+ R.I.P. Paddy Fitzgibbon+
The March of Time
A few years ago Paddy Fitzgibbon sent us this picture of his bookshelf with the above caption. I think it is a fitting memorial to open my tribute with.
Paddy was an extraordinary man. I have never in my lifetime met a man of such intellect, such wit and such diverse talents.
He was a scholar, a reader, a writer, a photographer, an artist, a garden designer, a linguist and of course a lawyer. He was also a husband, a father and a friend. He will be missed by many.
I didn’t know Paddy in his professional capacity as the Fitzgibbon in Pierse and Fitzgibbon. This example of the beautiful artwork that was his signature style is on display in his former workplace.
This witty photograph is typical of the man who rarely saw the world as dull and ordinary as you or I see it.
Paddy snapped this full nest a few years ago and in his usual insightful way captioned it “The Supreme Court”.
Isn’t this the best ever photograph of Charlie Nolan? Paddy caught Charlie, a keen photographer, in a setting so dear to his heart, beside his beloved River Feale where he enjoyed so many happy hours.
Closer to home, he called this one “Florist in Dromin”
I will never forget his exhibition of photographs in St. John’s a few years back. Every image raised a smile. The pictures were of weird and wonderful signs and names that he spotted on his travels. The pictures had little commercial value but that was Paddy’s way. He framed them and exhibited them to entertain us. It was just one of his many contributions to our enjoyment of the town he loved so well.
Paddy is on the far right of Junior Griffin’s photograph with Mervyn Taylor T.D. and other Jewish dignitaries at the Holocaust Memorial at the official opening of The Garden of Europe in 1995.
The Garden of Europe today is a beautiful legacy this marvellous man conceived and, with the help of his friends in The Rotary Club and his hard working and supportive wife, brought into being.
Now to Paddy Fitzgibbon, the playwright, poet and writer.
I have a confession to make. Much of Paddy’s writing was way too scholarly for me. When I think of him I think of the lines from Goldsmith’s Village Schoolmaster
“And still they gazed and still the wonder grew
That one small head could carry all he knew.”
I’m going to repeat here in full an old Listowel Connection post from a few years back….
You would never know what you might encounter on Listowel Connection. This next must be the most unusual item I’ve yet posted. It is a Listowel sequel to a Victorian translation of a poem by an 11th century Persian poet.
This is how Paddy Fitzgibbon introduced his poem to us;
“Attached is a sequel to Edward Fitzgerald’s 1859 translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Kayam. It is written by the entirely fictitious North Kerry poet Tomaisin Og McDoodle, a son of the equally fictitious North Kerry statesman Tom Doodle.”
(First of all let me fill you in on the original. In case you were wondering, no, I didnt know this stuff. I looked it up.
Omar Kayam was a Persian poet and astronomer who lived from 1048 to 1131. During his lifetime he was most famous as a scientist and mathematician. His poetry might never have gained its worldwide acclaim were it not for the English translation by Edward Fitzgerald in 1859.
Apparently the translation was not over faithful to the original.
A rubaiyat is a poem of four lined stanzas. Fitzgerald translated hundreds of them. These translations are widely available and very popular.
The theme of the Rubaiyat of Omar Kayam is Carpe Diem. It chimes well with mindfulness and other philosophies that are currently having a moment.
Here is an example
Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise To talk;
one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.
Now to our modern day Kerry Rubaiyat. Like the original, it is very long so I’m only giving you a taste. M.C.)
One evening, when the Sun began to sink,
Greatrakes FitzGodward calmly deigned to think,
Then gulped his wine, to celebrate and wake,
His sixty- ninth sincere farewell to drink.
The evening of his own wild days grew late,
The storm curls of his brain grew limp and straight;
So, should he hurl invectives at the gods,
Or kneel, and pray, and tintinnabulate ?
FitzGodward filled another glass; bombast
And blighted folly then combined to cast
One marching, flashing, laughing glance, that left
The cavalries of misery aghast.
The solstices of good and evil came
And went; no one can bridge with praise or blame,
The endless chasm between Is and Ought,
The raftless river between Pride and Shame.
He took to sportsmanship in Cork and Clare,
( His winters shortened by a well – turned hare );
He once fell off a horse, near here or there,
And licked the lattice work of life, but where?
( Our reformed hero took Holy Orders and soon rose through the ranks to become pope)
Then at theology he made a start,
And tore both schisms and heresies apart;
He thrived, and soon became an expert in
Aortic aspects of the Sacred Heart.
( His conversion was short-lived, He returned to his old ways)
Old Earth still calmly went around the Sun,
And soon Greatrakes returned to sin and fun,
He drained a barrel then, to eulogise
The obsequies of piety undone.
(When we all come to the end this is how Tomaisín sees it.)
“Come now old friend Khayyám, and while we can
We will proclaim some sort of well laid plan,
Conceived in wine by Zeus or Proust or Faust,
Or someone’s cousin’s father’s Uncle Dan.
When, towards our one last hideous latch we’re drawn,
We’ll greet its rusty hinges with a yawn,
Then whistle a rattling randy tune beside
A wren wrung river, or a lark bossed lawn.
Go ndéana Dia Uilechumhachtach trocaire ar anam uasal dílis ár gcara Paddy Fitzgibbon. Braithfimid uainn é. Cinnte ní bheidh a leithéad arís ann.