‘What’s happening now Ann?’ My mother is in my ear. ‘Is he out yet? It’s 10 o’clock.’
We watch the empty altar on my tablet. There’s no sign of Father Joe yet. The sun is streaming in the window. You can almost feel the stuffiness of the church from it.
There’s a comment from Nuala Costigan, ‘Watching and praying with you.’
‘Who’s she?’ says Mam. I remind her she’s a “contemporary” of mine. Of course Nuala Costigan is watching. She’s always watching. When we used to go to mass, she seemed to know instinctively when we arrived into the church and would turn around just in time to see one of my children acting the maggot.
There are twenty-two of us watching the mass according to the Facebook. That’s actually not a bad turnout compared to what’d usually be there.
Father Donnegan comes out and switches on some music on his phone. He starts speaking
‘We can’t hear you’, writes Sherry Guttenberg. She’s not local. She must be a tourist. It’s awful frustrating as I’ve no one to nudge to ask who she is. I could ask her I suppose. I click on her Facebook page when Mam isn’t looking. We have one mutual friend. Joe Dolan Fan Club. She’s in Bridgeport Connecticut.
Father Donnegan must have noticed that Sherry Gutenberg is commenting because he goes up to the camera and for a moment we can see that he has gone a bit unkempt looking. The housekeeper has had to keep away from him.
‘Sorry about that’, he says and we can hear him again. He ‘likes’ Sherry’s comment and then gives the opening blessing. Can you imagine a mass like it? But I suppose we were all sorts of distracted before but that was inside our heads and not on the phone.
This mass is offered for the repose of the soul of Charles ‘Charlie’ Hoare.
‘That’s himself now’, says Mam. She seems satisfied that Daddy got his mention. And even more satisfied she didn’t have to pay for the mass. Mam is very practical about things.
‘Let them know you were watching Ann so we’re not ungrateful.’
‘Thnaks for remebering Dady’ I type making a hames of it.
Sherry Gutenberg likes this. In fact, she loves this.
‘WHO’S SHE?’ demands my mother. ‘I’ll wring his neck.’
‘Mam, I think she’s only being friendly.’
Mam calms down. She’s never done so much talking during mass before. I feel sorry for Father Donnegan. I mean he wasn’t exactly Elvis but you can tell he needs some sort of an audience
He does the consecration. Mam is nearly out of her chair to go up for Communion before we remember.
‘Awful strange, this whole thing Ann.’
Father Donnegan finishes up and goes up to the phone to put on a hymn but he must have pressed the wrong button because ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ blares out instead.
‘They’ll have to stay inside for a while yet’, says Mam.
Colm O’Regan is a columnist, broadcaster, comedian and author. He has published four books of non-fiction – the three bestselling books of Irish Mammies and Bolloxology – and published his first novel, Ann Devine: Ready for Her Close-Up in 2019. Ann Devine: Handle with Care is in second novel. Originally from Cork, he now lives in Dublin with his wife Marie and daughters Ruby and Lily.