By Fr Riddle Lynn (guest journalist from portglenone.wordpress.com)
As a result of the unpleasantness which inevitably arises in the Portglenone area, at the very mention of the topic of Antrim and Derry, we decided to ask our readers to tell us what they felt were the 20 most influential things ever to have come out of County Tyrone.
We received literally some replies, most of which were either unprintable or illegal and one involving a goat which, quite frankly, was not even physically possible. Our Pointless Statistics Team once more got on the job but when they were finished, they put together this table of results in offending order;
20. West Tyrone Constituency Boundary: The relatively new parliamentary area has been cleverly passing itself off as France for some time now resulting in its attracting thousands of tourists expecting to see Eurodisney and The Eiffel Tower. The disappointed pilgrims are forced to make do with an electricity pylon in Urney and Eurospar, Omagh.
19. Cranagh: The village adjudged by National Geographic Magazine as ‘the furthest you can go out of the way before you start coming out the other side’.
18. Paul Brady: The curly, surly ginger, singer/songwriter and professional ‘Bosco’ impersonator who brought us the classic refrain;
I wanna take you to Coalisland
And count the off-licences per man
And in the evening when the sun goes down
We’d rip the ATM from the local filling station
17. Making Pat Spillane Puke: A classic reversal of the normal pattern of Pat Spillane making everyone else hurl their fadge.
16. The Place Name ‘Sandholes’: Deriving from the Old French ‘Sans Houlles’, meaning ‘Without Arse”, the area is credited as the home of the design of cheap supermarket denim which reduces ‘buttock protrusion’ in male wearers over 35 years of age.
15. Splash: The popular Saturday night, light entertainment programme where fading celebrities imitate their own careers by falling unceremoniously from a great height without being touched in an attempt to garner advantage which is scarcely deserved. The format is based on the career of Brian Dooher. (Apart from the great height bit obviously)
14. The Carnteel Road: By an amazing freak of geography, motorists travelling directly from Aughnacloy to Dungannon will pass the end of the Carnteel Road on no less than 14 occasions.
13. The Place Name ‘Orritor’: For the sheer joy of positioning a district which sounds like a body cavity in close proximity to another called ‘Sandholes’.
12. Sir James Cricket: A comedian who has sustained a 40 year career with an act based entirely on a humorous tea-towel which my mother brought back from Westport in 1972. Don’t come here.
11. Benburb Sunday: A day where children up to the age of 12 were rounded up by monks and made to pay to slide down a hill on a carpet of rough hardboard resulting in semi-permanent scarring of skin tissue on the thigh and elbow.
10. Dennis Taylor’s Wiggly Index Finger: Widely regarded as being amongst the finest of the gargantuan-spectacle wearing ball potter’s eleven fingers.
9. Penfold from Dangermouse: No list would be complete without the pint-sized, sidekick, cartoon-moaner and his hilarious catchphrase; “Carrickmore Gaelic Fudball Club”.
8. The Amazing Disappearing Letters ‘T’& ‘W’: Used to such wonderful effect in the pronunciation of places such as ‘Cookson” ‘Stewarson’ and ‘Twincamton’.
7. Eugene McMenamin’s Unfeasibly Black Eyebrows: The Strabane based MLA holds the distinction of having been balancing two ‘Granny Grey Beard’ caterpillars on his forehead since 1984.
6. The Red Hand of Ulster: Yeah, thanks a bunch for that!
5. The Carland Bypass: The wonderful decision to remove the one corner which broke the utter monotony of driving between Cookstown and Dungannon.
4. Eponymously Titled Products which are now Defunct: Tyrone Brick, Tyrone Crystal, Tyrone Power, Tyrone Moderate Alcohol Consumers.
3. Consilio et Prudentia: Although also the names of two Late (possibly ex) (possibly Latex) Nuns from Loretto convent in Omagh, this is actually the irony valve straining motto of the county translating as…wait for it…no I’m serious….”Wisdom & Prudence”.
2. The Untimely Demise of Tyrone Tom’s Red Shorts: The ill-thought out decision to use the Greencastle man’s iconic shorts as an agreed alternative to the Union flag on Belfast City Hall.
And of course topping the list
An Ardboe octogenarian created havoc in mid-Ulster yesterday after setting out on a 37 mile journey to Omagh to visit a sister he hadn’t seen since 1988. James ‘Gonzales’ Quinn, a former eel skinner and well known for his speedy knife method, cranked up his 1957 Wolseley for a journey that would hold Tyrone to a standstill as 944 motors found themselves stuck behind him up the Omagh Road for almost four hours. One such driver, Peter Devlin from Carnan, explained:
“Jaysus it was cat. I was also heading to Omagh to pick up a part for a woman’s undergarment when I found myself directly behind Gonzales at the Cookstown roundabout. I remember being stuck behind him in 1996 but overtook him when he stopped the car near the Battery for a bite of a sandwich. This time, he wasn’t stopping. Twice I made the move to go by him only for Gonzales to veer right over the middle lines. Any other man and you’d think he was winding you up. Not Gonzales. He’s just a wild man at the wheel, and him doing 20mph.”
By the time Quinn reached Kildress, a line of 200 cars had formed behind him, mostly at a snail’s pace. One impatient passenger, reportedly a postman from Coagh, took a head stagger and went on a rampaging 70mph bolt up the wrong way, only to be catapulted up a side road towards Greencastle when Gonzales edged out at the last minute. Paddy McCann told us:
“I saw a cavalcade going past the house at Sandholes, so like any other right-thinking man I joined in. The whole family were greatly excited in the motor, guessing away at what the queue was for. I was thinking maybe a bouncy castle at Gortin but the wife was hoping for a half price day at the Centra in Drumragh. It was a bit of a let down that it was only oul Gonzales going up to see the sister. We didn’t reach Omagh til dark.”
Quinn has yet to return as police warn motorists to listen to traffic updates for information on his journey. The PSNI also confirmed they will not be prosecuting the line of toilet-stoppers during the ordeal.