Clickety click bait!!!! Yup, I’ve fallen foul of click bait journalism. Even someone of high ethical morals and modesty, such as myself, can succumb to gutter journalism techniques. Although it’s hardly gutter journalism these days as even the respected broadsheets do it!. But wait, there is a story here: A story of honour, bravery, courage, migration and jiving at the kreuzung.
Many years ago before paypal and cookies were invented the much put upon Irish were trying to cast off the English yoke of oppression with not much luck. They’d been valiantly trying for 800 hundred years or so and were getting a tad disheartened, as one does when one starts to believe Quentin Crisp’s mantra of ‘if at first you don’t succeed then failure is your style’.
T’was around 1914 when a yacht called the Asgard was used to smuggle 900 antique rifles, old army surplus from the Franco-Prussian war of 1871, into Dublin from a secret rendezvous off the Belgian coast. The guns were eventually used in the less than successful but still bloody Easter Rising of 1916. At about the same time a certain Michael Keogh from Ireland, was attempting to round up a band of Irish POW brothers willing to don the German uniform and fight against zee Eeeenglish. Keogh had been captured by the dastardly Krauts while fighting in France for the sneaky Poms in 1914.
As it happened Keogh was a natural at army stuff and eventually found himself a bona fide member of the German Army, married to a local lass and fluent in the local lingo. It was in 1919 that he heard an almighty kerfuffle going on one night and to cut a long story short broke up a rather nasty fight among some soldiers. A young Adolf had been spouting fancy words and incendiary rhetoric to a bunch of soldiers in a gym. Keogh stepped in and rescued Hitler from copping a good skewing from a several bayonets. With this one interception WW2 was saved from not happening and kept on schedule.You can read all about it here.
There must have been something about Keogh that Adolf took a fancy to, or perhaps he stopped to play him a wee jig and a reel on his tin whistle, because he became a fan of Irish traditional music. Personally, that’s an affliction I’m happy to cure with some good old rock and roll or even some blues. Goddammit, I’ll even take prog-rock over trad any day of the week.
Anyway, back to the story at hand. So, there we are in Berlin, circa 1936, and old Hitler is well and truly getting into the swing of things and sends out an invite to Sean Dempsey to come and play for him and the boys. Sean was a player of the uilleann pipes, think of bagpipes that work via an arm powered pump. So, off Sean goes to Berlin to play for the Fuhrer but no, there’s not a spare seat in the house. Something about Hitler’s henchmen being avid music fans and not wanting to appear negligent in their duties had the house packed. Well, old Hitler didn’t appreciate this and ordered a nearby SS goon to get down on all fours and provide something for Sean to plonk his derriere on(this is true, I shit you not!). Apparently Goebbels was there too as he was also a fan of fiddle dee dee potatoes music.
After pumping his uilleann pipes and knocking out a rare old tune of haunting beauty Mr Dempsey finished up and took his bows only to be nearly knocked senseless by an over appreciative Adolf and somewhat zealous Goebbels as they clapped and whooped wildly. I dare say the Guinness and pure drops were flowing freely that night and not to make light of it, I can imagine der fuhrer trying to plan the invasion of Poland the next day with a shocking hangover. You can read the full-ish story here.
Now, if a certain Otto Skorzeny had been around to protect Hitler from the demon drink things might have turned out differently for Poland. Otto was a big strapping potato of a man weighing in at 18 stone/114kg(that’s a shit load of spuds) and standing 6′ 2″ tall. He was to become one of Adolf’s best commandos and was responsible for saving Mussolini and with exporting all them nasty Nazis off down to Brazil and Argentina when the game was up. He also served as Eva Peron’s bodyguard in between raiding the local vineyards and asado restaurants.
After Otto had done his fair share of thuggery in the name of the much maligned swastika he decided to retire to Ireland in the late fifties. I mean, why not? Who’d go looking for him there? Ireland really only started to exist on an international level when we started winning the Eurovision song contest ad nauseum. So there’s Otto living on The Curragh in county Kildare, just a stones throw away from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan Dublin. I can see him now ploughing the land one handed and planting spuds with t’other. Then he’d go and milk the moo cows before retiring with a big bowl of Irish stew and a few flagons of porter while the lambs bleated and the grass grew green.
The truth is that he wasn’t the only old Nazi to drop anchor in the Emerald Isle. If legend be true it wasn’t uncommon in those post WW2 days to see legions of senior army officers drop down to earth with their silken parachutes and pockets weighed down with gold bullion. I might even have met a Wolfgang type down Wicklow way meself sometime ago. You can read about this interesting Otto over here.