Groggy start to the week, Dan. Up about 4 hours after you. The local festivities are more exhausting than your stroll in the countryside.
We started our Sunday listening to Mass on the radio. We had no choice. Uncle John has it on “level 11″ on the transistor dial in his granny flat. The hymn singers being broadcast from a church in County Waterford were particularly atrocious today. And the Lord be with you too ….
Then we headed into Tubber for the traditional roast dinner slap-up at Murphy’s Hotel. Sustenance (and a lager refresher) was needed. It was going to be a long day. We chatted with Jackie Dougan at the bar; the retired blind barber. Well – he’s not 100% blind, but he wears extra dark glasses like Roy Orbison and gets helped across the main road. This didn’t affect his popular hairdressing trade for the old men of the parish. Most had very little hair to trim, and Jackie just made a noise with the scissors behind their heads. Never needed to sweep up. The old folk only went in for the chatter. Jackie is/was the local correspondent for the Sligo Champion, so he knows all the scandal.
Next a quick visit to Jamesons old folks’ residential home to catch up with a few old-timers who have fallen by the wayside since previous memorable drinkfests. Sadly most were like sedated zombies. That’s why I’d never do hard drugs. You miss all the fun of drinking yourself into a sleepy stupor. The Jamesons residents just go from lucid to dozing, slurring buffoons 30 minutes after the pill trolley comes round. They miss all the best bit in the middle of controlled alcohol-poisoning. We left a horrendously loud TV room showing the build-up to the replayed Hurling Final on “level 11+1″ when all our former bar-room colleagues were asleep. What an atmosphere they created.
A quick jaunt back down the Ballina Road got us safely into Quinn’s Bar in the village, right on time for the big match from Croke Park being shown on large dual flat screens. Our brave Connacht representatives, Galway, sank without trace again – dejavoodoo – but it didn’t stop the partying. The match became The Henry Shefflin Show, yet again. For the uninitiated, he’s arguably Kilkenny’s and Ireland’s greatest-ever hurler. A magician. The rapid scoring and complicated points system in hurling makes for entertaining viewing. At many times during an enthralling first half, lots of the local sheep farmers hadn’t got a clue what the real score was – or even which team was winning. Loud arguments often break out as the better mathematicians demonstrate their adding up skills. Don’t even ask about playing 501 darts in the South Sligo pub league. Numerical take-aways are very troublesome. The Dead Pigeon pub has applied for an extension to its darts scoreboard. There just isn’t enough room for the complicated sums, combined with piss-poor throwing. Getting a treble twenty can be headline news in the Champion’s sports pages.
With all hope lost late on, a Galway defender lashed out with his hurley stick and nearly took the head off Sir Henry, and got red-carded. ‘Black’ Paki O’Hara disagreed with the ref’s correct decision and exclaimed that “you wouldn’t even get thrown out of the night-club in Charlestown for that assault”. Another wag retorted with, “Yeah – but you wouldn’t get served in the kebab shop after if you did it to Fryer Fran from Iran”. The only sober man in the pub, barman Liam Quinn on Lucozade, observed that the Galway thug “couldn’t knock a fart out of a snipe”.
The hurling ended just in time for the first tee-offs in Chicago. After a few more one’s for the road (and complimentary sausages and uncertain bits of chicken), I decided to head for the sanctuary of my own settee. No-one really expected the Miracle of Medinah to unfold over the next five hours. Probably the best live TV sports action ever, especially if you pressed the red button and listened to the US commentators slipping nooses around their necks. My newly-bought week’s supply of lager in my private cooler cabinet is now all but depleted. Might have to volunteer to do the big shop at Tesco’s in Swineford early this week.
The late-night transatlantic celebrations determine that the closing ceremony of the Killybacward Drinking Olympics will have to be postponed for at least 24 hours. Hair of the dogs will be called for this evening, I’m sure (to be sure). No worries though. We are not saddened. Crippled Maurice Mahon has asked if there could be a paraplegic Olympian contest throughout the coming week as we await upcoming diary events. Next weekend it’s the 18th birthday bash for Tullymoy’s only punk-cum-rapper, Crowin’ Eoin – son of Bernie who himself cannot even speak an understandable word of English due to the effects of drinking Guinness like it’s Evian water. Our local celebrity DJ, Harry the Horse-Box, will be at the turntables, most likely in one of his drag queen outfits. Crowin’s Eoin will bang out a few ditties with his new band, The Crowbags – and Bernie has promised to make a speech on the mike. This should be the highlight.
Must go, and do some work. Funds getting low. Enjoy your stroll. Proud of you – but watch your wallet with a lad from Tallaght on your tail.