Bobbie hanvey danny 8

The Black Mountain reindeer

Danny Morrison, author of "Then The Walls Came Down."


By Danny Morrison

This an extract from “Then The Walls Came Down,” a collection of letters by the author from Crumlin Road Prison and the H-Blocks before, during and after the IRA ceasefire. It was first published in 1999 and is now, with added material, available as a Kindle book.

Out in the yard this morning we crunched through a dusting of snow upon frost. A stormy cold wind was ripping the air apart and the starlings kept trying to find roosting spots on the disused chimney stack but broke up in disarray and went crashing through the air. Anto told us a funny story as we were walking. Years ago, around Christmas, he and three mates (laborers and an electrician) all went to the old Hunting Lodge after work. One of them bet the others that he could steal a stag trophy off the wall without being caught. They placed their bets. The aspiring thief went to the bar and asked for a couple of plastic carry-out bags. In two moves he had the stag’s head off the wall and under the table, and its antlers covered over with the bags. Then he put the head under his coat and they all walked out, caught a black taxi to Twinbrook and got out opposite the Hitchin Post where the two who lost the bet went to buy a carry-out. When the two emerged from the bar there was a small crowd gathered behind their mates. Anto’s mate had removed the bags and stuck the stag’s head on a hedge, tied an electric wire around its neck like a rope and pretended to be struggling with it!

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

It was dark and most of the crowd had a fair sup of drink. The guys told the people they had caught the reindeer on Black Mountain and were bringing it home as a pet for the kids. Anto said that you could see the stag’s big artificial glassy eyes and its tongue protruding and every now and again when they pulled “the rope” the crowd moved back a few feet in case it reared up at them. Then, they pulled too hard and to gasps and astonishment from the crowd the head landed on the footpath. Then it was, “f*****’ bastards,” “That wasn’t funny,” “I knew you couldn’t get reindeers on the mountain.” He had us doubled-up.

I think society can sleep safely in its bed at night, assured that the most dangerous men in the country are all under lock and key.

Danny Morrison is next up in the hot seat for the Echo's author Q & A, Page Turner. It will be published in tomorrow's newsletter.