Darby O’Gill and the Little People

It was only months ago that the entire world awakened to the news that 90 year old actor Sean Connery had passed away. Connery, tall, dark and with a Scottish accent as soothing as butterscotch was the first actor to portray fictional British secret agent James Bond on film, originating the role in Dr No and going on to complete a further six titles in the series. To be honest I was never a fan of Agent 007 and his Martinis. Nor was I hugely impressed with him in most of his other films though as he aged and gained that slightly grizzled appearance and opted for more quirky roles I tended to warm to him. Roles such as Indiana Jones’ eccentric father and as the political prisoner in The Rock. Unlike many I didn’t mourn Connory’s death, preferring to reflect that he seemed to have lived a good life.

A few days afterwards I suffered one of my manic decluttering sessions. These are slap hazard events and generally occur when I’ve been advised to expect house guests. It meant that the complete contents of all storage units, shelves and the book case in my lounge room were dispersed across the floor with no space available to move. With no room to walk the cloud of dust was thick and played havoc with my sinuses as I began to fill a cardboard box with items for the charity bin.

Amongst the Neil Sedaka cassette tapes and a Playschool CD, I came across an old Sean Connery DVD that I had purchased when DVDs were the latest big thing when my daughters were both just toddlers over thirty years ago.

Darby O’Gill And The Little People is a Walt Disney movie released in 1959 when Connery was still fresh faced and well before the statement moustache. It tells the story of an irishman, Darby O’ Gill, with his taste for liquor and tall tales, including his encounters with King Brian of the Leprechauns. It is a movie full of whimsy, rollicking irish music, a scary-as-hell banshee and the proverbial pot of gold. Young Connery played the love interest to O’Gill’s pink cheeked daughter with a decidedly odd Irish accent.

It’s funny how memories can be triggered from nothing, isn’t it?

I remember having been enchanted with this movie as a child, back in the days when television was new to Australia and the whole family would gather around on a Sunday evening to watch Disneyland.

My father must have enjoyed this movie too as he was forever reminding my sister and I to “keep an eye open for the Leprechauns who live at the bottom of the garden”. Along with the fairies of course.

Sometimes, early in the mornings or towards sun set, he would hold my hand and quietly walk me down towards the back of the family property just to look for leprechauns. This was an area which was less manicured with fruit trees and wild flowers in abundance. At times the vegetation was so wild that I was too scared to visit that part of the yard by myself in case lions and tigers were hiding in the long grass.

Television has a lot to answer for really……

My Dad was a hard man, a man’s man, who always believed in Luck. Although he never spoke of his time in Bomber Command and Pathfinder Force during World War 2 he often repeated that it was just good luck that had him survive flying over the night skies of Germany. Luck. The Luck of the Irish. A lucky leprechaun.

When my own daughters came along they too were introduced to the mysteries and beauty of the garden. Didn’t matter which garden, whose garden, or where the garden was located. There were always butterflies to watch, magpies to chase, leaves to collect and the ongoing search for the elusive King Brian and the Little People.

On odd occasions I still find myself daydreaming in my own garden and wondering if a leprechaun will present. It’s one of the reasons that I put the effort into the yard that I do. The results are well worth the effort and provide much pleasure.

I haven’t caught a glimpse of King Brian yet, though I regularly listen to Bing Crosby crooning Galway Bay whilst weeding. Or The Pogues.

This movie will not be going the way of surplus books and Conway Twitty albums. It is now destined for my baby grandson who can look for Leprechauns amongst the red soil and rock faces of Arnham Land.

And so a new generation of Sean Connery fans begins.