Many often wonder where I got the ability to irritate, annoy, bore and occasionally amuse. Well I got it from my father, the late Tim Lennon. When he died in March 1990 I wrote the following for the Parish Newsletter: My father, Tim Lennon first saw the light over Blackhill on 17th November 1898. (“A waste-not-want-not” man he would probably be pleased that the ends of the bed, in which he was born, now serve as makeshift gates at the old homestead.)In the early days of this century his first schooldays were spent in Lacken. Tim left school, aged 13, and took a job with a local farmer at £8 per year. He always believed that the farmer in question did a bit of “chronometer-adjusting” and consequently he (Tim) was starting in the mornings long before the agreed time.
After a lifetime of various jobs, from carrying twenty-stone bags of wheat up a steep ladder in Cartons, North King Street, to swinging a 56lb sledgehammer in Ballyknockan quarry, he claimed his first year of employment, with the Kylebeg farmer, was the toughest. He did, however, stay on for a second year; this time the annual remuneration was £13.
His knowledge of local history was legendry, his humour dry and his wit, at times, razor sharp. On one occasion, in 1974, when the Gardai were making house-to-house enquiries, into an Art robbery, at Russburough House, they called on Tim. A detective asked him if he had seen anyone suspicious around; only to be told; “Everyone I see is suspicious”. His family had two small holdings; one in Ballinahown, where they resided during the summer and the other was a winter retreat in Kylebeg. During the late thirties 55 residential holdings, including the Lennon’s in Ballinahown, were evacuated to make way for the Liffey Scheme. Tim was not pleased (to put it mildly). When the price offered for the land, by the ESB, was flatly refused by indignant landowners it went to Arbitration; the democracy of which Tim Lennon was not convinced.
On 03rd March 1940 at 10.00 A.M., when the sluice gate was lowered at Poulaphouca, part of Tim Lennon died. He refused to see any beauty in the Blessington Lake. To him, that which had dislocated his people and submerged Lacken Well was; “The cursed pond “. My mother’s health deteriorated in 1957 and for almost thirty years he cared for her. He was a very religious man who had what seemed to be an unshakeable faith in God. When saying his night prayers he could be heard praying for certain people, and thereby fulfilling a promise he had made at their deathbed thirty, forty or fifty years before.
In the spring of 1987 his health deteriorated and he felt he was near death. I think at that time we said anything of importance that was left for us to say to each other. Later that year after weeks of persuasion, from almost all sections of the community, he agreed to go into hospital. On an August evening he reluctantly left Kylebeg to become a long-stay patient in Baltinglass Hospital. Slowly he went downhill. The sturdy, well developed hands shrunk and moved involuntary. Tobacco consumption was down for the first time. (I calculated that he smoked about three quarters of a ton of tobacco in his lifetime).A few months ago he began praying to God to take him; often asking; “Why is He leaving me so long?” About Saint Patrick’s Day his condition got worse. His voice was barely audible and he was eating very little. On hearing that he had lost interest in smoking a neighbour suggested that his demise was imminent.
About 09.00 A.M. on Monday 26th March a nurse observed that he was weak but breathing, much the same as he had been for days. A few moments later Prayers answered. An era had come to an end. Another chapter of history was complete……Tim Lennon was dead. The nine decades had been kind to that face that I was soon to see for the last time. It now wore a look of perfect peace. He very often expressed his aversion to change, sometimes pointing out that he would not allow such and such while he was alive: “Do what yez like when yiz lave me in Baltyboys”.
The time came. The coffin was lowered. And leave him we did. At the cemetery gate a local artist commented on the area; picturesque and tranquil. A warm March sun shone on the still picture of inverted mountains that was the Blessington Lake. Would he, even in Death, with the benefit of Celestial Omniscience, relent and see its beauty. Dispersing mourners heard the soft thud of dry clay on the coffin-lid. Mother Earth would consume the mortal remains of Tim Lennon., but not the values he left behind. Values which like the Golden Thread of Truth will make those of us who are close to him feel uncomfortable when we stray too far from the path of Righteousness. Values, ever stubborn, like Tim himself, will let us know that we can’t do what we like……..even though we have left him in Baltyboys.