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« I'm reading at Bookslam, in London, on Thursday, February 28th 2008 | Main | Toasted Heretic in Clogs »

Memories Of A Small Tribe In Galway

and this is your brain on drugs.jpg

Along with a few other writers (DBC Pierre, Howard Marks, Sebastian Horsley etc) I was asked to contribute some of my few surviving tattered memories to the current issue of Hot Press. The issue is a wonderfully exploitative and tacky DRUGS!!! special, with a coke-smeared model on the cover who happens to look a bit like the young Irish lingerie model, Katie French, who died recently after her coke-fueled 24th birthday party.

As the memories I contributed were from the same place and time as the Toasted Heretic gigs we've been discussing in the forum, I thought I'd repeat them here...


My earliest experience of drugs was as a member of a small tribe in Galway.


We would collect magic mushrooms in the traditional manner, on the sacred golf-course of Knocknacarra. Every season, Joe Seal, a priest of the tribe, would make magic mushroom wine. My first trip, the young men of the tribe gathered in a holy place in Salthill and drank deeply of mushroom tea. A heck of a lot of mushroom tea. Then we went to the Warwick. The night lasted several years, and I sank into the floor several inches whenever I lay down, which was often. Then it started raining in the Warwick. Then tribes of pygmies wandered across the dance floor.


It was unnerving, and many of our tribe fled. (Days later, we discovered that a busload of dwarves on holiday were staying in the Warwick: and that the place was so packed the condensation had been pouring from the ceiling.)


Some of us ended up in Spar, where one of our number demanded that the shopkeeper slice his Mars Bar into many slices with the bacon slicer. However, his urgent request was not understood, and our tribesman fled. Soon many of the tribesmen were in flight, through space and time. Several walked a number of miles out of town. One slept in a field. Another was found at dawn, still walking, past Spiddal, and was brought home by the forces of law and order.


They were the best days of our lives, and they destroyed many of us. Over the next few years, some of us achieved enlightenment. Some of us died. Joe Seal died in India. A girl I liked killed herself. A girl I loved lost her mind and never found it again, and is still lost. Quite a few of us ended up in psychiatric hospitals, or with terrible depressions… We didn't know what we were doing, we didn't take it seriously enough. As Philip K. Dick said of his friends, and of mine,

"They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed - run over, maimed, destroyed - but they continued to play anyhow."

I have two very strong opinions on drugs. Those who are against drugs should take more of them: those who are for drugs should take less of them.  Most societies make sure that their young people take dangerous drugs in controlled circumstances, very rarely, and with an experienced guide to make sure they come back with new knowledge of themselves, and of their relationship to the universe. We neck anything that's going, head down to Abrakebabra, and fight. Few achieve enlightenment in Abrakebabra.




A note on the images in this post:

The first is a fabulous fractal freakout called "This Is Your Brain On Drugs", by the artist Sven Geier, who also works in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The second image is of Yapa, Joel, JJ, Posen and Albi, visiting London from the island of Tanna, at the southern tip of the island nation of Vanuatu. It is from the acclaimed Channel 4 documentary, Meet The Natives.

The third image is a crop of a digital landscape called "Enlightenment", created using Terragen by the Arizona artist Pat Goltz.

References (19)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (13)

Hope you don't mind Julian, but we've added you to our 'blogroll'! Declan.
February 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMoore Group
Mind? I'm honoured! No better blogroll.

Made any more revolutionary discoveries lately? Or failing that, brewed any more prehistoric beer? I think you were planning a spring brew, using meadowsweet, no?

For the benefit of non-Irish readers: Dec Moore and Billy Quinn turned Irish archaeology on its head last year. They made the news all over the world with their very persuasive theory (which explains a lot of otherwise mysterious Irish monuments), that Ireland had 4,500 microbreweries, and were thus World Beer Champions, in the Bronze Age... The clincher was making the actual beer, Bronze Age style, and drinking it... hang on, I'll search out some links...

Here they are in Spiegel Online,1518,524436,00.html

The BBC:


Here's what they were saying in India:

Anyway, you get the idea. Punk archaeology at its finest.

Hey Dec, I mentioned your cathedral-climbing past over in the forum last week:

Fel free to disagree with my memories...
February 15, 2008 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
Cheers Julian, we’ve only recently entered the blogsphere/blogosphere, interweb world of blogging, and will be announcing the date of our now planned annual Headford Hot Rock Ale Festival shortly. As soon as the meadowsweet season comes about again we’ll be busy brewing this seasons ale.

