I just spent a wonderful week in the town of Adare in Limerick at a work conference just before Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and a phalanx of golf bags landed for JP McManus’s Pro-Am.
I only just dodged it, lads. A few more days and I could have been wedged against a bar counter surrounded by whiskey-swilling hedge fund managers with white teeth shouting ‘get in the hole!’ It was a very close call.
Despite the head-melting lines of traffic that run through the town every minute of the day, Adare is actually an extremely pleasant little place to spend time. Twee cottages, great food, friendly locals … even the weather played ball for most of the week. We had colleagues in from Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Germany and we almost found ourselves apologising for the sunshine. ‘It’s not normally like this,’ we whimpered.
But all that changed on the last day of the week when a bank of Limerick rain came in off the Atlantic, descending on the town with all the weight and dreariness of a long passage from Angela’s Ashes.
There goes the summer, I thought to myself. Now, you West Cork folks might think yourselves experts in all forms of precipitation, but let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, Limerick rain is a different proposition altogether.
Limerick rain attacks in waves from all flanks. Downwards. Sideways. Sometimes upwards from the centre of the Earth. It sweeps across your face like the hand of a Christian Brother, seeps into your clothes and drains down your neck where it can sit in pools in your armpits for generations.
It’s less a meteorological event and more a form of liquid intelligence – kinda like The Borg from Star Trek. And believe me, resistance is futile.
Limerick rain comes up the Shannon Estuary and can sit on the city for years, like some unwelcome long-lost auntie. Spend long enough sploshing around the roundabouts of Castletroy and the rainwater will surely start to leak into your consciousness. It’s insidious in its infiltration, like Kilkenny hurling, or the music of Nathan Carter. It’s a wonder the citizens of Limerick haven’t grown gills to cope with the deluge.
Very Murray Limerick
WHILE I was in Adare, there were reports that American actor Bill Murray was in the county, so I had my head arched sideways all week to see if I could spot my favourite Ghostbuster. Of course, Bill is also well known for his quirky, deadpan and meme-friendly public appearances.
And if social media was anything to go by, he was all over Limerick, taking selfies with starstruck youngsters or walking into Charlie Malone’s Bar on Wolfe Tone Street in the city to join a truly rambunctious version of The Star of the County Down with some local musicians. What a legend.
Bill’s grandfather on his father’s side was from Co Cork, apparently, while his mother’s people were from Co Galway, so there was little surprise when he also ended up in Thurles for a day of hurling quarter finals. Twitter nearly melted at the idea of someone like Bill Murray attending a GAA match. Two seemingly incongruous worlds colliding, like seeing Eddie Murphy at the ploughing championships or Lady Gaga serving mass.
Unfortunately, I never got a chance to take a selfie with Bill.
It was great to be able to celebrate a quirkier aspect of Irish America for a change, which comes in stark contrast to the awful news coming in from the Supreme Court last week. Their horrendous retrograde ruling on Roe v Wade was a stark reminder there are some Irish Americans we can be far less proud of.
A great blast at the Glast’
LATELY, it seems, there is nothing but bad news coming from across the water– and I mean the Irish Sea this time. With Liz Truss and BJ playing politics with the peace process and the Tories now even proposing to send refugees to Rwanda, it would be easy to conflate the awful ruling classes over there with the good people of the country. We in West Cork know very well the good nature at the heart of our neighbours – there are enough English people living among us. And so Glastonbury arrived at just the right moment to remind us of how cool our near neighbours really are, and this year seemed like a more joyous celebration of togetherness than ever, a gentle reminder that there is a progressive, poetic character at the heart of England. Paul McCartney’s amazing headliner set was a testament to all that, showing not only that life now begins at 80, but that there is still so much for us all to fight for together. McCartney finished with Hey Jude, one of the greatest songs ever written that literally takes a sad moment and ‘makes it better’. We can only hope that the politicians on these islands can be moved by some of the same wisdom.