Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


You Never Know What Is Happening Out There

Daisy and I are coming back from our walk. It’s about 8 o’clock on that Friday evening which only comes around once year; the first weekend of back to school week. The kids stay out as long as possible, trying to recapture that feeling of the last three months, when they could stay out late without needing to get up in the morning. School hasn’t yet become a burden and it seems as if life will be carefree forever. When I walk through the arch the kids are running around in the last of the evening light, screaming and having fun, chasing a ball and ignoring time. Finbarr, one of the Dads keeping an eye on the late evening funsters, walks out as I pass:

“I suppose you’re going home to write about your walk?” he asks.

“Not tonight, nothing happened,” I smile in reply.

Nothing never happens though and I think about our walk, replaying it in real time in my head.

Sure it’s quiet going up the hill but the apple tree behind the derelict cottage surrounded, by the old stone wall catches my eye. The tree looks heavy with the unwanted apples and it gets me thinking about what I can do with them. Make jelly? Mix them with the yet unpicked blackberries into a crusty pie? I don’t have long to think about it as Daisy begins barking at another dog, a dog that sounds as if it has emphysema and I think it best to move away.

Going down to the left at the brow of the hill we pass a farm where an elderly lady is parking her car in the yard. Her grey hair is neatly done and the yard is very tidy, opening onto gently sloping fields, bounded below by a band of trees. I say ‘hello’ over the steel gate and she replies with a smile. In the fields to my left six or seven Charolais are on an evening stroll, fine looking animals with a bull strutting along behind, as if he is the farmer. The grass is high and a lovely shade of green, reflecting our wet weather and no doubt helping the cows achieve the weight yield for which they are famous.

Moving on, we crisscross the road a couple of times as there are a couple of blind bends ahead. The road also narrows as it goes through a patch of heavy tree cover, which makes visibility poor at this time of the year. Back on the footpath we pass a line of three women, dressed in regulation walking gear, walking in stride and chatting. Quite often we pass them and though I always say hello, I never get a reply. Tonight it isn’t any different, though one woman does look up when I speak, so I do exist, but still doesn’t answer.

“I always thought that too,” I hear and wonder what that conversation is about but I’ll never know now.

Around the bend the footpath finishes and we cross over to the one that runs along by the mixture of houses with the mature gardens, which looks like a suburban street in any Irish town. Not a soul, man nor beast, do we pass, though a couple of cars slow for the speed bumps outside the estates on the other side of the road. Just by Lidl, a woman passes with two girls, one on a scooter, the other on a bike and I say hello and yet again no reply. Am I invisible? Through the little park we go, and over the bridge that spans the Lee River.

Now I let Daisy go. She likes being able to roam free; she isn’t traffic savvy and at least here we are on a pedestrian walkway. We are separated from the roads by a belt of housing and further along by open spaces before the Rose Hotel. Daisy can run into the bushes, chase her shadow and tonight be scared by a tall plant blowing in the wind. She actually runs back along the path and when I call her she refuses to budge, her eyes pinned on the scary pink flowers that droop like a Triffid by the river’s edge. Her hair is standing up along a line down her back and her wide open eyes say nothing but fear. Eventually I coax her past but she doesn’t get over this easily. All the way along she jumps at every movement, reminding me of when I would do the same as a kid walking home in the dark.

The path winds its way along by the river, bending slightly in line with the course of the flow. Beyond the Rose Hotel is a series of apartment blocks, not any different from those built anywhere during the boom. At least these are occupied and I see people unpacking Friday evening shopping, with the young kids excited by what the parents have bought. A man passes with a dog on a leash, a Newfoundland of some type and Daisy hides behind me before running past as fast as her little legs allow. Now we are on the straight path and a couple of kids are canoodling on a bench. Not the worst place for it but the girl doesn’t look too happy, maybe she was expecting more than a Friday night by the river or maybe the young fellow has just said something stupid.

As soon as the exit appears I put Daisy back on the lead. A few weeks back she ran out in front of a car and was very nearly no more. The young fellow driving got a massive shock as he screeched to a halt inches from her. She froze in the middle of the road, making the drama even worse. Lesson learnt by me but not by Daisy and she is liable to do the same again. Out of the exit and we turn for home, under the arch and back closer to that ale in the fridge.

So nothing did happen but life went past, people went home, Daisy got scared and I got a thousand words.



Posted by John Verling

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