Today we continue the saga of watching someone slowly bleed to death while traveling across Ireland in a busload of senior citizens.
Traveling with a sick person brings to mind the Marx Brothers and the premise for their movie Room Service…you cannot throw a sick person out of a hotel. The same dynamic was working here, only a skewed version of it. Since a hotel cannot eject a sick person, they are not too keen on allowing them to check in. Luckily, the size of our group and the sea of blue hair took the attention off of my dad and enabled us to sneak him into our lodgings.
Pictured above, by the way, is the fabulous view of a peak on the Ring of Kerry, as taken from the Isle of Garnish in Bantry Bay. The Isle of Garnish was a garden, the whole island cultivated to please the owner, the Earl of Garnish, who was no relation to the Earl of Sandwich – even though both may have benefited from the association. So much for the sandwich humor.
Being on a bus full of seniors in a foreign land may sound plenty dull. That would have been the fact, had it not been for a fun-loving busdriver who made sure the oldsters got a few pints of Guinness into them at about 1030am every morning. We would pull up at a bar and pile in. A bite to eat, the standard salmon plate for me, and a couple pints and we were on our way. Drinking the Magner’s myself, the driver always encouraged me to take two or three pints cans with me to drink on the bus while the oldsters slept off the morning stout. “Ye’ll need it to put up with them old fairts,” he would tell me.
One evening, while staying in Killarney, we took a ride to one of the many attractions which were part and parcel of the price of the ticket. We went to Tralee to see the Siamsa Tire Theatre…siamsa tire is Irish for ‘entertainment countryside’. The theatre was a marvelous mix of new and old, castle-keep walls fitted with new walls between them to make a modern-medieval venue. The show was all dance…the four seasons, in fact, depicted in dance. ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’ were, pardon the pun, Flatley boring. If you have seen Michael Flatley or any of the incarnations of Lord of the Dance, you see a lot of feet moving very quickly and (unless the costumes are tight or revealing) not much else to hold my interest. Luckily, there was an intermission before ‘Winter’ and ‘Fall’.
The first two seasons had nearly put me to sleep, so staying in my seat, our driver, Paddy, approached me. “What ‘ere ye doin’ here, with these fairts,” he chided me, “There is a bar in the lobby. They have whiskey! Ye need it for this sort of thing!!” Heartily agreeing, I allowed Paddy to lead me to the lobby near the entrance where a bar was set up. It looked like this, in fact it was this, only with coffeepots and whiskey, John J. Jameson, of course.
Not being much of a whiskey-drinker, the first hot cop of alco-java went down a little slow. By the second cup, it tasted mighty fine and was quite an enjoyable drink. The house lights started dimming and the theatre personnel were tearing down the ‘bar’. “Do I have enough time for one more,” I asked, imploringly, and was allowed to purchase my third and last whiskey. It went very well with the legal Irish codiene tablets.
Slowly making my way back to my seat, Paddy caught me at the door of the auditorium. “Where, ye goin’,” he asked, as much as told me, “Ye doon’t want to be in there with awl them old fairts.” He grabbed my arm and pulled me acrosss the lobby, to the door and windows. “Look,” he exclaimed, pointing to a pub across the parkinglot on an adjoining street, “They have yer cider in there, I know!” Looking into the theatre, seeing my dad and all the blue hairs in their seats, made me shudder. “G’wan, Gw’an, with ye, ” Paddy ordered. “I’ll not drive off without ye. Just be back at half ten (1030pm)!”
It is hard enough to resist alcohol, as it is, without an enthusiastic Irishman prodding me. Stepping out the doors into the light rain, and making my way to the pub, a warm feeling swept over me and drink was not on my mind anymore. Tralee was not a place we would return to. It had a famous name (from the annual Rose of Tralee Festival, as well as the annual Tralee Matchmaking Festival, where people come from all over the world to meet a mate) so it had to be seen. The rain was steady, but light, and so did not bug me.
I was in an industrial town where everything was brick, from streets to walks to walls of buildings, all slick, shiny and wet with the rain. No streets ran parallel, so there were triangles, where streets met, all over. Not a soul was in sight. It was dark. I started singing, I have no idea what I sang, but it sounded Irish and, though not at the top of my lungs, it was loud enough to bring an echo from the bricks. I have no idea how long this went on before I remembered the theatre and the time. Managing to find my way deftly back, I could hear the music and clap-clap-clapping of the dancers’ feet two blocks away.
The show was almost over, it seemed, so ducking into the pub Paddy had pointed out to me, I managed to suck down two pints of Magners, when people began to emerge from the theatre. The sidestreets of Tralee were one of the best parts of the tour!
“Where were you,” asked my dad, who had slept through all four seasons?
“Just out for a walk, I am not much on this kind of dancing,” was my reply. Swaying back and forth in my shoes, he gave me that look he had given me all his life, the ‘pissed off at you for having fun’ look. This time I deserved it. We rolled off into the rainy black night and back to our hotel.