Irish Family Fortunes

Today, we met our first Pilgrim walking with a donkey. This young Swiss lad had walked to Santiago, with his donkey, all the way from Basle and was now walking back home! It was going to take him over a year to do this. Not long afterwards we met another Pilgrim walking with equine company. He was a Spanish guy who was walking with his ”family” – a Shetland Pony named ”Pearlita” and a parrot named ”China“. The parrot was travelling in a cage on the donkey’s back. On one of the photos you can also see a brolly sticking out of one of the donkey’s packs. There is no shortage of characters out here on The Camino.

I saw the Japanese contortionist again today; she’s still blanking me.


                   Pearlita and China

Doctor Dan – I think I’ve got some sort of Dutch Elm Family Tree disease. After talking to grandpa Anthony on Tuesday about compiling the O’Connell ancestry report, I came away with about a dozen names and many useful detecting clues. By Wednesday evening, I had 101 names in the O’C tree. Then the fun(gus) spread. When I did a head count on Thursday night, I had 430 directly related descendants of Anthony’s granddad in the O’Connell tree (or is it a forest?). They’re turning up everywhere. New York, Brisbane, Belfast, London and even in Accrington!!

The best part is that two descendants living in the Bronx married into the Italian Capone family. We always knew that Con was a musical gangsta, but now some more research is needed to locate his relationship to dear old Uncle Al, the infamous tax-dodger.

Saw your cousin Dick in the PO, and he sends his regards. I told him all about your encounter with the donkey with the brolly. He says that we have enough donkeys in the parish. Very true. There’s two in the field just by our place – or is he referring to Hughie and Maurice? Anyway, he says that he would be in touch but he’s not so good with computers. This is worrying. Dick’s day-job is dishing out Euros as a clerk in the South Sligo Credit Union, using a COMPUTER. Perhaps this is why some of our more prudent parish OAP’s still invest their savings at the Credit Union and never seem to run out of credit. An Irish Bank cannot claim back over-payments. There is no economic crisis around these parts – so long as you’ve got the price of a pint.

Big traffic incident in the village. Was it not on the Reuters feed? I was dawdling down the hill through the village in my people-carrier (or van, as the locals call it) when old Touch-up Tommy pulled out of his hiding spot down the side of Quinns on his old New Holland. I had the right of way. Main road. Thirty cars a day. Tommy just steamed out, straight in front of me. No head turn – another stroke victim. I slammed on, having been doing 20mph. So did Tommy doing even less. Major catastrophe averted. He owes me a Guinness.

Let’s not talk about cross-Channel soccer this Saturday. The slump and Embarrassment of Ewood continues.

Best laugh of the weekend has been provided by the fact that the TV quiz show which is the antithesis of University Challenge now has its own Irish version. Yes – I’m talking about Family Fortunes – and over here it’s presented by Mincing Alan from gaytime TV, who soon looked like he wished he’d never accepted the contract.

I am sure that the producers rigged this first showing by asking some questions which were bound to draw cringe-worthy answers. The first question was “name a part of the body which has three letters”. Easy one to start us off. There’s the main limbs and a few facial features, and The Meehans from Limerick did manage “arm” and got control of the board. As we eagerly waited for the bravest contestants to mutter “bum” and “tit”, we were alarmed to hear the second Meehan’s proud answer. “Knee” she said.

Next intellectual question was, “name something you can smell but can’t see”. The Meehans dove in again with “perfume”. Nice one. They also managed “gas”, and we started to titter and cringe …. but the Meehans could go no further. So it was over to the Mahers from Dublin to STEAL….

“What can you smell but not see?” asks mincin’ Alan again. Old Jimmy Maher had no problem. “Yer fart”, he says. Then up the line we went. Fart – a fart – a fart, they all say. Alan gives the Maher captain the choice, “You can have a fart or give us a different smell”. “No, Alan, I’ll have to have a fart.”
“Okay, let’s see if your fart is up there”. Bingo. Second most popular answer. “And your fart has won you a bonus prize – a four star hotel weekend break in Sligo town”. I just wish Alan had thrown in “complete with colonic irrigation spa treatment”.

The Mahers didn’t make it to the Big Money finale, but Alan waved them off saying that he loved their farts. The Friday night debut show was so good they repeated on Saturday evening at prime time, up against Premier League soccer on RTE. It was no contest.

Gearoid, yet again you’ve got us in stitches – which is what some of my fellow walkers will soon need if the foot blisters don’t heal. 


          My Left Foot


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