Recent tax returns have confirmed that a Greencastle entrepreneur has pocketed over £3.2m in profit due to his ‘Sperrin Air’ production line which sees customers buying wheelbarrows full of air he has gathered from high up in the Sperrin Mountains.
Dermie Doherty, who has over 140 wheelbarrows currently in action, travels up Sawel Mountain in the Sperrin range by foot and, armed only with his wheelbarrow, collects the natural high-altitude air by walking around randomly before wheeling it back to his yard and emptying it into jam jars or leaving it in the barrows for bulk sale.
However, despite a roaring trade and soaring profits, concerns have emerged over serious side effects including cheering on Derry and fancying close relatives. Long-time customer Patsy Hurl of Cappagh explained:
“There’s no better feeling than opening up a jar of Sperrin Air and breathing in the delights of pure mountain atmosphere. At £39.99 a shot it’s not cheap but you definitely feel healthier. But they way I cheered Emmet McGuckin’s penalty against my home county was a bit disconcerting. And then I fought a lad over my cousin’s affections at the Slaughtneil disco. I’m weaning off it.”
Doherty has promised to label the barrows or jam jars with a health warning that some may suffer Derry-related side effects but argued that the overall positives outweighed the cons:
“Only 3 in every 5 are showing signs of Derryitis. To me that’s good odds. I’m shipping 35 wheelbarrows full of Sperrin Air every day so I’m doing something right.”
Health watchdog ‘Fresh’ have asked customers to be careful when wheeling the air home as any spillage of the air from the barrow could contaminate Tyrone air with catastrophic effects.
An 88-year old Glenelly man, who claims to be the loneliest man on the planet, revealed that he hasn’t spoken to anyone since 1986 until this interview today.
As I made my may to the quaint ramshackle home of Peader Kearney’s under the shadow of Slieve McCreesh, I couldn’t help but notice how the temperature dramatically dropped the closer we got to the Sperrin Mountains. From a balmy 12 degrees in Plumbridge, we were now negotiating temperatures of minus 14 as the truck carely weaved its way up Kearney’s loanan in the heart of Glenelly.
Although we had arranged the meeting by phone the previous day, we had to knock on his door for 20 minutes before he opened it and greeted my cameraman and I with
‘What the fcuk do ye want?’
I was now face to face with ‘Glenelly Man’. Once inside, I was reminded of the pictures we looked at in our History books at the Christian Brothers’ School in Omagh of old shebeens in West Mayo around the turn of the 19th century. Some sticks were burning in the middle of the bare room as Peader delicately placed himself on a decrepid rocking chair, using a blunt pen knife to cut a small branch into what would surely be a sharp weapon. I asked him what he was doing, knowing full well he was preparing himself for catching some live food later in the day, maybe a salmon or small bear:
“Mind yer own fcukin business and I won’t be makin ye anything to ate either.”
Taking the opportunity to explore his surroundings as he worked on his spear-like killing machine, I couldn’t help but admire the idyllic lifestyle Kearney had embraced – away from electronic devices from mobile phones to microwaves.
A small stream quietly rippled along behind his back yard, its hushed tones in keeping with this little piece of paradise Kearney had embraced as his own. The unmistakeable sound of a corncrake warbled in the distance as rabbits and hares danced in unison on the north Tyrone horizon.
On returning to the house, Kearney was still in the same spot, still chipping away at the piece of wood which now resembled a small but lethal steel-sharp spear. Trying to find out what makes the man tick, I asked him if he missed talking and interacting with others – sharing experiences and deliberating over current affairs.
He looked me straight in the eye, grimaced slightly, scratched his beard and said:
“Shut the dur on the way out.”
As I pulled out of Kearney’s loanan, I knew I’d probably never see this great man again, a man at one with nature and himself. This instinct was confirmed when I saw Peader in the rear view mirror giving me the middle finger and shouting something before firing one of his tiny spears with pin-point accuracy at my tyre, bursting it instantly. I saw him smirk, offer another more modern hand gesture and slam his door shut.
I just drove on, smiling to myself that Peader Kearney had it all.
