Resident BTL Weshtie Droptheclaw gives us the first of a three-part insight into his own patented brand of masochism
There’s an expression in Irish that goes: An bhfuil béal bocht agatsa? Literally, Have you got the poor mouth on you?
It’s a saying that is still commonly used in Ireland and particularly in Irish-speaking areas. It refers to someone who, as a means of getting extra sympathy (and possibly currying favour as a result), colourfully describes the direness of their situation.
The Béal Bocht has traditionally been the bread and butter of the average Connacht Rugby fan.
And this is not entirely without merit. Perched precipitously on the western fringe of Europe, An Chúige Connachta (literally the fifth, or province, of Connacht) provides in abundance all the classic ingredients for the downtrodden story, starting with a history of glorious failure on the battlefield.
From the circa 1st Century A.D. Táin Bó Cúailnge – Cattle Raid of Cooley – where Ulster’s Cú Chulainn put hundreds of Connacht warriors to the sword –
– to The Battle of Aughrim, where a cannonball to the head of French General Charles Chalmont turned the tide of the day and Irish Jacobite forces were routed from the field by Godert de Ginkell’s men.
The population of Connacht is smaller, much smaller than the other provinces – from a high of nearly 1.5 million in 1841, the former kingdom’s population dropped to a low of just under 400,000 in 1971, famine and waves of emigration taking a vast toll on the people.
And to cap off this cheery picture, it rains in Connacht. From Rosses Point to Kinvara and Westport to Carrigallen, the sepulchral clouds feel never more than twenty feet above the head, delivering the bad news in water, and by the bucket: 175 days a year you can expect to get soaked.
So what does anyone in their right mind – in a land steeped in historic defeat, with – forget zero! – a minus population growth, where the regional costume is a mac and Wellies – what do they do?
For their sins, they scorn history, the scant personnel resources and the water up to their waists, and take out Connacht Rugby membership.
More of which next time.
Manuscript received from Droptheclaw, wrung out, and dried in front of a heater