The Wall At Keogh’s Pub

In Autumn 1995 Ty Spaulding and I traveled to the Far West of Ireland.

Our rented house in Ballyconneely had a view of the sea, moors, bogs, and the Seven Pins of the Connemarra. The internet had yet to become an instrument of communication and we wrote letters to friends around the world.

Most recently the writer/artist Jocko Weyland emailed a later epistle telling a tale of those times.

Mikey lived in a stone croft outside the village.

He had few good words for anyone.

Here’s the long needed edit of said letter.

Enjoy.

Jocko, it was a little strange in Ballyconneely. The first day in town I walked to Keogh’s pub, expecting pipe whistles and cheery men singing around a peat fire. Instead a brooding huddle of EU-subsidized cow farmers greeted my entraance with a squinty glare. I offered a round and settled into getting drunk, thinking, “This is the birthplace of the grandparents.”

A shove interrupted my sentimental reverie and a bandy-legged gnome with a tam covering a Brillo pad sweep-over aggressively demanded, “What yee lookin’ at?”

I answered honestly, “The wall.”

“I’ll be troublin’ yee to not look at that piece of wall. It’s mine. Mikey Malone.”

The barkeep ordered him to shut his hole, but from that day onward the locals avoided me.

The shunning was extended to Todd, who had a bad back from tree-cutting in Hawaii.

I roamed the boglands in Wellingtons alone.

The weather in September was fine, October was slightly grim, and the rains struck with a sodden ferocity in November.

Everyday Todd’s love interest called from sunny Los Angeles.

“Why are we here, instead of there or Thailand?”

My mother’s final wish was for me to go the Emerald Isle and meet someone like my sisters, cousins, or aunts. I acceded to her incestous command, however the only women within ten miles were pregnant fifteen year-old, forty year-old matrons, and two lesbians in Clifden, although one night I was drinking at Keogh’s and an attractive twenty-year old redhead was tending the Guinness stick. Mikey noticed my gaze and shouted out, “Does the American stand a chance with yee?”

She took one look and answered, “Not a chance.”

“None at all.”

Mikey was quick with his advice. “Right then, back to yer beer and don’t look at me wall.”

Todd later married Malibu Stacy. She was good people. After a few margaritas we swam in the East River on my birthday. The lovely blonde wore a table cloth as a sarong. Todd and she are still happily married and I know well enough when not to stare at someone else’s wall.

Milla Slainte

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