Following Eamon Dunphy’s four letter word slip-up yesterday live on RTE during their World Cup coverage, parents and teachers across Ulster have reported a rise in bad language today in homes and schools, highlighting the popularity of both football and Eamon Dunphy.
Dunphy, who has since made two apologies for his error, believed the cameras were off air before he offered his opinion on Neymar’s penalty kick for Brazil against Croatia. Headmaster Michael McGlone indicated that it is too late for his class of P6s from Greencastle, at the bottom of the Sperrin Mountains:
“Ah, I know mistakes can happen but Holy Jaysus this morning has been an eye-opener for me in terms of the power and influence TV has over youngster these days. At 8:45am, on his way in to the school, our head boy and chief altar helper said to me ‘Master, I’m hope there’s no fuckin homework today as it’s fuckin hot again out there’. This boy hasn’t cursed since birth.”
It’s not just in the classroom that colourful language has been on the increase, as mother of three Julie O’Neill from Brocagh on the shores of Lough Neagh explained:
“The children were up watching RTE last night as we’re big Mexico fans because we love their food, especially all that taco shit. We paid no heed to the slip-up last night and assumed the children had not heard it. Well, this morning I overhead my two youngest Peter (6) and Mary (5) fuckin and blindin away about the Corn Flakes. I thought two work men were in that kitchen, not my precious angels. Eamon Dunphy, you’re one fuckin bollocks!”
Meanwhile, it has been rumoured that Dunphy will tour Ireland to visit schools to promote ‘Say No To Bad Fuckin Language’ although the tour’s risky title is still under review.
Following on from yesterday’s news that Greencastle had tabled a motion at the Tyrone Congress that the Sperrins be moved from their present location, it has emerged that they have received vociferous backing from Kildress, Gortin and Donemana. In an added twist to the sensational developments, Glenelly, Strabane and Plumbridge have promised to fight tooth and nail to keep the mountain range exactly where it is for varying reasons. Donemana’s Richard O’Neill explains the stance of the four pro-removal townlands:
“Yousins in the rest of the county don’t know what it’s like to wake up til this giant thing towering over you everyday like big mad parent. Every buckin day. And what it is? A big hape of moss and bogland – useless to man and beast. They talk about the beauty of Mullaghcarn Mountain. It’d be damn well beautiful to me if it was sitting in Benburb or Trillick. And it’s freezing here. The sun can’t get at us. Sure you only have to look at the complexion of us indigenous peoples stretching the whole way across to Lissan. You’d think we’d been in solitary confinement all our lives with the gaunt skin and bags under the eyes. There’s so much we can’t see here – Portrush, the Aurora Borealis and the North Pole. It’s just not fair and another thing – there’s no drying at all here if the wind is coming from the north. That gigantic useless lump of turf blocks the whole thing. We’re calling on the Tyrone Sperrin Society to consider moving the range to the south west of the county of maybe abroad to Portygal or Egypt.”
Glenelly’s tourism spokesman, Eddie Parton, refutes the claims of the foursome:
“Listen, if them mountain glipes from Kildress hadn’t cut down all the trees 6000 years ago then it’d be a thing of beauty. They’ve greedily bogged the land out with their incessant burning of things. They’re always burning things down there. The Sperrins are crucial to tourism around these parts. Hikers usually try to go up them only to find it’s too wet and soggy and just freewheel down to here or to The Plum to buy coats and flasks and things. The Sperrins are here to stay I say. What about that lovely song concerning Slieve Gallion Brae:
My name is Joe McGarvey as you might understand
I come from Derryginnet and I own a farm of land
Are there better lyrics on the planet than that opener?”
The four protagonists have been slow to distance themselves from a telephoned threat from a group calling themselves the Strabane Slashers to the tourism board warning that if the vote doesn’t go in favour of the removalists, they’ll blow the mountain range up anyway. Richard O’Neill added:
“We do not condone the use of explosives to rid ourselves of this monstrosity but let’s not get carried away. There’s worse things in the world than a couple of lads from Strabane blowing up the Sperrins.”
The Tyrone tourism board are to make a decision next week. They will also try to ask the Sperrins themselves by listening to the ground with a cocked ear.