"Dingle Bound Epiphany June 1990"
“Dingle. An Epiphany - June 199o.”
A drunken punt on Slippy Blue,
Winner of the Greyhound Derby
At seventeen to two
Meant I was rich – temporarily.
So I set off on a random journey.
Head for the airport maybe,
Take the first flight anywhere.
A "Holiday in Ireland," poster
On the railway station wall
Appealed to me.
I bought a coach ride to Tralee,
The stretch, from Dublin to Kerry passed
In a manner best described 'hazy'.
I blame the Guinness I drunk on the ferry.
Strangers, new friends,
Dissolved from the coach.
Melting into alleyways
Of unremarkable villages
Promising to keep in touch,
But never would.
Each parting is a little death.
A warm up for the bigger deal.
We hug goodbyes, offering,
"Call in any time you’re passing.”
Empty words to ease the ache of separating.
Sitting in a Tralee café,
Drinking sour tea from a dusty cup,
A placard announced the Dingle Fleadh –
“Grand Craic - And Not That Far From Where You Are.”
I thumbed a lift with a sheep farmer.
He stopped at a fork to drop me off.
“Dingle's that way. Sláinte.”
I was still hung over,
Retching behind a dry stone wall
Regretting rancid tea
And Guinness excess on the ferry.
A passing goat gobbled a sandal.
I whacked at the bastid with the other till
Off it shot, with its mouthful of leather.
I looked West where the sun
Should have been setting.
Instead the sky had turned
An effulgent golden bluish.
The deep Kerry silence was short lived
From behind a back-lit
Thicket of thorns,
With ‘Charlton Heston’ thunder,
A sinaitic voice intoned,
"YOU WILL NEVER KNOW TRUE HAPPINESS IN THIS LIFE."
A bald fact baldly stated.
Take it or leave it - no debate.
Like Moses struck that desert rock,
Setting off a gushing flow,
That, “You will never know...”
Was a smashing blow.
My rock hard heart split open
Tears flushed from me
Not misty eyed snivelling -
But stomach churning
Visceral shuddering sobs
Erupting from a dormant
Internal artesian well.
Cars slowing to offer lifts
Sped away at the sight of me.
No one wanted a crazy,
Dripping, shoeless, hippy
Soiling their shiny vinyl
Leather look upholstery.
I climbed aboard a rattling bus,
Crammed with catholic mothers
These crossed themselves and
To avoid the gaze of the
Wild eyed guy stumbling the aisle
Stared fixedly through dirty windows
Fascinated by the all too familiar view.
The only space was at the back
Beside a seat half eaten by
A ruminating tethered goat that
Cast a weather eye over my feet
Then carried on consuming
The remains of the seat
He had been gnawing.
Dingle was packed for the fleadh.
I squirmed into Feeney’s Bar.
The place was rammed.
Standing room only
Except where I sat
Steeped in misery.
Nobody joined me.
Cain’s mark set me apart.
The call went out for a
Volunteer floor singer
While the band took a break
For a pee and a pint.
I cannot explain the whys and hows,
But I found myself on my feet, compelled to sing
By some burning bubbling up within me.
The bar filled with a ‘Presence’
As I sang - ‘sean nos’ –
In a tongue unknown to me -
A song that quieted the crowd
With its lilting melancholy.
One or two hummed along with me.
I was uplifted beyond ecstasy.
Flooded with unspeakable joy –
Years later I wallow in the memory.
Owing to Guinness flowing freely.
Laughter too with new best buddies
The song faded – I wish I could recover it.
I know I’ll sing it again some day
Not in this lifetime perhaps.
The night passed as a dream and
The next and the next after that.
Homesickness and dwindling cash
Caught up with me.
I hailed a taxi to Tralee.
Making the driver stop -
“Just a moment, please.”
At the fork where ‘Heston’ intervened
And pulled my rug of life away.
The driver thought I was a ‘header’
Shouting at a vacant sky
Asking God why
He wanted to spoil my holiday
With that prophecy
“You will never be truly happy…”
Or if He was after marking my card
That life is always going to be hard
And decided to enlighten me
The unknown song from Feeney’s Bar
Tiocfaidh A Samhradh
Tiocfaidh an samhradh
Agus fásfaidh an féar
Tiocfaidh an duilliúr ghlas
Ar bharr na gcraobh
Tiocfaidh mo rúinsearc
Le bánú an lae
Agus buailfidh sí túin suas
Le cumha 'mo dhiaidh
Summer Will Come:
Summer will come
Grass will grow
Green leaves will sprout
On the treetops
My true love will come
At the break of day
And strike up a tune
Out of loneliness for me.