Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Caught Slogging Down Memory Lane

A atumncolorswoman appears at the sliding door of a nicely designed 1990’s style dormer house. The patio outside is dotted with potted plants and the colours of autumn are in the leaves of the trees around the home. She is in her dressing gown and looks at her husband, no doubt wondering why he is bringing a bearded stranger to her door at this time of the day.

“Do you recognise this man?” he asks, smiling at her.

“No,” she says, though she gives me a lovely welcoming smile regardless, while at the same time scanning my face for any signs of who I may be.

After a minute or so her husband says:

“This is John Verling.”

A spark of recognition from a name she may well have last heard nearly forty years ago has her opening her eyes a bit wider before she scrunches them up again to examine me once more.

“Michael Verling’s son,” I say.

“From Aer Lingus?” she asks.

“That’s me,” I say, “it might be a long time since you last saw me and I was probably no more than this size.” I place my hand on top of an imaginary boy’s head.

I’m looking at her too to see if I can recognise her from the past. I used to visit my father’s office on Patrick Street in Cork and I always got a big welcome from the female staff, no doubt having something to do with losing my mother at such a young age. In truth we probably don’t recognise each other, how could we really, but there is the connection and it is immediate.

Mary brings me inside while her husband goes back to his digging of the potatoes and we spend the rest of the morning talking. We exchange memories and how each of us ended up in Tralee. We talk of the old days in Cork and the years she spent in the office. Funnily enough Mary remembers my father speaking of how good at tennis we kids were at the time. The talk flows over cups of tea and we chat about other mutual Cobh people we know and by the time her husband comes back down a friendship has formed. By now it is gone noon, I left home at 10.30, and it is time to go. I’m invited back up to pick apples whenever I like and to call in for tea too. I leave saying goodbye and shaking my head at the way a morning can develop.

fred-applesLater that day Fred and I come back up and collect two big bags of apples. Freddie likes the fresh ones straight off the trees and stuffs his pockets with them, as well as eating a couple of big ones. I wash and dry the apples back home, while Freddie is still scrunching through his haul. Now that I have enough apples for cider making I will need to get them pressed and tomorrow is Wednesday, pressing morning at the allotments.

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