It was a nice day for a walk in the neighborhood. Though I have referred to Carrigaholt as a village until now, I have thought of it as a town. It’s bigger than what I think of as being a village. What does bigger look like? Two long, wide main streets, which intersect in the center of town, comprise the village, with the cross-member of the tee being the highway which runs parallel to the ocean.
The center of the tee extends past the crossmember, right to the water’s edge, no more than a couple hundred feet away. This is the same water’s edge that Annie and I sat at a week ago, and pigged out on take-away chips. Today, I was back at that water’s edge, but only to gain access to the hard-packed sand that lay off to the left, and which wound down the beach, sweeping down and around at least a half-mile away to the point. I had been to the ocean’s edge several times, but always over wet rocks, and hordes of seaweed, making any forward progress risky.
On the left side of the concrete jetty, the footing was perfect. I had picked up one of the town dogs on the way down that main drag (that sounds highlyquestionable) that came from Suan-Na-Mara, and she now cavorted happily, her new friend (me) willing to accompany her any where she chose to go. Right now, she chose to walk along the beach, and so did I. I christened her Nell, after Durtie Nellie’s Pub, and she stuck with me the next two hours. The beach was nice, after walking all around on the asphalt surfaces of the roads. Even out where the roads have an asphalt base, and graveled surfaces, it’s still harder on the feet than sand.
I tossed shells to Nell, and she thought that was grand. I thought of Clancy, our Australian Shepherd, and Doser, our English Bulldog, back home, and enjoyed having a bowser to romp with for a while. It is all such a romp. We spent the first six days traveling all over, doing the tourist thing, and I will have spent the final six days, tracing every square inch, an hour in each direction (except out into the water) and then doing it again. Now I was back on the sand and rocks.
There are t’ousands of perfectly formed shells, because there is no surf to speak of in the estuary. Above, when I say water’s edge, I am referring to the expanse of water that is the meeting place of the River Shannon and the Atlantic Ocean. However, it is protected and therefore very placid. When the tide comes in, those boats I talked about, rise accordingly, and can be utilized. As I walked past the dozen moored crafts, two were in the process of getting ready, the owners’ vehicles pulled alongside on the concrete abutment, where the steel steps, leading down to the water, provide entry to the vessels.
In both instances, there were two fisher people, and one person dropping them off and then returning to her respective vehicle. Later, about four-thirty in the afternoon, while I was sitting there eating my veggie kabob, one of the two boats had returned, and the catch was being attended to.
Now, I continued my walk, and searched amongst the rocks, shells and seaweed. I encountered the occasional chunk of rusted twisted, aged steel, always suggesting a former existence on an ocean vessel, but I did not find anything other than a furious squall, that drenched my pants through in about sixty seconds, and then stopped, just as abruptly, the damage done.
Being blustery out, but for the most part dry, and being close to sixty degrees-sorry, 15 degrees, celsius, I was dry in twenty minutes. I had retraced my steps back to my starting point, and now I wanted to go back out the same direction, only this time on the road. The road ran along the beach for a little while, but then curved inland. Nell and I cruised along, careful to stay on the right-hand side of the road, so as to be able to see the vehicles coming at me, who would be closest to me.
I had listened to Annie explain her careful analysis of the pedestrian traffic the other morning, and had agreed that the locals did not seem to care which side they walked on. I, however, while possibly loco, am decidedly not local. While walking by myself, I find it comforting to know that the vehicle approaching from the rear, theoretically, should be on the opposite side of the road. This morning, only one vehicle passed me the two hours I was out. The best laid plans of mice and men, he muttered.
Exactly how big is Carrigaholt? I thought you would never ask. Ever striving for accuracy, I paced that sucker out. As I hit the intersection, and swept LEFT, I counted 280 strong paces; well, they were as strong as my five foot ten-inch-in-my-stocking-feet could pace. I’m not the math guy, but that’s still going to be not too far off of a t’ousand feet. That’s too long for a village, especially since the road I travel the length of, to get to the vil-town, is just as long.
How many domiciles exist on those two “boulevards?” I was afraid you’d ask. It seems as though there have to be A WHOLE BUNCH, because that’s a lot of wide avenue we’re talking about. I counted, but you knew that. Let’s see, the first “domicile” is St. Mary’s Hall. OK, OK. The second looks just like a rectory, and the third is the church. Shoot, that chewed up a lot of real estate, but there still were two beautiful homes on that little stretch. Counting the rectory (sure, and why not? It’s a home), that’s three. What about the right side of the road? A total of seven homes. That’s ten.
Now Nell and I are on the main drag. It has become obvious that I will need her to help count, because I fear I will need more than my fingers and toes, so I’m in trouble. Stick close, Nell. We pass The Anchor, on the corner, the first of four spots in our town that you can get some libation. Across the street, and in one building, is Morrissey’s Pub, posting stouts and ales as their specialties. Next door is The Long Dock, the subject of an earlier discussion about lunch.
My experience today is an example in how things can be different. The other day it was deserted when we entered, and Ann and I enjoyed our meal in relative obscurity. Wanting nothing more than that same creamy vegetable soup, I sidled in there, leaving poor Nell to fend for herself. Though the street was deserted, the Dock was filled with people sitting on the...never mind. For the first time over here, I felt the spotlight, big time, and there was no Ann or Eric or Cecilia to chat with, and let it all roll off. I had even abandoned Nell. So as I took in the fact that Sunday at 12:45, must be the non-posted family hour, every eye in the place was fastened on me. Liar. You have no idea. You just assumed they were staring at you, but it’s the same thing.
Even if either of the waitpersons who had been there last week, were there today, I would have had more confidence. But the kid, who had brushed past me once, and was hustling just to get beverages, looked like he had his hands full. I waited, at least ten min-seven min-five minutes, before I decided to beat a dignified retreat, backing the two steps out through the heavy door, without so much as falling on my backside. Nell was there to greet me, and we were off. The great housing survey must go on.
So that’s three pubs, and then, of course, our very own Carmody’s. How many of you get to sift through the local pubs in your area, and then pronounce one of them yours? Besides the pubs, there is Max Bites, the post office, Claire’s Crafts and Keane, the little market. There is one last business. This is a home with the traditional Gaelic greeting on it, that adorns our own front deck, and a picture of a maestro with a violin, the music teacher.
As far as homes, there are nine on the one side and eleven on the other, mixed in with the businesses. There are lots of walls, one or two solid, richly-painted gates, and vast, unlimited numbers of flower containers. Assuming each business is also a home, that makes thirty-eight, in the immediate center of the village, which by any other name is still a village.