Wednesday, 4 March 2020


So, at the end of January I had a dream calling on me to exert my ego, have purpose and take action. Which I did!

I had just mastered the skills of composing a score and mixing my voice with artificial musical instruments and my whistle. (Well, acquired sufficient skill to produce some kind of product). So, during February I wrote scores for nine James Joyce airs (that I had been making up down the years), and a few of my own songs, and launched them onto the digital services (YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, etc.)

This took hours of hard purposeful labour and probably expresses to some degree who I am. At any rate this is my  work and my creation.

This February proved a good month to do it. The days were bitter cold. Down the country they had lashings of floods, (though in Glasnevin we don't see that much of the actual rain) and it was not tempting to be out and about. Might as well be sitting at the computer solving all those little quirky problems that trying to accomplish anything places in your path, and singing.

I decided to have my own recording label, Glossneen. Well, the leading labels were hardly looking out for me.

All in all, I feel more lively and purposeful as a result. I thank my dream for calling attention to my ego deficit.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

It's in rhe Air!

Well, it seems that it is "in the air" and that this fact is due to "the time of the year." (I mean my "Pierce Wise" dream, and its interpretation, in my last two Dream Diary posts).

I have just heard of a ninety-five year old woman who, on the day of my Pierce Wise dream, surprised everybody by taking a taxi into town, and staying overnight in a hotel.

This adventure was obviously a gesture to demonstrate that she was still an independent personality, just as my dream was a call by my subconscious to my Ego to re-assert mine.

It is in the air because of the time of the year. Today is the feast day of the "Matron Saint" of Ireland, Saint Brigid. This saint is thousands of years older than Christianity; and "Saint Brigid's Day," or the ancient "Brídeog," announces Spring. Today, grass starts to grow and the birds come out to sing. There is a feeling of waking up (in Ireland anyway: other European countries may be later). It is probably the little bit of extra day-light that wakens us up.

You don't have to be elderly to experience this re-enlivenment. Indeed, I experienced a similar emotion when I was 12, and wrote a poem in Irish expressing it:
Nuair a thagann Féil' Bríde,
Nuair ' imíonn an Geimhreadh,
Deir guth im' chroí
Gur breá bheith beo.

Tig fás le féar;
Tig úire san aer,
Giorracht san oíche
Is fad sa ló.

Bíonn gach rud meidhreach
San Earrach aerach;
Éirionn an ghrian
Agus scaipeann an ceo.

This translates as:

When Bridget's Feast comes,
When Winter goes,
A voice in my heart
Says its wonderful to be alive.

Growth comes to grass;
Freshness comes to air,
Shortness to night
And length to day.

Everything is merry
In the airy Spring;
The sun rises
And the fog disperses.
Of course, the fog that disperses is the winter gloom we have felt throughout December and January. In recent years, I have re-written this poem as The First of Feb.

Today is bitter cold, as we would wish St Brigid's day to be. This is because bitter weather is necessary for a few days more to kill off the Hag who governed during the dark days in order to allow the young Princess Brigid to rule. Otherwise, according to folk observation over hundreds of years, the hag of winter will re-assert herself later in February and March.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

A Question of Identity

This morning, reviewing last night's dream, I had no idea how to interpret it. Now, at bedtime, the meaning is clear.

The characters in a dream are usually, and in this case, aspects of one's own personality. So Pearse Wyse, in the dream, is my centre of wisdom, and it says to my  ego: "I don't know who you are." In other words the Centre of Wisdom is pointing out to the Ego that my identity (approaching my 77th birthday) is weak, probably meaning that I lack purpose. Should I be driven at this hour of my life? My Centre of Wisdom seems to think so. It is saying, in effect, "Wake up; have goals; re-learn who you are. Re-energise yourself."

Co-incidentally, tomorrow also marks our neighbour Great Britain's start into its new independent identity. And, as to its leader, Boris Johnson, well there's an energising Ego to emulate!

Pierce Wise

People tend to engage in Dream Watching for a period of time and then discontinue. Carl Jung told his clients how to do it: when going to bed, tell yourself that you will keep a small part of the conscious mind open to watch the dreams. When so engaged, we remember a lot of our dreams, but must jot them down soon after rising, or they will be forgotten. When not Dream Watching, the sub-conscious mind sometimes takes it upon itself to communicate with the conscious by making a dream break through into consciousness. This happened me last night.

I dreamt I was in a "familiar" cosy mountain hostel, with a gathering of people. I was supposed to know all these people, but had only a half-knowledge of them. They were from my previous positions in life, work colleagues, fellow students, cousins, and so on. However, those I had previously known had become unfamiliar. Others were not my original associates, but the next generation of their families.

