Archive for January, 2009

The Irish Weatherman

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

If you’ve ever contemplated reincarnation (and who hasn’t), meteorology on the Emerald Isle would be a simple gig.  You need master only two words to accurately forecast the weather.

 Moist.

 Damp.

dscn2228.JPGAt a train station in Ballymote, County Sligo, an architecturally interesting and large receptacle for cigarette ends, a.k.a. butts, does not admonish smoking, but does ask patrons to keep the pavement dry. Hmmm. Why ?

Having just returned from Ireland for the third time in 5 years, several observations of note. Partial or full frontal nudity is deemed acceptable as seen in this shop in Sligo Town.dscn2139.JPG

The tenor of this community website has recently degenerated into non-PG rated as exhibited by scantily clad Las Vegas showgirls, plumed with ostrich feathers, invading Circus Circus airstream trailers. Hence, I have no trepidation illustrating mannequin storefront nudity.

 An idyllic country, Ireland beauty abounds everywhere, but this is not a travel trailer paradise.  Caravans, as they are referred to here, are not highly regarded.  The roads are narrow, always winding, often treacherous, few available parking campsites, and petrol near $7 USD/gallon; all sufficient to limit your Steinbeck urge.

 Also a social stigma, the Irish travellers (a.ka. knackers and/or gypsies) affect people’s attitudes toward trailer dwellers, as they camp on public (common) and private lands.  Although permanently established, the Travellers, in the pejorative sense, are unwelcome. They have high unemployment (80%), are nearly uniformly illiterate, have high infant mortality rates, short adult lifespans, and are known for raising dogs and bare knuckle fighters. Few carry KOA, Good Sam, or AARP discount cards.

Describing the Republic of Ireland is similar to evaluating wine; crisp, well-balanced, fairly complex. Full flavored, good structure, it is led by the prime minister, Brian Cowen, a Runyanesque figure, with whom we had the pleasure of a personal audience during our stay. Like W.C. Fields, he possesses an almost cartoon characiture. A truly nice fellow, he grew up in a public house, his family’s saloon. Like all world leaders, he faces considerable difficulty in the global economic turmoil we are all encountering. I’m reminded of the 1957 Kingston Trio lyric, “They’re rioting in Africa, they are starving in Spain, what nature doesn’t do to us, will be done by our fellow man”. Or by the poet, Matthew Arnold, ” and we are here as on a darkling plain, swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies clash by night.”10122008802-3.jpgPictured here L-R, Lynn, the Prime Minister, myself, and Margaret Conlan, prominent member of the parliament representing County Monaghan. He was asking me for advice. Hence, the smiles.

Ireland is a wonderful place to visit. Not limited to the cordiality of the natives, near Drumcliffe on the rugged northwest coast, Lynn coaxes a friendly seagull to land on her finger. dscn1967.JPG

A charming place to be a tourist, but leave your tin can at home.

Pack a raincoat and an umbrella.

About the Author

Retired 1997.
Frequent travel. Loyal companions: wife, Lynn; dog, Jack.
Avocation: writing social and political satire.
Past life: three decade clinical pharmacy owner. Now in recovery.
Location: Northern Indiana, Eastern U.P. of Michigan, Southern Arizona

No telephone;
E-mail cspiher@aol.com