Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


The Roundabout

raymond norris

(Image © Raymond Norris)

A couple of days ago I was off to collect Ruby from school. Nothing unusual in that, we’ve been doing it in one form or other for nearly 15 years now and I love doing it. It’s just a short drive from our house, ten minutes or so, around the roundabout, along Dan Spring Road, around the second roundabout and up to her school. Every time I go around the first roundabout I say, to myself, ‘there’s the first roundabout in Ireland to have a fountain on it’ and smile at the odd facts I store in my head and what prompts me to remember them.

Each time I say such a fact I picture myself on the final of ‘Mastermind’ or in the chair at ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ and the seemingly impossible to answer question is asked:

“For a million euros Mr Verling can you tell me where is the first roundabout in Ireland to have a fountain as its centrepiece?”

People all over the country will gasp at the difficulty of the question: “He’ll never get that,” they’ll say or “how’s anyone supposed to know that?”

I’ll look at the camera and say:

“At the junction of the Ballyard Road, Dan Spring Road, Princes Street and the Dingle Road in Tralee.”

The gasps will ring out and the money will be mine.

Anyway, last Thursday I was driving around the roundabout, the fountain isn’t on at the moment, when I saw a man walking along the footpath to my left, coming out from the town side, just where Princes Street meets the junction. The man looked familiar but I couldn’t place him. He had a black jacket on, a receding hairline which was catching up on his grey, short-cut hair and a well-kept beard. He looked deep in thought, almost as if he was solving a complex problem in his head or maybe something was bothering him. I was trying to concentrate on the busy traffic, while keeping an eye on this man I knew from somewhere.

“Where do I know that man from?” I asked myself as an old lady racer sped out from the left lane, just far enough ahead of me not to cause me to brake. I did slow though and I had a closer look at the man.

Sure enough I knew him and it was actually the deep-in-thought look that gave it away in the end. He wasn’t wearing his glasses, as he usually does when I meet him and normally he’s either driving or in our front room, marvelling at the softness of the rug Lisa bought last summer. That was the thing too, he was walking, not driving. This man loves to drive and there isn’t much he doesn’t know about the workings of an engine. He’s also a man who is always thinking, always working something out in his head and if he has a question for you it’s usually a good one. A parent of one of Ruby’s best friends, he’s a regular in our home and always has a smile on his face. His soft northern accent draws you in but his full attention to anything you say is a lovely attribute too.

It was seeing him out of the car that threw me. Seeing him walking along the road, out of context, had me confused. He was deep in thought, now he may only have been wondering what’s for dinner, but the expression was there and that flipped the switch of recognition in my head. I couldn’t stop and say hello or even beep, as it would have disturbed the peaceful flow of traffic on the roundabout, but I did wave, not that he would have seen me at that distance.

I said it to Ruby a bit later, when we were coming back home via the roundabout, that I’d seen him walking there earlier but didn’t recognise him as he was out of the car.

“What was he doing there? Walking? He’s always driving,” she laughed.

“I know,” I answered, “strange world, isn’t it?”

Now every time I’ll go around the roundabout I’ll think of our friend, as well as the millions I’ll win some day.




Posted by John Verling

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