Sheep Fancying

Compared to the chill of the Galician mountains, the west of Ireland has been unseasonably warm and dry. About time too – and perfect for the weekend Festival festivities.
I bet you are dying to know what happened on Sat & Sun [wot d’ya mean, no?], and I wish I could tell you. It wasn’t just the Friday night introduction of Blur, it was the onset of exhaustion which put me out of action for a while. I just couldn’t raise myself from the couch on Saturday evening, especially after Blackburn Rovers conceded yet another late equaliser.

Apparently you cannot play “live” music for 24 hours non-stop during a weekend festival. There has to be a minimum one hour’s break, for some daft reason. So Friday officially ended at 6am – and Saturday’s session started at 7am. Considering that Tony Marren led the opening musical ensemble at 10pm on Friday night, we must congratulate him that he also closed the Day 1 show only a few minutes past six o’clock the following morning. Then the musicians had a drink.

I was informed that Saturday saw a conveyor-belt load of renowned Irish trad music stars for the unplugged section of the festival. The tin whistles started dead on 7am, and rarely stopped during the next 24 hours. In fact, I’m told that some fiddling went on beyond the 6am Sunday morning curfew. It was gone seven o’clock when the last diddly-dee-er passed out. Hughie told me that he was very annoyed when he went down to the village on his tractor, a little earlier than normal, for his pre-Mass Sunday morning pint, only to find the Cock locked up. He said he could see about a dozen prostrate bodies through the frosted glass of the main bar-room window – but they were well out of it. No-one answered his desperate calls to “open the shop”. He told me that it was nearly “chihuahuas!” before the first corpse returned to life. Lazarus gave him a pint of Guinness, and then went back to sleep on the bar top.

I had stopped in, recovering in front of the TV on Saturday evening. Good decision. A respectable Sligo family were on Family Fortunes up against some Dublin gangsters. Mincin’ Alan’s first tough question: “Name something you’d find in a newsagents?” The Sligo captain jumped straight in with “newspapers”, and control of the board. Up Sligeach! Next Sligo family member says, “Fruit and veg.” UH-OH!! It’s not on the board. Now – that’s not as stupid as it sounds. Every rural newsagents in Sligo sells fruit and veg. Our Tom in Killybacside sells tractor parts alongside the Irish Times … and local fruit and veg … and ear muffs. All the typical things you might need to get through the day.
The Sligo crowd were in the lead until Alan the Mincer threw in his usual cringe-worthy question: “Name something you sit on?” Our county representatives came up with chair, couch, stool, etc – but then got stuck. Over to the Dubs, who all delighted in taking their turn saying “Yer arse, yer arse, yer arse – Alan”. The Sligo churchgoers were flummoxed.
Alan says, “Let’s see if yer arse is on the board. Yes! It’s there – on the bottom.” Is this show scripted?

Fell asleep. Woke up bright and early Sunday, raring to go. Heard that some attractive black faced mountain breeds were descending into the valley. Old Uncle John wanted to see these too – but he thought they were going to be grown-up African babies. Some said that the beauty pageant was fixed. Young Odhran O’Connell’s fleecy ram swept the board, winning some Worm Drench and a bag of nuts. Fingers were pointed at part-time farmer and local cab-driver, Paki Durkin – the chief judge. Was he got at, or just distracted? I reckon that our constant mobile phone calls to Paki from the bar, shouting “Where’s me taxi?” in an assortment of accents, as he felt up the sheep in the car park just didn’t help.
And then Con got his flute out …. and off we went again. Yee-hah.
Rollin’ in the hay, a-rollin’ in the hay …”


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