Darragh Dunne's Irish Farewell

Submitted into Contest #128 in response to: Set your story in a tea house.... view prompt

15 comments

Contemporary Fiction Funny

Darragh Dunne had an impish Irish smile and mirthful Irish eyes. He had a fine Irish temper, too, but you couldn't see that on the wallet-sized memorial cards they handed out at the funeral. Alive or dead, the fact remained that nearly every memorable characteristic Darragh possessed – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – was attributed to his Irishness, and this despite the fact he was three generations removed from the Emerald Isle. In truth of fact, he was from Long Island and decidedly more molded by that heritage than his great-grandfather's. The only Irish that really remained was the name, but that didn't stop the Dunnes from sending him off with a shamrock pinned to his chest.

When Darragh's oldest son Darry Jr. eulogized him it went like this:

“Darragh – Dad – was a bullheaded, Irish son-of-a-bitch and don't you cross him. One time he had had about enough of the construction that had been ruining his commute for over a month, so he stopped his car in the middle of the road – everyone else be damned – and demanded to speak to the foreman. He wanted to know what the hell could be taking so long, and the foreman told him it was because they were running a new gas line through town. Well Dad couldn't accept that it should have taken a whole month to do that one little thing, and needed to know when the road would be finished. The foreman told him they'd be finished in a week's time, and Dad said he'd hold him to it.

“A week later, Dad was driving to work and about boiled over when he saw the construction still very much underway, and worse still, that he'd be detoured to avoid an open trench. He threw his car into park in the middle of the street and flipped off all the honking cars behind him. Then he found that foreman and said, like only dad could, 'Time's up'. If the poor guy didn't recognize Dad then, he did when Dad asked if he was stupid or just lousy at his job. The week was up, and Dad would be driving his normal route come hell or high water.

“What happened next was what always happened when dad got set in his stubborn Irish ways. He got what he wanted. It took them an hour and Dad was a hell of a lot later for work than if he'd just taken the detour, but the construction workers hauled some steel plates over that trench and Dad drove on through. That's just what he was like. He didn't like shirkers and he didn't like liars, and if someone said something, they should follow through. And if they didn't, well, Dad would make them.”

When Darragh's middle son Liam eulogized him it went like this:

“Some of my favorite times with Dad were skiing up at Bromley. Even when we were little, he was always pushing us to try the hardest trails. Even when we knew we weren't ready. Even when he knew we weren't ready. 'Nobody ever did anything worthwhile pussyfooting around', he'd always say. And we believed him. Because if we didn't, well, he'd make us believers.

“So between always trying to keep up with Darry and always trying to keep off Dad's shit list, that's how we ended up on The Plunge that day. And at first it was okay. It was a perfect, bluebird spring day. We were all in t-shirts and the snow was heavy and thick. But then the trees started coming faster and faster and my skis just wouldn't listen. Darry and Dad were already halfway down the run when I wrapped myself around the tree, and boy was dad pissed to have to hike all the way back up.

“When he finally got up to me, that Irish temper was in high gear. He told me to stop crying like a baby and wipe the snot off my face. And I did. When I told him I didn't think I could ski the rest of the way down, he told me to walk. And I did. By the time we got to the lodge I was shaking and white as my shirt. When they found out I'd broken my leg, Mom was furious with Dad for making me walk the whole way down. But Dad was unapologetic. He was raising men, and that was my coming of age.”

Darragh's youngest son Callum declined to eulogize him, but was made to recite in Latin. Darragh insisted that any good, Irish Catholic service required Latin. And so it was.

After the burial, family and close friends were invited to fete him at the patio of Darragh's favorite tea house. “If the English invented teatime, the Irish perfected it,” Darragh always said. The cucumber sandwiches (no crusts) and Victoria sponge were served on Belleek china and the pergola was dressed in wild Irish roses punctuated with velvety moss and drooping clusters of shamrocks. Irish tea was served with milk and sugar and fiddles and mandolins clamored through the thick Florida air. Truly, it was an affair even Darragh couldn't find fault with, remarked his widow, Prudence.

