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Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: Dude, you’re not allowed to just, like, shoot seagulls

We’re in the old man’s boat in the middle of Dublin Bay, with Hennessy and a sawn-off shotgun

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Ross O'Carroll-Kelly: Charles. Illustration: Alan Clarke.

So – yeah, no – we’re out in the old man’s boat in the middle of Dublin literally Bay, we’re talking me, the old man and Hennessy, and like the old man says, it’s just like old times. We used to do this every second weekend back in the day. We’d all pile on to Celtic Mist – which apparently once belonged to Chorlie Haughey – with a bottle of XO, a fistful of cigors and the old man’s racing binoculars, then we’d make bets on how many cranes we could count on the skyline.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,” the old man goes, “the Celtic Tiger was a wonderful, wonderful thing in our lives!”

I’m there, “Okay, I’m going to say 40.”

Except the old man shakes his head at me, then out of the corner of his mouth goes, “We’re not doing that today, Kicker!”


I’m there, “Er, so what are we actually doing?”

“Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time!” he goes, sucking the last bit of life out of a Romeo y Julieta. “Something that’s going to make the world a happier place!” and then he sort of, like, winks at me to say that all will be revealed.

It’s at that exact moment that my phone suddenly rings? It ends up being Ronan.

I’m there, “Ro, how the hell are you?”

He goes, “Ine hungover to fook,” because he’s been on the lash since his famous Dubs won the big, I don’t know, thing last weekend. “What’s the stordee with your auld fedda, Rosser?”

I’m there, “I was just wondering the exact same thing. He’s acting weird. Weirder than usual even?”

I’m like, ‘But what in the name of Johnny Sexton does my old man want with a sawn-off shotgun?’

And that’s when he says it. He goes, “He rag me up the utter day, Rosser, and he asked me could I get him a gudden.”

I’m there, “A what?”

“A gudden.”


“A gudden.”

“One more time.”

“A gudden.”

“Oh my God,” I go, “are you trying to say the word gun?”

He’s like, “I am saying the word gudden, you fooken flute.”

I’m there, “What the fock would he need a gun for?”

Ro’s like, “I’ve no idea.”

“And why’s he asking you? What, just because you’re from the other side of the city, he thinks you automatically know how to get your hands on a gun? That’s highly insulting. So did you get him one?”

“I ditn’t, Rosser, no.”

“Thank fock for that.”

“But Buckets of Blood did.”


“A sawn-off. He’s just arthur tedding me here. Two grand, your auld fedda paid for it. Overcharged him, if you ask me.”

I’m like, “But what in the name of Johnny Sexton does my old man want with a sawn-off shotgun?”

He goes, “No idea, Rosser. Here, where are you, by the way? The signal’s teddible, so it is.”

I’m there, “We’re on the boat – in, I don’t know, whatever sea that’s called off Ireland. Me, the old man and Hennessy.”

“The boat?” he goes and he sounds seriously worried all of a sudden. “Rosser, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

I’m there, “Er, I would say on past experience, no.”

“Do you think he’s godda kiddle Heddessy?”

“Kill Hennessy? Dude, what are you talking about?”

He goes, “Think about it, Rosser. Heddessy knows all your auld fedda’s doorty secrets. It he was godda kiddle him, the middle of the sea is the best place to do it. No witnesses – do you get me?”

I’m like, “You and your imagination, Ro.”

He goes, “You’re there to help him thrun the body overboard. Here, make shurden weight it down properly, Rosser. Utterwise, it’ll come back up as soon as it steerts releasing gases.”

“Seriously,” I go, “you’d want to stop listening to that Nicola Tallant podcas–”

But I suddenly stop because I see something that chills me to my literally bones? Hennessy is standing at whatever that front bit of the boat is called. The old man reaches inside his camel-hair coat, pulls out – yeah, no – the famous sawn-off and storts creeping up behind his friend and solicitor of nearly 50 years.

I’m like, “Dude, I have to go,” and I hang up on my son.

Hennessy is puffing away on his cigor, no idea that he’s about to be fish food. The old man raises the gun. And that’s when I shout, “Don’t do it!”

It comes out a lot more high-pitched than I imagined it in my head.

Hennessy spins around and sees the old man standing behind him with the sawn-off pointing at him.

Hennessy’s there, ‘Here, give me a go!’ but that’s when we hear the sound of – yeah, no – a siren? I didn’t know the Gords even had a boat

“I have to do it!” the old man goes. “Someone has to make a stand!”

I’m there, “At least think about it first.”

“I’ve thought about it enough,” the old man goes. “They’re bloody vermin, Ross.”

I’m there, “I’d be the last one to defend them. But we need them, Dude.”

He goes, “We don’t need them! They prey on the vulnerable! It would be a far better world if they were all wiped out!”

I’m there, “Solicitors?”

And that’s when he laughs.

“I’m talking about seagulls!” he goes, lowering the gun. “That’s why your godfather and I invited you out here today! We’re heading for Booterstown! It’s one of their nesting places! I’m pretty certain that the one who attacked me outside the Shelbourne Hotel is amongst their number!”

I’m there, “Dude, you’re not allowed to just, like, shoot seagulls.”

Hennessy’s like, “What are you, a legal expert now?”

I’m there, “No.”

“Then keep your opinions to yourself,” he goes.

I’m like, “Dude, have you even fired a gun before?”

The old man’s there, “No, but how hord could it be, Ross?” and then he makes his way to the – again – front bit of the boat and lifts the gun again. I can see the seagulls – we’re talking hundreds of them – in the far away distance.

At the top of his voice, the old man goes, “You’ve had this coming, you bastards!”

He pulls the trigger and – BOOM! – the gun goes off. He manages to completely miss the birds and the – I want to say – recoil sends him staggering backwards across the deck of the boat and he ends up in a heap on the ground.

Hennessy’s there, “Here, give me a go!” but that’s when we hear the sound of – yeah, no – a siren? I didn’t know the Gords even had a boat.

The old man kicks the sawn-off shotgun across the deck of the boat to me. “Quick!” he goes. “Throw that bloody thing overboard!”

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly was captain of the Castlerock College team that won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 1999. It’s rare that a day goes by when he doesn’t mention it