On this mad May day in Clare with the Shannon sparkling down the road, there is the clear possibility that I am about to make one of you very happy indeed, and able to fulfill a lifetime dream, just because there was something about the wristy flamboyant way the man was swinging a pick in the garden next door that caught my eye the other afternoon.
There is no ready explanation for my immediate reaction except that maybe there are nuances of the ancient clansman blood bonds that are not yet fully researched.
It was a bright hot afternoon to be swinging a pick under the sun so, even though I'd never laid eyes on the worker before, I took a cold can of beer out of the fridge and wandered across the garden to invite him to wet his whistle. He was delighted to accept and take a break.
He was an interesting looking hippie type of a lad that you'd know had lived a bit in his time, probably in his late thirties I'd say, no mere country boy this one at all and, dammit, when we exchanged names about two-thirds of the way down the can of beer didn't we discover that we were clansmen. And I was delighted to discover also that he is every bit as cracked and maverick as all the rest of us.
His name is Glen-Lee McConnell and he is of the deep southern sect of our small crazy clan. We felt that special comfort that clansmen feel inside five minutes.
We are indeed, ye know, a small clan, especially thin on the ground outside Ulster, and Glen-Lee was truthfully the first clansman previously unknown to me that I've encountered in nearly 20 years in the Banner county. So we had great craic.
It was a pity the Dutch Nation was away at work because Glen-Lee, amongst many life adventures in his hippie youth all over Europe and beyond, once worked and lived for a couple of years in the Netherlands and is quite fluent in Dutch as well as in typical McConnell nonsense.
We'd met because he was obliging a neighbor lady by using his pick on a rocky corner of her garden. He is, however, a better spinner of yarns than I am, a real storyteller, but his prime profession is that of master carpenter and, when I quietly queried elsewhere later, he is something of a genius with wood.
Sure all of our clan have strange qualities of one class or another, though I never before met one even able
to hammer home a straight nail. It is as much as I can do to change an electric light bulb.
Anyway, I am slowly getting to the point of interest for some of you over there who might be coming over to Ireland on vacation later this year. You see, the Glen told me, that he had just completed building a genuine 1920s style horse-drawn gypsy caravan of the type used by our traveling people up until the end of the fifties (some of you will remember the pure beauty of them as they trundled the roads of your childhood).
He invited me up to view it at his home up at the top of Killaloe town and, frankly, because he is a McConnell I would not have been surprised at all if he was pulling my leg and there was no caravan at all, just a tall tale.
But dammit I viewed it a couple of hours ago and, pristine and hand-crafted and with its graceful green canvas back and belly, it nearly brought tears to my eyes.
I sat up on the dicky where the driver sits behind the horse on the long roads of the travelers of the past and it was a nostalgic feeling. It is for sale for somebody who wants to have a different slower kind of pastoral holiday.
Glen-Lee is my kinsman and so, as blood bonds dictate, I am delighted to pass on the possibility of owning it to all or any of you. It is brand new of course, nobody has ever slept under its curved canvas ceiling, but it can and will accommodate a family of two adults and two or three children in unique comfort, and nowadays, there are very few of the old-style horse caravans left. You do not see them any more at all.
The witty Glen says that he can assist any purchaser in acquiring a suitable horse for putting between the shafts and after that you can be on the roads around lovely Lough Derg before you know it.
My newfound kinsman has promised me two pints of porter in Willie Walsh's noble pub as commission if he achieves a sale soon, so it is with the greatest of pleasure I pass on his contact cell phone number which (with whatever prefix you need from where you are calling) is locally 085-8266687. His home is on the School Road, Killaloe, County Clare, if you prefer to use snail mail. He does not have a email address.
If you do chance to make contact, any of you, mention my name at once so I can claim my frothy commission in Walsh's warmhearted pub as soon as possible!