The West's Awakeby Cormac MacConnell
- An open letter to President Obama - some handy local tips for his visit to Ireland
- Some wonderful discoveries - relishing Irish trad session, The Gathering visitors and more
- The swallows return, beard competition, historic crimes and other musings
- A new taste of spring in Ireland- Tayto crisp’s cheese and onion chocolate bar
- Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth and the two Marys - Now it the time for a woman Prime Minister in Ireland
There is this spry little silvery Dublin man, maybe 50, with a gold Celtic cross dangling across his breast, a green anorak, twinkling eyes, a pint of Guinness, and we meet through cigarette whorls outside the front door of McGann's Pub in Doolin.
It is the heart of the October Bank Holiday weekend. The fabled Clare village is so crowded and lively there is hardly room for the fiddlers to operate their bowing arms or the concertina players to fully expand their instruments.
I was never too fond of the gray town of Gort in Galway from the first time I visited it over 40 years ago. It was an aloof kind of town, all cold stone facades, surrounded by Protestants on horseback territory, its main street and large square never cuddling around the visitor like other Galway towns.
It was also a town where, in that era, it was hard enough to get a decent lunch or even a good pot of tea and a sandwich during the daytime hours when a traveling hack might be arriving on duty. Its stories, too, seemed to be mostly on the dark and gloomy side; you were more likely to be reporting a tragedy than a celebration when you had to go to the Gort of the late fifties and sixties.
I got into the habit of passing through as quickly as possible unless I had to make a stop. If I research my own impressions from that era, I think they were due to getting cold soup and an insipid sandwich in an unfriendly pub the first time I called.
I have two urgent problems this week. I may be able to rescue the Irish economy in a matter of weeks with the help of an Emirates bank clerk named Suleman Bajoga whose name appeared in my junk email an hour ago, and I will move on that inside the hour.
My most pressing problem, however, is presented by our beautiful golden retriever, the virginal Anika. This is top of the list, and that says a lot about the rating which economic problems have for your average Irishman.
What has happened is that our Anika, who is three and much loved by the Dutch Nation and myself, became strongly romantically inclined about 12 days ago. We discussed the matter over a glass of wine, the Dutch Nation and I, and decided that she deserved a romantic interlude and a litter of puppies as much as any other.
Meanwhile, the cottage was surrounded by howling and growling suitors of all breeds and none. We have a cat flap in the front door, and a small Terrier called Max attempted to enter the house that way. A huge black Labrador called Luke kept trying to break in to Anika's pen.
Her demeanor, I have to confess, was quite sluttish towards all males and sundry.
I was so shocked and lividicated last Tuesday evening with a story headlined “Ireland Has Worst Quality of Life” on IrishCentral.com that I'm certain our lady editor was equally shocked in New York at getting copy from me within hours.
I normally don't file early and Debbie often gently reminds me of that. I suppose it is an ill wind that blows no good at all.
Anyway, the story was based on a recent poll by the consumer protection website uSwitch (a poll which I later perused in detail) and the survey said that, in terms of quality of life, Ireland came bottom of the European survey in relation to 16 comparable factors in 10 major European countries.
I have maybe one genuinely sad bad day every two years. When it comes, it is very bad indeed.
There is no sun and there are no stars and no bright light anywhere. I am deeply down. And when that sad day comes, I get into my car as soon as I can and drive to the sea alone.