Roger Harty: The Fool Might Be Right

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IN towns and villages all over the world there is often some unfortunate individual whether we like it or not, who is regarded as the local fool or idiot.

They are often an outlet for much derision and fun by some and perhaps an outlet for love and kindness by others. Nevertheless every town and village has one (or more).

As we know the daily trappings of life are very often depicted in film and to this end two such films come to my mind.

One such film is ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ which was filmed in the early ‘70s in West Kerry. In the film, Michael, wonderfully characterised by John Mills, was the village idiot. The real question here is – who was the first to become aware of what was really going on in the village?

Answer, Michael!  The ‘local fool’ knew that the wife of the local schoolmaster was having an affair with a British Army Officer.

While everyone else was caught up in the humdrum of their daily lives, the ‘fool’ knew exactly what was really happening.

Another great example of this is the film ‘The Field’ from the adaptation of the play of the same name by our very own quintessential Kerryman, John B Keane.

Again the character of the village idiot,  ‘The Bird’ is played by the one and only John Hurt.

In the film, Tadgh the son of the main character ‘The Bull McCabe’ is having an affair with a local tinker girl, oblivious to everyone. Also the first scene depicted a donkey drowning.

Who was the first to know what was really happening in both cases?

Answer ‘The Bird’, the local village fool!

I suppose the essence of this article is a message to be careful of who and what we judge, as often the source of real wisdom can come from the most unsuspected and least assuming  people.

How much can we learn from people with disabilities, both physical and intellectual?

I’m sure the first person to suggest that the world was round and not flat was subjected to great mockery, but he was correct.

Is this not the essence of the fairy-tale ‘the Emperor has no clothes’ where the child spoke up and called it as it is.

It was often said before that children ‘should be seen and not heard’, but now we are coming to realise that more and more, real wisdom is coming from our children, especially in world matters like pollution of our planet and needless sectarian and racial violence.

We have much to learn from them!

‘Blessed are the children for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’

• Next week I am going to write about  — Be Careful What You Think!

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