You may or may not know Barry Kane but he is a man and he exists in as much as any of us of ever can. Barry is 22, roguishly handsome (clearly) and attends Griffith College Dublin.
One of the great questions of our age is ‘what makes a man?’ Genetics? Upbringing? Some pre-ordained cosmic plan? Perhaps one day we’ll figure it out. For now, however, we’ll try to go one better and explore what makes a legend. Today, Barry has established himself as a unifying figure, crossing boundaries and uniting the youth of Ireland under a shroud of confusion and ego. Love him? Hate him? Don’t know him? Ignore him? You can’t ignore him. Oh…em…dammit…Anyway, Barry wasn’t so much born in the traditional sense. Rather, one day, he just woke up on a flat black rock, scared and screaming at the sky.
The next part of the story is divisive. Some say he was raised by eagles in a lost mountain range where dark creatures roam and night lasts for months at a time. Some say the rock was in Kildare and, after a few minutes of god-awful racket, a family of seagulls came to investigate. Initially, they seemed intent on devouring this strange, squealing creature, but, after a philosophical discussion which lasted long into Barry’s first night, the birds decided they probably shouldn’t risk it. After-all, they reasoned, Seagulls don’t eat rocks. On the other hand…they do nest on them. At this point, the rock baby was obviously far too small to nest upon but one day, one day!
From this day forth and with this cunning seagull logic guiding them, the gull family made Barry one of their own. For four years, Barry and his new family knew happiness. By day they would fish, frolic and defecate on tourists. By night, they met up with the other local seagull families and experimented with various forms of seaweed. At the weekend, they would park themselves outside a chipper in Howth and mug anyone stupid enough to have their food ‘to go’. It was a happy, care-free time for all concerned.
As he grew older, however, Barry began to realise he was different to his brothers and sisters. For one thing, he was quite a lot larger than any of them, with thicker legs and bluer eyes. For another, he was slightly less feathery and was encountering serious difficulties when it came to laying eggs or assisting in their fertilisation. After much soul searching, he decided to leave his well-loved home and go in search of others like him. His family all donated some feathers so he wouldn’t have to go out into the world naked. Tears were shed and hugs exchanged and then Barry left the nest, never to return. It should be noted that to this day, Barry still gets hungry when he smells regurgitated fish (or vomit in general). In addition, he is theoretically capable of flying, but chooses not to do so out of contempt for the air, which he refers to as ‘my rejected breath’.
In other versions of Barry’s Tale, which do not involve seagulls, he eventually found his way out of that lost mountain range around this time. No description is offered for his feathery costume but one can guess that it probably wasn’t anything pretty. Regardless of how he got this far, we do know that for a number of months, Barry discreetly wandered Ireland, dressed only in feathers, gradually coming to terms with human society. Like a modern day ‘Littlest Hobo’, Seagull/Eagle Boy traipsed from Mizen Head to Malin Head, solving crime and helping out as he could. Stories appeared in local papers. Legends spread. But before anyone could figure out the boy’s secret, he was gone.
Then, one fateful day, whilst rummaging outside a very famous Harcourt Street nightclub for the source of a strong fishy odour, Barry met the late Doctor Hubert Phillips, renowned anthropologist and philanthropist. Phillips mistook this strange child for a member of the Phlup tribe, a legendary Celtic race acknowledged by his peers as a figment of the doctor’s imagination. By this stage in his life, Hubert’s once great mind had deteriorated under the influence of tribal ‘remedies’ and an advanced case of syphilis. For this reason, he was incredibly paranoid about sharing his discovery with the world. Instead, he brought young Barry home with the intention of studying his habits. However, the arrogant little whelp shortly began to grow on Philips and he soon anointed himself the child’s stepfather. Within weeks, Barry had spoken his first human words. In his faltering, child voice, strained from years of speaking seagull, he announced ‘One day, I will be the most powerful bird on the planet.’ After some detailed explanation by Philips, he later rephrased this.