The last of the tea drunk, the mourners had begun to noisily push back chairs and embrace when a bald eagle glided gracefully into the low limbs of a nearby pine tree.

“My God!” Prudence exclaimed, “It's Dad! And he's even an eagle, just like the family coat of arms!”

Exultant cries and stifled sobs tore through the crowd like a contagion. Prayers were said and hands fluttered to forehead, chest, left shoulder, right shoulder in the sign of the cross. Darry clapped Liam and Callum on the back and drew them into a hug.

As the cameras came out to record the visitation, the eagle swooped down onto a heedless chipmunk, pierced its organs with overlong talons, and carried it back to its perch. As it unstrung the chipmunk's intestines like a length of streamer, pecking at the choicest bits, there could be no mistake. It was Darragh Dunne alright, that Irish son-of-a-bitch.

January 11, 2022 13:28

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15 comments

Gip Roberts
20:53 Jan 24, 2022

Very funny, touching (well, touching except for the part about the chipmunk intestines), and creative! I've been to my share of funerals now, and most of them have been almost exactly like the one in the story. My favorite part was Darry Jr.'s eulogy; I can relate to his father's frustration over the road construction, and I could picture a scene like this actually happening somewhere in the world, hilarious as you made it.

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Hannah Barrett
21:55 Jan 24, 2022

Thanks so much for reading, Gip! I'm glad you enjoyed it. In the words of one of my favorite characters, Hendrik Groen, "There's not one sentence that's a lie, but not every word is true."

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Mark Nero
01:33 Jan 21, 2022

Great story with a lot of chapter.

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Charlie Murphy
18:35 Jan 17, 2022

Darrah kind of reminds me of my middle school and high school facilitator, except meaner! Loved the symbolism at the end!

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Hannah Barrett
01:20 Jan 18, 2022

Thanks so much for your comment, Charlie! Would you absolutely shudder to learn this is based VERY closely on my grandfather and the actual events surrounding his funeral?!

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Charlie Murphy
01:44 Jan 18, 2022

Including the eagle?

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Hannah Barrett
01:58 Jan 18, 2022

YES!

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Charlie Murphy
02:44 Jan 18, 2022

Wow! That's crazy! What did you think of my story>? Please comment where my story is instead of here

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Silva Fox
17:52 Jan 16, 2022

Wow! I love it! Can't use enough exclamation points!

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Hannah Barrett
18:11 Jan 16, 2022

Well thanks, Silva! Glad you enjoyed it.

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Thom With An H
17:10 Mar 27, 2022

Hannah, I just listened to the podcast and I had no choice but to come and read you. You are destined for great things. I’m not a technical writer, in fact most of the time I don’t know what the hell I'm doing but I recognize greatness when I see it. I can’t wait to tell people I’ve been reading you forever when you are a guest on Fallon. Great job.

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Hannah Barrett
17:03 Mar 28, 2022

Wow, Lee! Thank you so much for your exceptionally generous assessment of my talent. I love Jimmy, so I will not fight the future you've painted for me.

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Patrick Borosky
14:09 Jan 20, 2022

Loved it. This really reached out to me on a personal level. Loved the imagery as it was like an old glove to me. Even though I lived in Kentucky most of my life, my dad's side of the family are all Irish Catholics who live in Long Island.

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Hannah Barrett
14:20 Jan 20, 2022

So glad this struck a chord with you Patrick. Now the real question (the only question really) is are they Mets or Yankees fans?

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Patrick Borosky
14:29 Jan 20, 2022

It is split by generation actually. The older generation are Yankees fans and the younger are Mets fans. Strange fact...Kentucky has a crazy amount of Yankees fans. The only thing we have to cheer for down here is Kentucky basketball, and until the 2012 National Championship for UK, every year Kentucky basketball won, the Yankees won a World Series.

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