In my hazy recollection, Ski was already up there before me, but I could be wrong. I did experience a minor head injury around that time, which has affected my long term memory (but no-one believes me).
Julian I miss you! I can't live without your book recommendation! I tried handling it by myself, taking any book that looks good or sounds interesting, but I always find myself getting bored very quickly. Your blog on the other hand was quite interesting those past weeks. Sorry I couldn't leave a comment, I am really busy with school and family stuff lately.

Hope I could get some books to read, but if your too busy, or just don't have the patience, I'll understand.

February 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAriel Vardi
Hi Ariel, sorry I haven't followed through with that, I AM busy but that's not it, I've developed some odd mental wah wah hoo hoo that won't let me finish the blasted thing and post it. I've written it, lost it, rewritten it, thrown it away. It's not a difficult thing to do, but I can't seem to do it. I'll try and take another leap off the clifftop soon. We'll see...
February 24, 2008 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
Got a lump in my throat reading your article.

Still miss Joe.

5000 pookies in one pot! A miracle any of us survived really.

So many stars have gone out since those happy nights.

No country for old men. The salmon falls, the mackerel crowded seas...
October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHugh
Was it 5,000? Astonishing nights. And yes, I miss Joe too. He should have become a saintly hermit, the only inhabitant of a very small island off the coast of Conemara. Talking to his brothers the seals, and worshipping the moon. With friends calling out the odd time in boats...

I have another memory of walking through Eyre Square one night, blitzed on pookies, as the Galway All-Ireland team came home in triumph. There were weird figures shouting and roaring high in every tree, crowds swaying and chanting and melting on every bus shelter in the square, searchlights blasting the sky above SuperMacs, and distorted Tannoy announcements in Martian. A curious sci-fi mixture of Tarzan and the Nuremberg rallies.
October 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
Reminds me of happier carefree wild days in forests and towns that became forests filled with the weird and wonderful. I miss the innocence and sense of adventure of it all. The thrill of exploring a familiar setting turned into a fairyland, we always seemed to come out ok, we were lucky I guess.
October 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTony
Yes. 5000. The tea was so glutinous the sugar wouldn't dissolve and if you poured in a little milk, it seperated. Soup would perhaps be a better description.

Of course our tolerence had built up over the preceding few months. Apart from Zulu for whom it was the first trip of the year. We spent the whole night trying to stop him swallowing his tongue while he merrilly fitted away in front of us.

I have a vague notion that we tried to watch Highlander and a bunch of pornographic cartoons on video. Remember watching the movie again about 5 years later and being terribly disappointed.

When I die and they lay me to rest and go to the place that's the best, it'll look like Salthill golf course on a breezy November evening in 1987.
November 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHugh
Hello Julian,
i just happened upon your site while looking for Swinging Swine music.I went to UCG '85-'88, failed every exam i
sat in time honoured Galway style but spent most of my time having fun.I was overcome with waves of memories and emotions as i read your blogs and saw Joe Seals name.He was the centre of our gang all those years ago and when i heard of his death all those years ago i thought then as i do now that those who the Gods love die young as we grow old and are left with memories.He showed me how to make tea properly and as for his beautiful wine whaty can i say.Now i've found your site i'll become a regular visitor- i'll start with Jude.
Regards and keep up the good work.
January 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Cole
I can't believe i posted this without checking it , it was ever clear to me why my acedemic career was
never going to happen.I think i'll take up golf.
Regards Johnny.
January 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Cole
John that's lovely (and Hugh, and Tony... I watch the delightfully organic growth of this thread with great interest, but I try to restrain myself from babbling away after every single comment 'cause that would be annoying...)

Zulu, Joe Seal, golf course wine... strange days indeed.
January 18, 2010 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
Ah yes , Joe, i knew him well and his Artwork still survives in the basement of Vagabonds night club in Salthill-his spirit touched many and was the first activist I and many others knew of. Driving around Galway with a giant questionmark painted in Khaki/Chamolflage on his Cake Box. Open minded people dont last long on this Planet just ask Jesus or John Lennon.

I remember once, taking Mushrooms, in moderation, at his Pad in Rahoon, he handed me the moulded Scull of a Neanderthall to see what I could see. Of course I went outside and saw a Skelaton standing on the corner, premonition? Maybee, seeing as he is buried 200 yards from that same spot today. Beside Rebbecca Burke, our own Angel, remember her, killed by a pissed Biker Imbacille. Joe, he wrote a Comic about a Shadow Man that travelled the World, trying all the Drugs that could be tried, St Joseph , remember!
May 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMono

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