Sitting at the bar in a pub on the edge of Co.Clare I ordered a pint, and took in the décor while the Guinness ‘cooked’. Amongst the photos and memorabilia, on a high shelf behind the bar, I noticed a tin model of a ship. When the drink arrived I asked the landlord about the model.
“It’s the Titanic,” he told me.
Being from the city that built Titanic I thought it odd that this obviously vintage model should hold such a prominent place in a bar in the west of Ireland.
“What’s the connection with the bar?” I asked.
“My Father opened the bar on the day Titanic sank.”
As the bar filled I fell into conversation with a Galway man, who had gained renown playing Gaelic football as a junior. Travel was a shared interest and he, a bricklayer by trade, told of his adventures while working abroad in Europe, the Middle East, and New York. I mentioned my failed career as an employee, sacked on two occasions for bad time keeping. The only time he’d been sacked from a job, he told me, was in New York while working for a contractor on a new build. He had agreed to run the marathon with his girlfriend and come Monday morning his legs didn’t work. So he phoned in to make his excuses and was sacked on the spot.
‘”Had you run a marathon previously?” I asked.
“No, that was a first”
“I suppose you put in a bit of practice before the race then”
“No, to busy working for that”
“Well you’re either fit or insane to undertake a 26.2 mile run on those terms” I bantered.
“Remember” he said,” I played Gaelic as a teenager and have kept pretty active since. It was me working boots that did the damage as I’d nothing else to run in “
In another encounter in the same bar recently my partner and I joined the company of a German couple, he a dishevelled poet and she his ‘mother’. Much glass chinking, prosit, slàinte, and cheers punctuated the good-humoured conversation. A shadow of past history hung on them like a weight as their reference to the Nazi’s seemed a confession needing absolution. Politics is a minefield when there’s drink taken, but with the imminent elections in Germany I was interested in the opinion of two left leaning Bavarians. Again the shadow of shared responsibility for the actions of Angela Merkel, the East German Iron Lady of European politics, crossed the conversation. After several pints of J.Arthur, that was easily resolved with further glass chinking and, since we were in the vicinity, more of the blarney.
“A traditional Public House is a meeting place for the exchange of news and views in company with friends or total strangers while enjoying the drink and the ambience. At the end of the night there is no compulsion to take that public home.” Gearárd O’Murchadha
Banner image: Ragtree. St Bridgets Well ( and St.Pats OK too )