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The Narnia of Ballykissangel

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“Have a nice cold pint and wait for all of this to blow over.”

Well, that was easy for Assumpta to say but quite frankly, she didn’t have to face the onslaught of one Father MacAnally. Oh yes, that was a special joy reserved only for Father Peter Clifford.

As the clergyman let a silent “thank you” pass his lips to the publican, Padraig perked up from the other end of the bar, starting off strong but beginning to flounder as he tried to validate his point.

“Father, sure isn’t this kind of thing supposed to make you lot… Oh crap… What’s the word..? Ecu…”

Siobhan quickly came to his aid, apparently on the same wavelength as the mechanic. “Ecumenical.”

“That’s it!”

“Oh I can just imagine you and Father Mac holding hands round the campfire singing ‘Kumbaya’ together.”

Pulling a face at Assumpta’s amusing remark (not that he was going to admit it), he took a sip of his glass of Harp before speaking.

“Well… We’re technically supposed to be welcoming to all religions. However, this is Father Mac that we’re talking about, so maybe having a travelling theatre company performing Fiddler on the Roof in the hall is his ‘don’t run before you can walk’ moment.”

Peter secretly admired who had the courage to hide a decision like that from his superior for as long as they did. Plus, it really wouldn’t make sense for the troop to just skip Ballykissangel after having sell-out performances in the areas surrounding the village. If only Father Mac could open his mind just a little more?

“Even if it’s about Jewish traditions, Fiddler does have parallels with a lot of Irish culture, when you think about it. Old-school matchmaking, intense poverty, mass migration like the Famine… Maybe if you put it to him that way, he might see sense?”

“Thanks Brendan, I might just do that.” Taking a gulp of lager, he glanced up to meet the gaze of a smug Assumpta, clearly resisting the urge to burst out laughing at his misfortune.

Typical.

“I meant what I said.” She gestured to his glass. “Take as long as you need to taste-test my new barrel.”

Peter ignored the trio in the corner, their humourous expressions painted as if they had been just compared to chopped liver. Instead, he could feel himself genuinely grinning for the first time that day at the sly wink that Assumpta seemed to reserve just for him.

As he enjoyed his drink, surrounded by the banter-filled exchanges between punters and publican, he wished, for the first time since he had read the works of C.S. Lewis as a child, that he could stay in Fitzgerald’s, the Narnia of Ballykissangel some might say, for as long as possible.

Assumpta flashed a mischievous smile to the priest as she passed him to tend to the fire.

Yeah, he wouldn’t mind that at all…