The Goban Saor: 'Umbrella Romana'

One time, the boastful son of a sea-captain - Cairbre O Loingsigh - returned from the south of Gaul (France) and told everyone how he had witnessed a Roman carnival and open-air theatre where he had seen the newly-invented 'Umbrella Romana' being used for the first time. This was a kind of parasol to protect spectators from the hot sun .

On hearing of this wonder, Brian O Fathaigh - the local king's son - expressed an interest in purchasing one the next time the sea-captain's son was in Gaul.

"..Well" said one of the merchants who was listening in - no doubt looking at the commercial possibilities of such an import "..why would anyone need to protect himself from the sun in Ireland! It would only be a curiosity to amuse the court !"

"..Of course it would be useful!" retorted the Goban"..It could be used to keep off the rain !"

The onlookers , most of them Celts who had kept off the rain for centuries with greasy lambs-wool hoods , started to chuckle at the idea until everyone was roaring with laughter , thinking the Goban was joking.

Seeing his advantage, the sea-captain's son, wishing to show up the Goban's ignorance and foolishness, said:

"..And tell me , Goban: if someone gave you an 'Umbrella Romana' at this moment , what would you do with it ?"

As it happened, a druid returning from Gaul the previous week had mentioned such a device to the Goban, so he had some idea how it worked :

"..Do you mean right now? What would I do with it?" asked the Goban, playing for time .

"..I mean " said the sea-captain's son , with gleeful anticipation "..right this very instant .."

"..Well now" said the Goban, having considered the question carefully and deeply :

"..First of all , I'd shove it right up your self-satisfied arse ...Then I'd open it. Then I'd give it a right good shaking , just to make sure every last drop of rain was shaken off of it . That's what I'd do ...!"