Slouching Towards Bantry

A journey is a hallucination. -- Flann O'Brien

Monday, March 06, 2006

My Native Guide


After driving in a circle between the villages of Inchigeelagh and Ballinageary looking for a hostel, I finally stopped in the Rose Briar pub to ask for directions. There I found 70-year-old Ted Vaughn, an Inchigeelagh native, seated next to the hearth with a pint of stout, his fifth of the day.

Having known the previous owner of the property on which the hostel is now located, Ted volunteered to personally guide me to my destination, but not before we drank another pint of the black stuff and then walked across the road so I could buy a few provisions. While I browsed the store aisles, Ted bought a pack of cigarettes and flirted with the shop clerk.

On the way to the hostel, he told me stories of how, as a younger man, he had attended all-night drinking sessions at the place, when it was owned by a friend of his, Tim McCarthy, a farmer. McCarthy, said Ted, had eventually died from imbibing too much poteen -- Irish moonshine. Laughing, he added that one of the renovated accomadations at the old farmstead used to house pigs.

Ted, recently released from the hospital, has throat cancer, but so far refuses to foresake smoking or drinking, although he says he indulges far less in both habits nowadays.

When I asked if I could take his picture, he opened the door to the village hardware store and posed for this shot. As he did so, he told me another tale about the hardware store owner, who having no money to invest in property after World War II, ingeniously built his store by placing planks over a creekbed and then constructing the building. Nobody it seems owned the space over the creek.

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