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Keep your head low (troubles)

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Book on the Irish "troubles" from 1997.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – I’m at home. It’s dark and a light snow is falling. In the house I’m with some other people. I look out the window and I see two jet airplanes in the sky … one is an Irish airline and the other is an American airline.

The Irish plane seems affected by the inclement weather. Or maybe not. It’s hard to say, but it is going down in flames and I see and hear the explosion in the distance. It’s shocking and disturbing.

But what is strange about it all is that after this aviation catastrophe, no one seems to know about it. I ask people, “Did you hear about that plane crash near the airport?” And no one seems to know a thing about it.

It gets to the point, in the dream, where I am questioning whether or not I really witnessed this plane crash. Did I imagine it? What really happened and why am I the only one who seems to have witnessed it? It got to the point where I felt like I was witnessing some mysterious event somehow syncing with the events of September 11, 2001.

In fact, I had just re-read Eric Wargo’s now-four-year-old blog post at The Nightshirt titled “Trauma Displaced in Time: Premonition, Synchronicity, and Enjoyment.”  I was reminded it of it via my sync buddy over at the fantastic, thoughtful website, Diagonal22: Transmissions From Space.


Now, I should mention that I have been watching an Amazon Prime series called The Widow, starring a badass Kate Beckinsale playing the widow of an aid worker who allegedly perished in a plane crash over the African rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Beckinsale’s character, based in Wales, is convinced her husband is actually still alive, after seeing a clip of him filmed during riots in Congo’s capital of Kinshasa.

Without spoiling the plot, not all is as it seems in regards to the plane crash, which claimed to have only one survivor. While I have not seen the end, there is a sense that a conspiracy and cover-up has been utilized and that Beckinsale’s character’s husband is somehow either involved or a victim of the cover-up.

You learn about African warlords, the battle over land and more, and children forced to become soldiers. That last part is particularly disturbing part of The Widow, but is a portrayal of the sad reality in central Africa, where fragile governments are able to do little to stop it.

The actor Matthew Le Nevez, an Australian, was born in Canberra and plays the missing/dead husband Will Mason in The Widow. The fact that Le Nevez is from Canberra (a city created by my great-great uncle Walter Burley Griffin in 1913) and Australia has come up a lot, synchromystically speaking, in recent weeks, I am paying close attention to all of these clues.

Anyway, that series may have influenced the dream, although plane crash dreams have happened to me before.

What is odd, though, is that in my dream, the crashed plane was Irish in origin. In fact, I seem to be a Ryanair airliner, a Boeing 737-800. Ryanair, which was founded in 1984 (commencing operations on July 8, 1985, just days before the Live Aid concert), is based in Dublin, Ireland.

A low-cost airline, Ryanair has had a lot of problems over the years, but has not been involved in any serious accidents or crashes, save for one: Ryanair Flight 4102 from Frankfurt, Germany had to make an emergency landing in Rome, Italy following bird strikes that damages the undercarriage of the plane. A few passengers and crew suffered minor injuries.

In any event, I was thinking about that name, “Ryan,” when I woke up from this dream. The name has long been popular for boys and girls, and it’s Old Irish origins are rather vague, perhaps meaning “little king” or “illustrious.”

Regardless, I was a bit shocked when I stumbled on a story today in The Irish Times headlined: “Ethiopian airlines crash: Shock at Clare man’s death.”

The rather lengthy and informative story is about a United Nations aid worker from Cork, Ireland, Michael “Mick” Ryan, who was killed on March 10, 2019, in the tragic crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which took off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia while scheduled to land in Nairobi, Kenya. Mick Ryan was the only Irish national killed on Flight 302.

Needless to say, I was stunned by this plane crash link to the name “Ryan,” the plane crash scenario in The Widow (which I am in the midst of watching) and the aid-worker-in-Africa link.


Now, here is where the “war” angle comes into all of this.

After waking rather suddenly from my dream state, I noticed a song was running through my head, a song I had not heard recently – “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero” by Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods.

A band from Cincinnati, Ohio, they hit the charts in a big way in June 1974 with their cover of Paper Lace’s UK hit (they were from Nottingham, England) song about a man who goes to war and does not come home. In the Paper Lace promo video from approximately 1973, the band is dressed in American Civil War Union blue, indicating that the song is not necessarily about the Vietnam War, which was winding down by the time of its original release by Paper Lace. But in the comments section it is clear that many fans of the song associate it with the war in Southeast Asia, where many Vietnamese died and many American soldiers did not return home.

To my ear, the slightly more uptempo version by Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods is the superior version. 

I recall the BD & TH's version of the song used by the stoned-sounding disc jockey in Reservoir Dogs, and the story-song’s message, about a woman who begs that Billy refuse to go to war and keep his head “low,” is ignored by poor Billy.

A screenshot from the 1974 performance of "Billy, Don't Be a Hero" on Dinah! by Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods. (YouTube)

Yes, it’s been voted one of the worst songs of the 1970’s, but I find it to be musically and lyrically engaging. And featuring a timeless theme of men and tragedy that is war, and how going to war can affect so many people, particularly the one’s you love.

But why was this song playing in my head, nibbling away like the earworm it is?

I thought about it and I sensed that it was about a coming war. That with many parts of the world becoming increasingly unmoored, authoritarian and nationalistic, that a global war seems almost inevitable.

I watched a clip on YouTube showing a garishly-dressed Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods performing “Billy” on Dinah Shore’s Dinah! Show on October 25, 1974 which featured guests, including Gavin MacLeod (who was Murray on The Mary Tyler Moore Show at the time, a few years before he was skipper on The Love Boat), Jean Stapleton (Edith on All in the Family) and actor/football player Rosey Grier, who was Robert F. Kennedy’s bodyguard the day RFK was assassinated in Los Angeles in June 1968. Grier would grab the gun from a dazed Sirhan Sirhan. 

And most interestingly, in this jampacked episode of Dinah!, former Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa makes an appearance - just nine months before he disappears. Curiously, this year, Martin Scorsese has a new film coming out titled The Irishman, and stars Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa and Robert DeNiro as Frank Sheeran, a labor union official with mob ties who is thought to have been involved in Hoffa's death/disappearance. 

But something suggested I keep looking. I found some of those K-Billy deejay clips with comedian Steven Wright talking about “Billy Don’t Be a Hero.” But I also found a high-def YouTube clip of “Billy” on The Music Enhancement Channel, where it was introduced with a background matching that of the tricolor orange, white and green of the flag of the Republic of Ireland! The orange is for the Irish Protestants. The green for the Catholics. And the white representing the peace that is sought for the two religious groups after much fighting.

So, another Irish sync here.

And finally, I noticed a book in my office library that caught my eye - the scholarly The Origins of the Present Troubles in Northern Ireland by Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, and featured in the main image accompanying this post.

The opening martial drumming of the snare drum on the Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods version of "Billy" is interesting, giving the song that urgent, "march to war" feeling. The cover photo of this book on the "Troubles" features a Protestant Orange Lodge band marching past Catholic residents in a road in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Where this book came from, I really don't know. And it was odd that I even noticed amidst my extensive office library collection.

In the editor's foreword to the book, Harry Hearder writes that the "Troubles" were essentially a civil war and that between 1969 and 1972, "the percentage of the population of Northern Ireland killed in the Troubles was twice that of Britain during the Boer War, and twice that of the USA in either Korea or Vietnam" Hearder continues, writing: "For so small a country as Northern Ireland this was, indeed, a war. 

And so we continue to think, dream and sync ... in these troubled times of ours.

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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