A new arrival came to the door, and someone said to me, "Come and say hello to Pierce Wise." I looked over and saw a man, who looked something like Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair. I guessed this must be Pierce Wise. I did not recognise him one bit (in the dream), but reckoned, since these were all supposedly my acquaintances, I must also have been, at some stage, an acquaintance of this man. So, I decided to go over, presume this former acquaintance, and say hello.

I walked across the room, proferred my hand to "Pierce Wise," and said, "How are you Pierce?"

He looked at me with piercing eyes and said "I do not know who you are!"

This woke me up.

It seems to me that the subconscious was sending me some message, but I do not know what that message is. The subconscious uses puns and metaphors in its communications with the conscious mind, so I imagine "Pierce Wise" means something.

More extraordinarily, the subconscious is very often very accurate in its data. When I woke up, I was, in my conscious state, aware that Pearse Wyse had been a leading politician, but could not remember what he looked like. Accessing the Web, I found that my dream image was actually a perfect snap-shot of the man.

The Progressive Democrats at their height outside Leinster House. Pearse Wyse is at the extreme right

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Trauma Remembered

I woke up with the memory of a childhood trauma pulsating in my head.

Around 10 years' old, I had been "tight-rope walking" on the top of the iron railings that divided our house from our neighbour's.

The type of railings on which I was tight-rope walking (the car and flower pots are new since that event of 60 years' ago).
Mother had often warned me against this practice, and, no doubt, forbidden it on the basis of its inherent danger. I protested that it was not dangerous for me, since I had the skill to avoid an accident. She warned that I  could lose my balance and fall. I answered that, of course I would lose my balance; I always lost my balance after a few steps, but, as soon as I began to lose my balance, I would hop off the railing and land on my two feet. Each time I went onto the railing, I hoped to extend the distance walked.

On this one fateful day, however, as I went to hop off the railing, the side of my foot momentarily touched against the railing, and, instead of landing on my feet, I toppled over and crashed head-first on the concrete path. The brunt of the fall was taken by the bones surrounding my right eye: my forehead, nose and cheek bone. Waking from my sleep this morning, these three areas remembered the trauma as if it were only recent.

I know what brought this memory to the fore. It was the selfie I recently took for the cover of my second book of poetry, recently published:

The crookedness of my nose is very apparent in this photo. Hippocrates asserts that a crooked nose is always evidence of a poor physician, since a broken nose can always be restored to its correct shape, either by the physician's hands, or by stuffing the nostrils and using plaster and bandages on the outside to keep the shape.

My physician was my mother. I must have been knocked unconscious by the fall, and awoke in bed with my mother ministering to me. She gave me something to drink and asked me questions to elucidate the extent of my concussion. She offered me a chocolate finger, but I thought it was her own finger.

I felt vague, particularly in the area of my head impacted, as well as in pain. I drifted back to sleep. It was observed that a doctor was not necessary, so my nose remains crooked.

The memory of the trauma is still there in my head. My left nostril is narrower than my right and more inclined to get blocked.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Lost in London

I dream I am visiting my brother in London. It is nearly 50 years since my brother lived in London, so this is a throwback to old times. However, the brother in my dream bears the features and characteristics of my son, Ronan, instead of those of my brother.

I am as ignorant of the geography of London as I was the first time I visited it nearly 50 years ago. It is just a huge, shapeless, conglomerate.

We are standing at a bus-stop, somewhere on the outskirts of London, accompanied by a poor boy (young adult). I notice a shoe-shop near the bus-stop, with a sale sign up in the window. I realise that I have a discount voucher for shoes in my wallet, and that the poor boy could do with a new pair of shoes, so I give him my voucher and urge him to the shop.

My brother thinks the voucher may not be enough to cover a pair of shoes he might choose, so decides to go into the shop with the poor boy.

Just then, a bus arrives at the stop. Is it our bus? The brother nods, but continues to the shop. I try to hold the bus, but the driver pulls off. Interestingly, the model of (double-decker) bus is that of today (with entrance door beside the driver, rather than at the back, and no conductor), rather than that of 50 years ago.

Soon after, another bus pulls in at the stop. I guess that there are several bus-routes that use this stop. Would this bus also suit us? I look at the name of the destination, displayed on the bus, and guess: yes! that sounds like where we are going.

Again, I try to hold the bus, expecting my brother and his companion to emerge from the shop at any moment. I reach the door, and have to step onto the bus to avoid missing it. I have to proceed to a seat. I go up the stairs and take a seat where I have a view of the shop door.

