Its over two weeks since I arrived back in the Emerald Isle. So the re-telling of my role as guest in Dublin and host in Doolin since then, may not be entirely accurate. Though a number of notable occasions do stick in my mind. One being Liam’s near fatal incident with an angry/crazy handbag wielding pedestrian. Another being my superb near fatal, near face-plant in the mud. Suprisingly, Antonia passed the few weeks highly unscathed by either mud or handbags, leaving me with very little teasing ammunition. Except for her extreme cow phobia which came to light at every cow encounter in Doolin. Doolin has a lot of cows. Aside from managing to avoid any most unlikely, near fatal cow attack, Tonia also managed to catch a leprechaun in Doolin. Yes, a real live leprechaun. I wonder now if that is the reason for how she remained mud free. And whether its also the reason I didnt…
Let us start from the beginning.
I arrived back in Dublin on a Tuesday night, one night after Tonia and Liam had landed in Ireland. Aside from an outing to the supermarket down the road, I dont think they’d ventured far out of Liam’s brother’s house at all, still recovering from the trip. So next day Tonia and I went to town, and I taught my sister all the important things about living in Ireland just like a big sister should: How to buy a ticket on the bus, how to find the street names, how to buy a plastic bag at the supermarket and (due to the rain and our inherited above-average eye level), how to avoid serious eye injury by umbrella. Liam learnt an important lesson of his own – how to buy half a dozen beer when beer comes in lots of four.
The next day I think was the day we watched the ‘From Justin to Kelly’ movie – as in Kelly Clarkson and Justin Whatshisname from American Idol singing, dancing, reading scripts- a brilliant piece of crap cinema.
One day we went into town, using our newly learnt bus catching skills, and after crossing a road and reaching the curb, Liam comes face to face with a woman with a handbag. For some reason she decided she didnt like the look of him and took a violent swing at him with said handbag – I think I heard her snarl. What it was in Liam that caused such a violent reaction in such an unlikely assailant we will never know, but after that shaky experience, whenever we approached a woman with a handbag, Liam would cower behind me. Tonia said hes been having nightmares about giant handbags too.
The last night in Dublin, Tonia and I went out to dinner at Govinda’s (?), a vegetarian harekrishna (?) run place with good food – and heaps of it. Liam didnt come as it was a Friday night which he reasoned meant a larger number of woman out with their handbags.
Saturday I made the bus trip back to Dublin, Tonia and Liam having decided to follow in a few days time. And follow they did, arriving on Monday night just as I finished my working day. We spent most of our week playing cards, as Doolin was swamped by typical WestCoast of Ireland weather, visiting Jack the donkey and his new friend Little Jack the donkey, and telling each other that yes, tomorrow we would go to the cliffs.
It might have been Tuesday or Wednesday I learnt of Tonia’s cow phobia – but Im not sure as time doesnt exist here in Doolin, until you need to catch a bus somewhere. On which ever day it was we donned our jackets and woolly hats and went for a walk down a local road to the coast, stopping to visit the local dead in the old ruin of a church on the way. When we got to the coast, the sea was impressively wild, the waves smashing up against the rocks, foam blowing in our faces on the equally wild wind. The total opposite of this. (I like that photo and had to fit it in somewhere).
Eventually though, after an hour or so of walking, we had to leave the coast and walk back up the road towards the hostel – but first we had to cross a field. A field with COWS. I thought I was scared of cows, but the difference in my case is that I can reason that cows do not generally attack and eat humans and will walk through a field of them if need be. At first sight of a cow, Tonia started panicking ‘ Its looking at me! Its looking at me!’ And by the time we reached the barb wired gate, she was in a frenzy, flying over the gate like a herd of cows was indeed chasing her. Which there wasnt. If a herd of cows were to attack anyone it would me, as the other two ran off, leaving me at the mercy of the bemused bovine mob. We got Tonia back to the hostel free of cow bites and calmed her jitters with lashings of free tea. Liam tells me she still has nightmares about giant cows.
Our next major excursion was down to MY beach which isnt really MY beach anymore as I havent been there for ages – long enough for someone else to lay claim to it. Actually, this was the second attempt to visit the beach, our first the day prior abandoned when we found we lacked the skills to ford a river. When we finally did get there, we were very happy,
and I was suprised to find my sculptures still relatively intact considering the wind thats been tearing up and down the coast. Tattered but still standing they were.
It was, I believe, on this particular outing that Antonia caught her leprechaun. Now if someone had told me she had found a leprechaun I would not have believed them, not being one who believes in such nonsense. BUT I believe this because I have photographic proof. As I was walking up the beach, I noticed Tonia had wandered off on her own for an unusually long time, so being the caring sister I am I snuck up behind her to find out what she was doing. And it is at this moment that I catch sight of her little friend. I could barely believe my eyes. But yes, see for yourselves, there she is, with him tightly in her grasp, preventing any escape. I could at this moment have confronted her but, knowing a thing or two about leprechauns (though not believing in them of course) I thought it best not to envoke Tonias nor the leprechauns wrath. So I kept quiet. Little did I know I would soon find out just how powerful that wrath was. If only I had continued to keep my mouth shut.
Tomorrow we finally did end up going to the cliffs, as we had been saying all along. The wind was still blowing strong yet the rain had cleared, though the track to the cliffs was still in a swampy muddy cow-pooey condition. But we rolled up our trousers and set off up the incline, skirting the mud as best we could.
About half way up the track we spy something most unfortunate ahead. Most unfortunate for Tonia that is. More COWS. Sitting on the track. And the land around the cows was so swampy you’d lose a shoe. We were cornered. We couldnt go round the cows, , couldnt go under the cows, we’d have to go through the cows. Again Tonia starts panicking. And I start helping her panick. ‘That cow’s looking at you Tonia’. And indeed it seemed these hungry looking cows were eyeing up Tonia’s juicy limbs.
So I tease her some more ‘That cow looks really hungry Tonia’ ‘Hes licking his lips’ ‘Look out! He’s behind you!’. But shes ignoring me, lost in her cow insanity. Or is she? Next thing I know I feel the rock beneath me move, actually move by itself and I teeter above the fetid mud, my arms windmilling trying to catch my balance. And just as Im about to recover my balance I feel a little hand on my bum give me the slightest push, just enough, and then Im moving, downward, fast but in slow motion at the same time: ‘Nwooooowooo’ I cry as I near the cesspool beneath me. And then I have mud in my mouth and mud up my nose and mud in my eyes. And I look like Im smiling but Im actually crying inside. Tonia turns around and says ‘Are you okay?’ trying to cover a smile as she takes my photo. We both know what happened. I think she must have stashed him in her backpack.
So we made it to the cliffs and back. I washed my jeans and wiped my face, everyone had a good laugh. And not a word was spoken of the unusual circumstances, the unlikeliness of the event – that I, eversteady Em had fallen. And no mention was made by either Tonia or myself of the little man of mischief – Im not even sure Tonia knew I had found her out. Next day we went to Galway for the night, then Tonia and Liam headed home to Dublin and I headed back to Doolin. And I havent fallen in any mud since.
How she managed to catch the thing I still dont know – maybe we’ll never know. Nor whether she took her little friend back to Dublin with her. But I know one thing: Just in case, Liam better watch himself.