Back during the Great Hunger of 1847 some Turkish ships laden with supplies docked at Drawda. The Sultan of Turkey had heard about how the people of Drawda were suffering. He’d heard of a place called Drawda that had the star and crescent as its coat of arms so was determined to reach out and build bridges with the Infidels.
It was December before the Ottomans arrived at Drawda port. Coffin ships lay docked at the quays and the Meath side of the town had succumbed to cannibalism long before the first blight had blackened the spuds.
The weary Ottomans drew their scimitars and unloaded their cargo. Hungered faces milled around and priests condemned anyone who even thought about taking charity from the wrong Goded Muslims. Women and children fainted – they had never seen a foreign face before. This was a time before the Lourdes hostipal.
But there was no food in those Ottoman chests. No grain, not even a doner kebab. Only lights. Christmas lights. The Turks hung the lights on Laurence Street, West Street and Shop Street. They were rudimentary yellow and red light bulbs fashioned into the shape of bells (no, not those ones). They were powered by a promise that the Staa Baa would celebrate the friendship of Drog and Turk. When the Staa Baa closes, said the head Turk, the lights will go off.
That’s the story of the last time Drawda got Christmas lights. They actually still worked when they were taken down but during the Celtic Tiger the Staa Baa closed. When the lights were put back up they didn’t work. The Council splashed out on some Celtic Tiger era lights but they broke.
Fast forward to 2016. A cack-handed rush job saw any old lights strung up across the town. Council workers went around the houses looking for spare light bulbs. Most people only had those new ones that don’t light up the room that well but last longer, like an eternal twilight.
The Council decided to supply a tree if the traders would light it. A Christmas tree was delivered but no lights. There is stands on Harrowing West Street, devoid of any decorations or lights or civic pride.
Dundalk spent €60,000 on a new set of lights and a Christmas tree made of illuminated barbed wire. And what’s worse is that Dundalk town centre looks well. You can tell there is some civic pride in the place even if they are a bunch of savages.
Drawda spent nada on her lights this year. Why? Small businesses are left to foot the bill and it’s not cheap and they’re sick of it. Most of the big traders send their money straight back to HQ and don’t engage in the civic life of the town. Drawda is a cash cow for them.
But what’s worse is that the town centre is liable for about €8m in rates to Louth County Council. One would imagine they’d treat us to some Christmas lights – they only cost about €150 a set and our tree only needs about 6 sets. But with our Borough Council a powerless non-entity, all we can do is hope that the Turks take pity on us again.
The Faa Side wishes all its readers a Happy New Year.