Barry was home schooled for the next seven years, travelling the world with Phillips and learning about human life and culture. Phillips was an amazing teacher and Barry learned much from him. Anthropology. Social graces. Good and evil. The difference between potatoes and Mr Potato Head (that one took some time). He still felt a somewhat Pavlovian response when he heard a seagull cry in the distance, but knew deep inside that he had made the right choice. For the second time in his life, Barry was content.
But life is a cruel and twisted mistress. Before long, the syphilis overwhelmed the last of Phillip’s strength. At the time, they were exploring the Ossuary at Sedlec, a church near Prague lined with human bones. Religion had meant little to young Barry but now, lost and alone once more, he decided the time had come.
The Vatican, Tibet, India, The American Bible Belt, the Middle East, Israel, Scientology HQ. Barry was forcefully suffused in the culturally constructed phenomena of each religion. Dulled by the details of these alien faiths, he regressed into the formalities of his own hybrid avian-Celtic culture. He inappropriately touched people as his seagull parents had taught him, while clacking in Phlup as instructed by his stepfather. Barry learned much in this period: How to suppress the frenzy that ensued when he came near salt water. How to pray. How to love. How to sound spiritually intact.
The problem was, with the self-serving attitude inherent in all seagulls/eagles, Barry learnt how to pray to himself. He also learnt how to love himself.
So that pretty much took up the next two years.
In the aftermath of this lonely, sticky period, Barry began to grow frustrated and despair of his isolation. Religion didn’t cater for his kind. No mention of his Phlup brethren for a start! Thus, our hero began to experiment with alternative spiritual movements. This culminated in his attempting to contact the noted spiritualist and tabloid hate figure, Alistair Crowley. Unfortunately Crowley had been dead for quite a while at this point so Barry was reduced to attempting a séance. He did have limited success in this regard but soon realised that he had been talking to a different ‘Crowley’.
The Ouija Board repeated ‘You don’t mess with THE CROWLEY’ over and over.
This perplexed Barry. Couldn’t the dead just use phones and stop being so damn difficult!
Barry despaired, angry, egotistical and bird-like.
It was during this bitter, cynical period that he decided to inflict his will upon the world of man.
He set about doing this through a series of elaborate stunts.
In Rome, he performed an 80’s style rap decrying the Christian Church complete with a move-perfect ‘Hammer-Time’ dance routine. He then de-hymenated several nuns with no more than a raised eyebrow.
In New York, he spat on ‘Ground Zero’(a sign of respect in his culture) resulting in the appearance of a temporary beanstalk which stretched from the Earth to the Heavens but freaked the American aviation authorities right out. Not to mention one poor cat who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In Utah, he tickled and teased several Mormons until they spontaneously erupted, twitching volcanoes of whiskey and blood. Even Barry was confused.
In Mayo, he arranged for a goat to be elected to the local council. The goat turned out to be an excellent politician and is currently scheming an assault on the Dail.
Eventually, Barry decided to settle down and arranged to attend a hip, ironically named film school. This went well for a time. Then less well. Then quite badly indeed. In the end, he was chased off the campus with pitchforks and flaming canisters filled with forgotten Czech movies. He ran and ran. But he did so ironically so that made it ok.
Then he came to Dublin.
And to Griffith College.
And called himself Kane, for reasons we don’t yet know.
There he met two equally unorthodox young men with seagulls in their own pasts.
These days, he‘s trying to steal souls and ruin lives through his weird little radio shows.
Check ‘em out at AmazingPTB on Mixcloud if you so wish.
Madness awaits those who do.
We all need a little madness sometimes
Speaking of madness, you’ll also find Barry guesting on the odd podcast courtesy of Diarmuid and Dave’s House of Madness.
The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance received from Kate Morgan in preparing this piece, much as she would almost certainly prefer that he didn’t. Sorry Kate 😉