Artie is the sacristan of the local church in Wexford. Once, he had a passionate affair with a married woman who he connected with on every level. This speech is given long after it’s all over, when all he has left is the memory of love.
(to the audience). I know what they think of me. I know well enough what they say about me behind my back. There he goes, Artie O’Leary the poor little sacristan with the candle grease on his sleeve, smellin’ of incense as he opens the big heavy belfry door. They watch me standin’ quietly in the shadows of the mortuary when they come to bury their dead and they see me goin’ home to my little empty house in the rain every night to listen to the news. Lonely auld days and nights they’re thinkin’. Dreary auld mornings too. Snuffin’ out candles and emptyin’ poor boxes. Of course they’ve all probably forgotten by now that I once loved a woman. Another man’s wife. She came into this queer auld whisperin’ world of mine to change the flowers in the chapel and to look after the altar and although she’s been gone out of here over a year now I swear to God her fragrance still lingers about the place – in the transept, near the shrine. Around the vestry and above in the belfry – her scent…where ever I go…It’s thanks to her that I have a past worth talkin’ about at all I suppose. Although I often curse her for it. There are days now when I find myself draggin’ her memory behind me everywhere I go. I bless her too though. She tapped a hidden reservoir inside of me that I didn’t even know was there. Because of her, I now find myself ramblin’ into snooker halls and back room card games where, surrounded by archin’ eyebrows, I become my father’s son again and argue the toss with anyone who cares to step on my corns. And I must confess that I get a certain manly satisfaction from the fact that I can hold my own with the so-called big drinkers and small time gamblers of the town. Oh yes, a hidden resevoir she tapped…but before we all get carried away here, I think I’d better point out to yeh that I’m more a man in mournin’ than a hawk in the night. Because yeh see, I know now for sure that she will not be comin’ back to me. And so I mourn. And I pine. And everytime I come up here the sound of this lonely bell tells me that I’m going to live a long, long time. The only consolation I have is that at least now I have a story to tell.