Even after all these years in my trade I am still often astounded at the lateral fashion in which good stories come flying out of strange places and drop down at your feet.

The first yarn of that kind for me this week came along one of the aisles in my local supermarket in lovely Killaloe and happened because I have never been able to pass by any of those display tables laden with free samples of strong cheese.

One of the first things I said to Jim O'Brien, the Foynes cheese maker behind the table, was that he had the cast of a Protestant face that one avoided in the Ulster of my childhood. He denied that connection with a laugh as I devoured samples of his cheese, and the conversation between two strangers took off from there.

And it was from Jim I heard that the beautiful Maureen O'Hara, in her recent will, bequeathed many of the costumes she wore in her landmark films such as The Quiet Man to the Flying Boats Museum in Foynes made famous by the flying-boat service operated there by her husband Captain Charles Blair, a legend in his own lifetime in the field of aviation.

Much space in that museum, actually, is devoted to Captain Blair, and I think one of the facts O'Brien revealed to me was that the couple actually met in midair away back in the forties on a flight which the flame-haired star was making back home to Ireland.

I probably cost Jim a small fortune as I devoured most of his cheese samples, and we jointly recalled the glories of The Quiet Man as other potential customers passed by.

He told me that he had been a dairy farmer for many years in the mountains parish of Ballynahill above Foynes but, in recent years handed the operation over to a son, trained to be an artisan cheese maker and, now an award winner many times over, is happy with his new direction.

And then, as happens, we exchanged names and shook hands, and dammit if he is not also a ballad singer who has shared many's the session with my talented brother Mickie in McMunn's in Ballybunion and John B. Keane's and elsewhere.

And he had also heard I was the older brother that wrote for newspapers, and I was glad to tell him that Mickie will be inducted into the prestigious Rostrevor Musical Hall of Fame before this month is out. And, as we reluctantly parted, I bought a block of his spiced cheddar and it tastes of paradise.

Incredibly, just a few hours later, still remembering the epic appeal of The Quiet Man, I was in my former town of Corofin on the edge of The Burren doing a little work, and who did I not meet for the first time in a couple of years but my old friend the writer, film producer, musicologist and broadcaster P.J. Curtis, a living legend whose many distinctions and achievements include being the very first man to bring an acoustic guitar into Clare decades ago now.

PJ was quietly and properly agog because his unique film A Nightingale Falling, which has been hugely critically acclaimed in these islands, based on his book too, is now available in the U.S. as well.

Get it as quick as ye can on Netflix over there because it is both a human and historic fragment from one of the many troubled eras of our quite recent history. I won't spoil it for you, but all I will reveal is that it is about love and war and maybe sibling jealousy and betrayal.

In our chat both PJ and I regretted the passing of the inimitable Eddie Stack from Ennistymon and San Francisco only days earlier. Many of you have read works by Eddie or maybe attended his Celtic studies courses in San Francisco.

A brilliant entertainer and mimic as well, a charismatic across the scale, his passing before his due time from the usual bloody killer has numbed his native county and the wider region. PJ and I toasted his memory and his legacy. He was a good one.

I'm back home late in the evening and catching up on the printed news in The Irish Examiner. As is my wont I skip the front page with all its Brexit fallout and stories about Enda Kenny's leadership coming under threat, and I look for zany pieces within and I find a beauty on Page 3 written by (and I salute him) one Darragh McDonagh.

The bold Darragh used our Freedom of Information Act to learn -- incredibly again -- that last year Galway University, through its science and engineering departments, spent a whopping €112,710 to purchase 1,977 rats, no less than €42,336 to buy 871 mice; 52 frogs for €3225 and, after the poor animals had died in experiments of one kind or another, the university paid over €4,000 to have them removed as waste. The mind boggles.

I think I will cease writing altogether and go into business as a rat breeder. There's a guaranteed return there. Thank you Darragh McDonagh!

"I am still often astounded at the lateral fashion in which good stories come flying out of strange places."Caty Bartholomew