Well, honestly to God, I’ve been across the country this week. The first stop was Fermanagh, a county so bathed in beautiful lake water that you need a boat, not a car, to get through. It’s very pretty.
I have some friends in Enniskillen who tell me that the three patrons of Enniskillen are Nathan Carter, Father Brian D’Arcy and Lord Brookeborough.
Well, whatever with the guests, you don’t want to die for a latte along the way. No cafe in sight for two hours. I drove through a place called Kesh past the old RUC station. The whole city had Union Jacks and Red Hand of Ulster flags everywhere.
I wanted a quick swim in Lough Erne – this was my first time – so I picked a place on the map called Muckross Bay. Except for a few swans, there wasn’t a single sinner around, so I cautiously dove into the dark, muddy water and immediately missed the salty sea water. It’s just not the same as swimming in a lake.
On the way to my hotel I got seriously lost on the back roads and suddenly found myself surrounded by about 12 tough looking teenagers coming out of a trailer park. One kicked the side of the car. Not a great experience I’m afraid.
After about 15 minutes in circles, I hit an elderly man in the village of Lack.
When I mentioned the beautiful scenery, he sighed. “I had a dog like you once,” he says. “I had to shoot it. Too kind.” Well, after that delightful bombshell, I had just enough strength to keep going while my day wore on unhappily.
The hotel wasn’t that great to be honest. Dated and musty. The staff were tactful, mechanically polite, if you get my meaning. The hotel turned out to be what I would call a “stiff” little spot.
Put it that way, you’d know you’re up north. You can feel it. And they can feel you. There would be a lot of editing.
That’s what my hero said, the late Johnny McKeagney was from Tempo, Fermanagh. It was he who wrote and sketched In the Ould Ago – Illustrated Irish Folklore, a masterpiece of a book. So don’t tell me I don’t like everything about this county.
Before dinner I made my way to meet my friend “Long Distance” Boysie at Blakes of the Hollow in Enniskillen, a beautiful Victorian pub that has been serving Enniskillen drinkers for no less than 135 years.
I always say Boysie is the only man who struck oil at Fermanagh. Didn’t he hit a gas pump on the way to Irvingstown? Jesus, Phil, Fermanagh is always so grim, I say.
“Oh Biddy, the blood has dried on the streets but Fermanagh is still in a political vacuum,” he says.
“Enniskillen is a good business town, mostly loyal, they’re friendly when they make money,” he laughs. “But generally, those outside of it wouldn’t be too welcoming of you southerners. Locals in Kesh erected a barricade over the lake shore parking lots to prevent southern registration cars from staying too long.”
I thought all that shit was gone. Not at all.
Krishna refuses all food except nonviolent vegetables
On Sunday morning I set out for Upper Lough Erne. You wouldn’t believe that. Guess what I saw? A bright yellow ferry with “Hare Krishna” written on it. Now where would you get that from? I thought I’d lose it. As I turned a corner at a place called Geaglum Quay, a group of Hare Krishnas with shaved heads and saffron robes and some tourists were queuing in front of the boat. I struck up a conversation with a guy who was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. He was a devotee from Los Angeles.
“Oh yes, I think the monks have been living on Inis Rath since the 1980s,” he says. how is the pit I say. “All vegetarian,” he says. “Krishna refuses all food except nonviolent vegetables.”
Well, this is a new one for me, a non-violent vegetable?
“Does a potato cry when it’s taken out of the ground like a calf when it’s taken from its mother?” he says in ‘Hare’ jargon.
Well, I’ve never met a bad-tempered carrot, I say. To be fair, they all looked so happy and excited compared to the grumpy specimens I’d met that I was almost tempted to hop on the ferry and take off to paradise with them. This has been the best option so far.
My feelings about Fermanagh? I’m glad other people took it.
Well, on Friday, Dalkey buzzed. I mean the place was bouncy. After a three-year hiatus, the Lobster Festival extravaganza was in full swing. I sat like a budgie in the window of Thyme Out and watched the characters come out of their mansions and castles.
I spotted the “Dalkey Dangler” in the Grapevine order boxes of Delamotte champagne, his claws looking like butter crab and God knows what sharpened. Even the geranium thief stuffed her face with lobster rolls from Robert’s fish store. Tis definitely my favorite weekend of the year.
Then who do I see sprinting through the crowd with no shirt on and looking torn? It was the heartbroken Russian, his chest tanned and shiny from jogging. He has been missing from action lately. I ran out the door and stuck my toe out to stop him.
“Biddy, you almost tripped me,” he says.
You look great, I say. Like a movie star.
“Collagen coffee,” he says, and takes a breath. “All movie stars drink it.”
What’s that moving in your backpack? “There, there. lobster of course. I’m going to make it for a friend with Russian salad and vodka mayonnaise.”
Jesus, you have become mercilessly noble, I say. Ah, I say, you’re IN LOVE.
“I have a problem,” he says. Of course he doesn’t always do that. “Remember you asked me to make you a box-shaped grater for the cottage?”
Yes, I say. I’m still waiting. “Just so you know. I think my girlfriend is tired of me talking about you. I think she thinks we’re together.”
Didn’t you tell her about my boy in Milan? Well, my dear readers, I bet that got you hooked. It’s true, it’s true, but it’s early days so I won’t spoil much. Fifth Amendment. Whist. zipped Like me, you just have to see how everything develops.
With that, the Russian raced to his lover, lobsters wobbling in his backpack. Musha, curiosity about his new girl is killing me, but not half as much as my boy in Milan needs to kill you.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/brighid-mclaughlins-diary-did-you-not-hear-about-my-new-lad-in-milan-its-early-days-41938639.html Brighid McLaughlin’s Journal: Haven’t you heard from my new boy in Milan? It is still early….