“He didn’t get the ride,” I hear a gray haired man opposite me say as I sit down in a tea shop on my arrival in a rainy Ennis. For a split second I wonder what kind of kinky den of iniquity I’m after arriving in. (Photos on Facebook here: #1, #2)
“No, he didn’t,” says a voice to my left behind a counter, beyond my view, “he’s a good jockey but he was never going to do well without a good ride.”
“We all need a good ride,” I’m tempted to say, but don’t, as I’ve realised they are talking about a jockey at the Cheltenam races.
Rain is spiraling down out of the sky in big, fat blobs of soak-you-to-the-bone wetness and I feel like just sitting here all day, drinking tea, and why not? There’s no point wandering around streets getting soaked to the bone.
After a time eves-dropping, my tea is gone and I pay for it and venture outside but the rain just gets heavier and so I end up talking about Brexit and such to a couple with a dog.
I comment that a couple inside had a dog with them and, interestingly, I learn that you can now bring dogs into cafés if the owner allows it.
“Sure they’re considered people nowadays,” I say, “according to some posters I’ve been seeing we’re now supposed to recognise animals as ‘someone, not something’”.
“Oh, absolutely,” the woman says, “I 100% agree with that.”
“So you don’t think we need a bit more protein?”, I ask.
“Sure look,” she says, “Gorilla’s are vegan and they’re stronger than us.”
“Yes, but they have different digestive systems and eat 20kgs of vegetation a day,” I say.
“Well, what about cow’s milk then?”, she says and at this point I’m feeling like that kid in The Sixth Sense movie that sees dead people all the time: I SEE VEGANS, ALL THE TIME, THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!
Realising I might as well be trying to convince a city-based-tree to uproot itself and head off to a forest, I’m slightly annoyed with myself for getting into what can only be described as an extraordinarily pointless debate and so I simply conclude that I tried being vegan and felt I’d had a decline in my general health as a consequence.
“Oh yeah, well it’s trendy now, I suppose,” she sneers, and, resisting the urge to point out I was talking about the distant past, head off on my merry way, resolving not to ever talk to anyone about veganism ever again. Resolving, in fact, to not talk to anyone for the rest of the day.
A colourful little town, with a damp feel to it, especially today, there are many medieval-like alleyways and shops that look a bit like they’re stuck in a time warp, which is kind of nice.
Up in the town square on a large pedestal is a statue of Daniel O’Connell who is commemorated because of all the great work he did to try and separate Ireland from the British back in the 19th century.
On Abbey Street are two monuments which commemorate the 1916 rising. One, a sort of lump of rock with a plaque on it, was unveiled in 1966, while the other, called The Centurial Sphere, was unveiled in 2016.
It’s kind of funny, only 100 years ago Irish people were laying their lives down fighting for a republic, free of British rule and nowadays the country is pretty much governed by Brussels and I wonder if they’d have bothered if they’d had a crystal ball, or even a Centurian Sphere, like the one here.
The courthouse is my next stop. Again, there’s another statue, which remembers Eamonn De Valera who was another key figure in the fight for the freedom of Ireland. Taking my camera out and about to click the shutter, I spot a young couple dry humping each other in the corner of the frame to the left of the statue. The male pauses amidst his hormonal romping and I feel momentarily like a bit of a pervert.
“You’re fine,” I say, giving a thumbs up and he doesn’t respond and oddly I get the idea that I’m acting like a director in a porn movie and my face blushes a bit before I recompose myself, thinking “get a room”.
Taking my photo from a different angle, so as to avoid having love’s young dream in it, I mosey on up the road a bit and then it starts lashing again. Freezing, my whole day pretty much consists of walking about for 10 minutes of every hour while spending the other 50 slurping tea looking out at the rain.
Tempted to sip a triple whiskey in one of the local pubs I quickly change my mind when a couple of drunkards, like something from The Walking Dead, stagger out of one and nearly into me, and so I resolve to have my gazillionth cup of tea of the day.
Leaving the pub when it stops raining, I wander along and take a few more snaps of things that I think look moderately interesting and one thing I see, which I see in every single town in Ireland, is 4 abandoned houses in a row on the same street. With all the abandoned houses and business premises in every town in Ireland I find it extremely difficult to understand why there is a housing crisis.
The last picture of the day I try to take is of St Peter and Paul’s Church. Outside are a couple of men collecting for charity and an elderly woman going by asks them, “What pub are ye going to drink that in tonight?”
“We’re not,” one of the men says, with a slightly uncomfortable laugh.
“I’m sure, I’m sure,” she says.
I thought she was being cynical but in the next instant the man looks at me with my camera, taking pictures, and him and his mate walk on up the road, which may or may not have been a coincidence.
The cold setting into my bones I resolve to call it a day and so head to the bus stop.
Next stop Belfast. I need to get there before the powers that be drill the Northern part of the country off and leave it float off into the ocean, à la Brexit on the 29th.