Brother and companion emerge; but now there is a surge of people onto the queue in front of them. It looks like they won't make the bus. I try to mouth to the brother a message that I will wait for them at the terminal. What is the name of the destination? I can't remember. It was something like "Tomorrow Market." I try to mouth "Tomorrow," meaning that I would meet him at "Tomorrow Market." The brother nods; indicating, "Yes: I'll see you there."

The bus pulls off. Now it occurs to me that "Tomorrow Market" may not be the correct name of the destination and that the brother might have understood, "See you tomorrow," rather than, "See you at the destination."

It is very warm on the bus. I notice that my neighbour's head is resting on my shoulder, and that he/she is asleep. I don't know what kind of person it is, because I can't actually see him/her.

This is my predicament, uncomfortably warm on a London bus, with an un-knowable stranger's head resting on my shoulder. I am in a city of 10 million inhabitants, a huge maze of streets. I don't know where I am going, but, in addition, I don't know where I am coming from.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Ard Hessly

I dreamt I was at a conference of Celtic scholars at a mysterious town a little to  the west of Galway City. It was fine weather and this afternoon's session was outdoors. Now, evening was drawing in and we were moving indoors. I said to someone, "This is where I met my wife  many years ago at a Gaeltacht Department seminar" (not actually true, for I met her in Brussels when on secondment from the Gaeltacht Department to the EEC).  I pointed to a man who looked like an older version of John Bacchus, a detective sergeant in the series "Inspector George Gently," (which I had been watching before bedtime) and said, "He was very eloquent and persuasive then," which is hardly true of the John Bacchus character, but I was indicating this unknown person who had been at the old conference.

Somebody on my left, as we moved along, said, "Will ye sing Ard Eas Laoi (pronounce: "Ard Ass Lee," meaning "High-place of the Waterfall of the River Lee) by Seathrún Céitinn (aka Geoffrey Keating)?" I never heard of the song. He recited a verse. It was in a fairly ancient version of Irish and I did not follow the words very well. Then a long-time learned acquaintance of mine,  who happened to be in front of us, turned and sang this translation, in a soft hoarse voice:
"Welcome, men, to Ard Hessly,
Whose priests, fathers Coyle and Shaw,
Will lift your faith to a frenzy,
And all for the glory of God."
I happened to be carrying somebody's guitar, and, I picked out the tune on the guitar, (although I actually don't play guitar). The guitar and singing blended nicely, and my acquaintance sang a few more verses. The song was, more or less, to the air of "Only our rivers run free," though I was not aware of that, just treating it as an air I was hearing for the first time.

It turned out that the  song was an invective against enthusiastic priests who raised a rabble army in Cromwell's time and led them, unskilled, poorly-equipped and badly-led, into battle, to be slaughtered by Cromwell's veteran army.

Now, fathers Coyle and Shaw were probably not the names of the priest of those days. Father Coyle is a former schoolmate of mine, who became a missionary and served in the Philipines. Shaw is the name of the actor who plays Inspector George Gently in the TV series, two names that were in my mind, only slightly below the level of consciousness, at the time. Irrelevant to the theme of the song, I changed them to "Fathers Kiely and Claud" in my verse-blog, to fit in better with the rhythm and rhyme, but a day later, took the names out altogether.

There is often more to a dream than meets the eye, for dreams are full of symbols and metaphors and refer to matters unconscious to the dreamer. I would guess a few meanings:
  • The mysterious town to the west of Galway, is my life before marriage, and the conference an expression of that life;
  • An unknown person who was eloquent and persuasive, refers to the enthusiasms of youth;
  • Ard Eas Laoi is a random name concocted by the subconscious to refer to a scenic place high in the mountains;
  • Seatrún Céitinn (in English, Geoffrey Keating) was an Irish priest, poet, patriot and historian, of Old English stock, who wrote a history of Ireland in the Irish language, based on tradition, modified by the Bible, and died during the Cromwellian war. He never wrote this poem, but my subconscious took his name to give it an ancient source.
  • The names produced in the dream are opportunistically drawn from my memory.
  • Bacchus and Shaw occur in the dream to remind me that recent TV material is relevant to the message; so
  • Ard Hessly is probably a metaphor for a place in recent news where, I suppose, people have been stirred up by eloquent and persuasive leaders and passionate men of the cloth to confront a deadly army with home-made weapons: the Gaza Strip, where, in recent days, protesters were fired upon by the Israeli army with multiple deaths.