Nostradamus, Malachi and Me
By Mattie Lennon
“He’ll romp home”. “She’ll head the pole”. “It’s not going to snow”. “He
won’t see morning”. All forecasts with not a great track-record of
accuracy. I’m inclined to agree with Bacon “…..predictions ought to
serve but for winter talk by the fireside”. I’ve encountered prophecies of
doom from various quarters. Nostradamus left us some cryptic clues about
the END, as did Malachi, nearer home. Heath Watson, a religious leader,
says the good among us have nothing to worry about as “We’ll glide
straight up to Heaven”.
My late father found out somewhere that we were promised two thousand
years with “a tilly in” not to mention a Dunraven farmer I met last
August. I gave him a lift to a match in Dublin, and apart from his
endeavours to dispel my naïveté of the wiles of the female, he frightened
the life out of me with some lesser-known Biblical revelations which he
claimed would have particular relevance in the year 2000. (I nearly picked
up a couple of on-the-spot fines in my haste to deposit him in the
Metropolis- or somewhere – as quickly as possible).
And now I see where well-heeled film actor, Jean Claude Van Dame, has
learned that the end of the world is at hand, through a nuclear
holocaust…..but only for Europe and America. So he has bought thousands
of acres of land in Australia. There he is going to keep a male and a
female of every species he can find. He is rounding up animals two-by-two.
But why didn’t he pick Asia or Africa? I mean, would you put, say, your
sheep in Australia, knowing the pedigree of the inhabitants? Also I’m
wondering is Mr. Van Dame a plagiarist. He describes his purchase as “a
serene wilderness area where endangered and threatened species can
continue to live and evolve”. That statement sounds very like a certain No
65 bus driver’s description of Donard!!!!.
I’d be the first to admit that futurists have been frighteningly accurate
at times, down the centuries. I wouldn’t be one to nit-pick and labour on
the fact the nobody predicted the nose-ring, autofare, that politicians
would be caught taking back-handers or that Clinton would shake hands with
Since some predictions have been about as accurate as D’Unbelievables’
weather forecast, what about historical accuracy if, as Friedrich Von
Schlegel claimed, “a historian is a prophet in reverse”?
Yet, the future has been foretold with amazing exactitude, since the
beginning of time. Who could argue with T.S. Eliot’s assertion that “time
present and time past are both perhaps present in time future and time
future contained in time past”.
Nostradamus had many accurate predictions under his belt, including the
manner of the death of Henry II of France. And even the most severe and
skeptical critics of Jean Dixon credit her with some precision. However,
despite the informed anticipation and pessimistic augury of the
aforementioned et al, my trepidation is tempered by a stubborn if cagey
skepticism. It dates back to my first long-trousers.
Let me explain. When, I was growing up it was normal for boys to wear
short-trousers up to the age of fourteen. In 1959, my aunt in Coleraine
who had a son a couple of years my senior sent me my first hand-me-down
long trousers, which had to be consigned to mothballs until my 14th
birthday. Since I had ultra-conservative parents, the tradition was
honoured to the full. I had to serve the full sentence, with no remission
for good behaviour. By the time I was thirteen and a half, I began to see
something incongruous about my bear knees and certain “manly” pastimes.
Now, in the late fifties an article appeared in a Catholic newspaper – was
it the Standard or The Irish Catholic? – informing the Faithful of the
imminent termination of the planet.
We didn’t manage to get our hands on the paper at home, but several
well-meaning neighbours, enlightened relatives and acquaintances met a
fairs and Devotions, relayed the good tidings, piece-meal, to us; THERE
WOULD BE THREE DARK DAYS IN 1960. Black pigs would walk the earth. The
smell of brimstone would be stifling.
And no family would be together when this calamity would occur. (I
interpreted this latter as meaning that in the case of each family, unit,
the father would be at the turf Rick, the mother would be in the cowhouse
and each of the offspring would be out playing a solitary game in a
different part of the inch).
1960 came and went. I attained the age of fourteen (and I haven’t used
camphor balls since). I got my first bike. There were no dark days, in
Kylebeg anyway. (Well not in the sense that we were deprived of diurnal
There was no smell worse than cowdung and rotten spuds evident, and there
hasn’t been a dark member of the bacon-providing species seen in the area
since the days of the Yorkshire pigs. So, seers past and present, I’ve
heard what you have to say about flooding and disaster. I’m less spiritual
but just as doubting as Thomas.
So if you were to predict that;
Daniel O ‘Donnell was getting married,
Shane McGowan would visit the dentist,
Jackie-Healy Rae would be next Taoiseach or
Wicklow would win the 2001 all Ireland Final
I would treat it with a healthy scepticism. Wouldn’t you, if you had spent the
initial years of your teens worrying that you were going to die in