(Daithi O Se is one of Ireland’s leading TV personalities who presents the Rose of Tralee, the most popular program on television.He and his Irish American bride Rita Talty will marry this summer)
All we hear these days I’m afraid is ECB, IMF and a general SOS from every corner. The Stability Treaty is stuck in the middle of all of it. 35% of voters are undecided on what to do and I’m not surprised the percentage is so high.
There are three main wells to draw from with big hitters on all sides, the Yes and No sides and now the ‘we need more time’ people. There is scaremongering on all sides, which leaves a lot of people confused!
My few days in Portugal was a nice break away from it, I haven’t had a break in a while. The very fact that the sun was beaming down on me and the sky cloudless was enough to make me forget all of the above. We were in Villamoura in the Algarve and it seemed that half of Ireland was there with me, along with half the Irish who live in England, Scotland, and Wales. I was people watching every day. It was easy to pick the Irish out, even from the backs of their arms!
It was great being on the beach pretending to read a book and to listen to all that they had to say. Wherever I plonked myself on the beach, within an hour there would be a gang close and gossiping, mostly women I have to say.
They were even talking about the Rose of Tralee at one point. All good thank God. I hadn’t shaved, I’d a cap and sunglasses on and was far enough away not to be copped. My own mother would have walked past me. I love to listen to people and what gets under their skin. We never really overhear nice gossip, it always seems to be negative.
One woman got stuck into the guy who was collecting the money for the sun loungers on the beach. He was looking for another 2 euro from her and she wasn’t letting go. She got her way at the end, to a pat on the back from her friend as to say you were right to stick to your guns. She frightened the life out of the poor young fella. She reminded me of my own mother.
Irish Mams find value in the smallest of things. My Mother once stood outside Tesco asking people if they were going to use the tokens they had gotten. There was a promotion for a free flight to the USA, buy one get one free. She stayed there until she filled her booklet. My mother later joked with us saying that this level of ‘meanness’ pronounced ‘Main-ness’ in Kerry was handed down for generation to generation, which meant of course that we were in line for this ‘gift’.
I think with the way things are going you might see more people collecting tokens, and rightly so. That type of stuff went out the door when the Celtic Tiger came in. The Americans are brilliant with tokens and even more so with coupons. They even have a reality show about it called ‘Extreme Couponing’, I kid you not. I’ve just been informed that this show can be seen if you have the cable channels.
The locals in Portugal are very like us, very friendly and willing to help on every occasion. While the coastline is beautiful, the land looks barren. There was a break in the weather on the Wednesday and whatever put it into my head that that was the end of the fine weather. We think like this at home. Once the clouds come, that’s it. Particularly in West Kerry where I’m from, when the fog comes it tends to stay. You’d almost need a storm to blow to get rid of it.
Then Thursday morning came with the sun in full glory again. If we could only get this weather at home. Even for two weeks during the summer, even one straight week, instead of having mist down around our ears in the middle of July. I think Pat Shortt was correct when he said that it would be a great Country if we could roof it!
There are a good few Irish bars in the area; a few of them might be done under the ‘trade descriptions act’ I’m afraid. One place called Grogan’s. The green, orange and white on the outside, but a shrine to West Ham soccer on the inside.
There was Irish and English breakfasts in all the bars. I was dying to find out what the difference was. I found out very easily. With the Irish breakfast you got black and white pudding. You also got charged euro 1.50 extra for your Irish breakfast with your black and white pudding.
The few days started on a bad footing. We were wrecked from an earlier flight that had us in Portugal at 9.15 in the morning. So we were up at 3a.m. and didn’t really sleep at all the night before. We landed onto the beach and I fell asleep for a few hours.
When I woke I was roasting. To be honest I was sore already and I knew the worst was still to come. We went back to the hotel and to be more honest I looked like a Honda 50! I was pale white on my back and red raw on the front. If it didn’t look so funny in the mirror I’d have been in tears.
I piled on the after sun cream like plaster and began to come around two days after. Not great for a four night break. Thanks be to God for those gossips on the beach they got me through a tough time!