Irish debacle - Bulletin four
Republic of Ireland - The land of Mammon and economic bubbles
It is 60 years since Broontroosers departed the Eirann shore. In those dark post-war years Ireland was a land of poverty and a fair bit of ignorance, the butt of sarcastic humour from the English. Something has happened in the last 61 years! The place is booming. The boom is mainly evident from the prices in Dublin, the size and vulgarity of the super-yachts in marinas such as Malahide and Dun Laoghaire – but particularly the massive outbreak of housing and commercial building. Once upon a time, the rural Irish sat outside their picturesque whitewashed cottages, sucking on foul pipes (the women, that is), and muttering "Aroo, git some taaties from de shed, Seamus".
Now...... All the uncomfortable, damp but picturesque cottages have been knocked down and replaced by grotesque haciendas with porticos and pillars of barley sugar. Dublin resembles a giant building site with forests of cranes and gleaming towers of glass. Where is all the money coming from? God knows, apart from EU gold, which surely can't last – even the EU must see through the massive Celtic Tiger con sometime?
We had a conversation with some Swiss yachties in Malahide marina. "How did they get so rich?" asked the Swiss skipper. "No idea", said Don, "It's a mystery".
The trip so far has taken us almost to the south east corner of Ireland, which we hope to round tomorrow - and then onwards to Cork, Kinsale, Courtmacsherry and the dreaded West.
But we get ahead of ourselves........
Just a short digression into the subject of birthday presents. Don, doubtless muddled by the rigours of pre-departure boozing (I mean training), discovered that he had left his wallet in the car at Ardfern. This sad omission was confirmed by a neighbour on the telephone.
Totty, on her actual birthday, June 5th, received a generous present in the form of a tasteful card, inscribed "This voucher entitles you to purchase a present to any value on your own credit card". Cool!
How to speak Oirish proper
Now to serious matters. Natives of the fine country of Ireland will know that the English, stuck as they are with dull linguistic conventions and rigid concerns for 'correct' grammar, often find themselves at a loss when it comes to communicating with the silvery-tongued disciples of James Joyce. Don, who of course is not hamstrung by English habits, rapidly found himself in animated conversation with all kinds of people and some animals too. Totty and Hamilton, excluded from these amusing and informative encounters, came to him; "Don, will you please help us", they moaned.
It so happened the the enterprising Don had already prepared for this eventuality by purchasing a phial of Paddy McGinty's genuine Irish brogue mouth spray - ("One squort and ye'll be enjoyin' de craic wit all manner of bein's".)
What follows is a genuine transcript of the miracle, captured on video.
"I say, Charlotte old thing, where's that disreputable husband of yours - fast asleep on his bunk in sodden slumber again, no doubt. I must say that his manner of speech has deteriorated markedly since we arrived in this dreadful country - almost degenerated to the level of the natives, don't you know".
Sighs... "I know, he's become simply impossible - how can I possibly explain to people that he was once quite civilised, it's all too, too ghastly."
At this moment Don produces his phial of the magic spray and persuades each to try it in turn.
Hamilton goes first, squirts a small quantity into his mouth. Instantly, he shudders, his eyes roll, and a beatific smile suffuses his normally reserved English countenance.
"Shure an all, oi felt right quare fer a minute or two, so oi did.
Ha, how are you Totty me oul Biddy - sure we'll be out tonoight on a roight feckin' bender, oim in de mood fer to git roight banjaxed on de black stoff, so I am".
"Roight on, me oul spalpeen, oim wit yez all de way, we'll git roight fluthered. Sure an all, we moight invite dat Don along, he's a good man fer the craic, so he is. Moind you, he speaks a bit funny, a bit loike one of dem English, so he does".
A true miracle, and there is a further supply for any unfortunate English readers who wish to free themselves from the shackles of dull convention.
The Quest is as usual supported by an extensive base team. Met. Maestro Bartlett has responded brilliantly to the arrival of the first wine delivery by producing a large area of high pressure, Dr Harold Shipmate stands by with a Sectioning Order ready if needed, and we have a story for our Sanitary Czar, June Barnes. Imagine a peaceful harbour, all is calm and silent. It is 2.30 am and the crew slumbers quietly.
Suddenly, the two forward cabin bilge pumps whirr into action. Don leaps from his bunk, shouting "Abandon ship, we're sinking" and then notices that the toilet bowl is overflowing copiously. Somebody (who has not yet owned up) had left the seacock open! Just shows you June how important your area of interest and expertise can be.
So there we are so far, we have covered nearly 500 miles, encountered strong tides, overfalls, nil visibility, but so far no big waves.
We have visited relatives and friends, drunk 4 wine boxes, lots of gin and tonic and beer and eaten of the best. We look forward eagerly to the South coast - Kinsale is said to have the best restaurants in Ireland. Roll on. Poor Hamilton has to depart and will miss all this glory. Still, he's learned to speak proper, so he has.