Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Saturday Morning In Tralee With Runaround Sue


We are on our morning walk. Setting off from home, we cut across Castle Demesne and through the pike gate, passing by what I guess is the ruins of a castle. Once up the few well-worn steps we are in the park proper and Daisy is in her element. This is her park and any dog we meet usually gets an earful, regardless of size.

Going along the path we walk straight into the Park Run. This Saturday morning 5K run starts at 9am each week and it is the same in town parks throughout the world. A simple online, once-off registration and fee of €5.00, allows you to turn-up each week, run the marked route and a scan of your tag gives you a weekly reading of your times. A simple idea that is very popular. So much so that when Daisy and I get to the top of the steps a herd of people are coming around the corner ahead. This is not what Daisy is used to and she takes refuge behind me, before we move onto the grass to make way for the runners.

All the way around the park we are walking against the flow. People of all ages, sizes, shapes, height, colour and creed are out this morning. To me the run is a perfect example of the mix of people now living in Ireland. The usual off-pink skin is not the only one on display and at least one of the runners is not of the traditional catholic creed. I have seen the man, now coming at a good pace towards me, many times around town looking very elegant in his white Salwar Kameez, probably on his way to or from prayers. He smiles a hello as we pass. There are long haired lovers from who knows where and other fans in their red Chevrolet shirts, who think their time has come again. I say hello to a fellow footballer from my Monday night five-asides who is encouraging his son and an eminent radio journalist greets me as she powers past. A few mothers are pushing buggies, with smiling babies sitting up front, wondering what the fuss is all about.

In the distance, over by the Rose Garden, encouraging music is blasting from a sound system. Before long I am singing ‘Runaround Sue’ by Racey and it worries me that I not only know the words but I also know the name of the band. A man plods past, breathing as if it may be his last moments on earth but he seems unconcerned and Daisy sniffs at him as he runs along. The long line of runners keeps coming, some walking, some jogging and some powering past. Just before we walk into the Garden of The Senses we pass some of the same people again, beginning their second lap.

Once through the Rose Garden we head away from the finish line and out onto Denny Street. The traffic is quiet and we cross the road into Pearse Park. Is there a town in Ireland that hasn’t got at least one public area not called after a 1916 rebel? Probably not. As we walk past the bust of Pearse I realize that Daisy hasn’t had a bark at another dog since we left home. Highly unusual but at the end of the path I see a man putting a pug on a leash. Maybe there is time left yet. The man in a red hoodie is bending down with his back to us. As we walk up Daisy leaves out a bark, just as the pug does the same. The man jumps, swears and turns around. The two dogs keep barking and I drag Daisy away before the incident escalates.

“Sorry about that,” the man says before I do. Nothing like getting your apologies in first.

“My fault,” I say, dragging Daisy out the gate.

Maybe this is the Ireland the 1916 rebels imagined. People of all races running around the park and barking dogs the only threat to the peace. Possibly, but ‘Runaround Sue’ is the only tune I’m walking to this morning and trying to get into the mind of the man on the plinth behind will have to wait.



Posted by John Verling

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