Our town land of about ten houses is called Cloonasee, ‘meadow of the fairies.’ My daughter has seen a couple of colorful fairies under a bush and my neighbor's sensible six-year-old son had a white one on his shoulder recently when he kicked a ball into the orchard. He tried to come in from the garden with it to show it to his Mam but it vanished.
The Cloonasee ladies were invited to dinner by the same neighbor on Saturday night and the conversation turned to recent history from this little patch of Google earth.
Plastic Paddies, (people with Irish parents but born and raised in London) they had bought their farmhouse from a Belgium lady about ten years ago, whose husband, Staf, was living in a mobile home in the garden (they didn’t get on). When my friend moved in they had to dispose of his enormous collection of newspapers that left him barely enough room to breathe. He now lives in a council house in the village and is a strange, shriveled, angry looking creature in a wheel chair with long curly white hair.
He once lay down in the post office and refused to move, protesting about something, but no one can remember what. For years there was a rumor that was brushed off, that he was a Nazi. But in 2007 a documentary by Cathal O Shannon came out RTE about Nazi war criminals who had found refuge in Ireland (including Albert Folens founder of Ireland’s leading academic text book publisher). Staf van Velthoven, one of the last surviving ones, appeared on the program, he stated without remorse that he was a Flemish member of the Waffen SS (the Waffen was the armed unit of the SS).
Another bit of juicy scandal from Cloonasee is the story of Tommy St George, whose fields bounded ours to the South. Tommy was a gentlemen bachelor who also owned the pub ‘St Georges’ on the quay in the village. The pub had not been open for years when a friend came to visit me and happened to knock on the door looking for a drink. Tommy’s ancient sister, Mary Ann, let him in and he asked for a beer. After enjoying the bottle of beer and the view of the tide at a little table by the window for an hour or so he asked how much he owed her. She sweetly said ‘O nothing, we’re not a pub at all anymore’
Tommy died a few of years ago and left all his property to the church. One day soon after it was said that a fella looking remarkably like Tommy, but with a white ponytail, had stopped for a drink in Ballindereen claiming that he was his son. Tommy was duly exhumed and DNA tests proved this to be true. Peter St George inherited the property. A local lady had become pregnant by the respectable Tommy and moved to London to live with some cousins and have Peter. She used to bring him back every summer when he was a child claiming she was his nanny and she was looking after him for the holidays. Not everyone was happy about Peter reappearing and an angry old local called Agnes apparently put a curse on him and he died soon after of an asthma attack. It then turned out that Peter had a daughter he had not known about and she popped up and inherited and sold the farm and the pub.
It is now being converted to a café, due to open at the Cuckoo festival at the end of April.
There is no shortage of conversation in Cloonasee.