclaimed medium Henry McCann from Annagher says he’ll be there with his placards too:
“Preying on the vulnerable? Explain to me the difference between our Madame and Fr Nolan telling the poor of the town to throw their last pennies into a basket, and then him buying a baste of a house, three Lithuanian maids, a Merc and a couple of holidays to Tenerife. Some con artists in that organisation. Sure I went to confessions last year and made the whole stuff up. He hadn’t a clue. Down with this sort of thing.”
McCann claims that he has secured the services of Fr Jack from the Channel 4 show to protest using the authentic banners from Fr Ted.
The Vatican confirmed they will be monitoring the situation closely using PSNI CCTV and will use reinforcements from Maynooth if there’s a ‘slappin session’ between the protests. Madame Rizzle predicts a peaceful evening.
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.