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Neighbors & Sunshine

May 29, 2007

corey says…Today Liam and I made our way into Nenagh, the nearest market town. I truly enjoy the village. It’s a working person’s town with nothing “planted” for the tourists. People still do their shopping on the main street…even with the addition of the strip malls outside of town…and the general feeling is that of a bustling village.

A Bank With Real Customer Service
My first order of business was to change over some dollars. That was easy enough…just a little painful as the value of the dollar has dropped again this year. After I changed my money, I asked the woman at the customer service desk if there was a toilet I could use. She said, “Sure thing, come with me.” As I followed her down two hallways to a table with a hidden key, she said, “Now it’s not a public toilet, so I’ll come back and lock up after yee’re done.”

Mobile Phones and Internet Connections
My next order of business was to address a few computer and mobile phone details. I needed to reactivate my mobile phone which hadn’t been used for over a year. That was an simple task.

Then it was off to another shop, Nenagh’s authorized Apple reseller. Before my trip, I never bothered to check to see if my MacBook Pro had a port to plug in a phone line…it does not! She unfortunately didn’t have any type of adapter and suggested wireless broadband. It was an excellent option…especially at €19 per month. I let her know that I don’t know if I could get reception.

“Where are yee staying?”

“Up by Cureeny.”

“Oh dear, I’d say you won’t be getting broadband up that way.” The look on her face suggested there may be a 50 year waiting list. “How well do yer mobile phones work up there.”

“Well, on the top of the hill and on the other side of the valley, it works some days.”

“Yeh, that would be the only way to get the wireless,” she confirmed.

An image of me climbing to the top of the hill in the lashing rain with laptop held to the sky in hopes of getting a connection came to mind.

Stopping by a few shops, I found out a few options to consider, but I think I’ll stop by the computer store in Limerick some time this week to see what they say. In the meantime, I tapped in to the connection at the internet cafe in Nenagh…it cost me 75 cents (€3 an hour).

Our last stop was Woody’s DIY (Do It Yourself)…much like a small Home Depot or Lowes in the US. There we bumped into Tony (who I flew over with). He too was buying a few things for his cottage.

Watering the Horses
When we returned to Knockahopple, a neighbor was watering the horses kept in the field next to us. As he carried buckets of water to the trough, he warned us of a possible frost tonight. He was very concerned about the plants we just bought at Woody’s. We assured him we’d be taking them in for the night.

He watches over the place when no one is around, and does so with such diligence you would think it was his own.

A Night of Visiting
This evening we had an invitation to call in on a neighbor. He’s lived on his family’s farm for 80-some years and still keeps a few dry cows. Liam, Tony and I went over with two other neighbors.

The man is called the “Peeler,”a regional nickname that dates back to a time when one of his ancestors was a police officer, or “peeler.” The reason why has not been revealed to me yet, but he does not like the name at all. In fact, we were advised NEVER to use the title in his presence.

The house has seen better days. The man is just barely able to care for himself on his own, so keeping up the house is not a priority. One of our neighbors helped serve whiskey all around, and the other neighbor served as interpreter when necessary. Yes, he spoke 100% English, but sometimes you’d think all of us were speaking different languages. The conversation picked up after Tony, being the good doctor, adjusted the elderly man’s hearing aid. Having a doctor from America call in on him again (Tony had visited in February) pleased him a great deal.

The man told us about his trip to his brother’s funeral in Edmonton, Canada, in 1984. Then, he asked if dances were popular in the United States. He explained how they have fallen out of favor in Ireland, and he told us about the platform dances at the cross he remembered from years back. These were outdoor sessions where planks were laid at a crossroads and the music and dance would go all night. It sounded as if there was no greater night than a rainless evening on the platform.

One of our neighbors promised to take us to one of the old dancing spots where a slab of concrete had been poured so that boards didn’t have to be put down each time there was a dance.

A Stop For Tea
We left the “Peelers” before the sun was down, and one of our companions invited us in to his house for tea. There we enjoyed tea, bread, butter, canned corned beef, biscuits and an authentic potcheen punch recipe…it’s a little different from the one Liam serves. I was careful to only have 1/3 of my serving…as I’m a bit of a lightweight when it comes to liquor, and I had already had at least two whiskeys earlier.

Our host accepted our invitation to attend a session in Nenagh tomorrow evening. Our friend Theresa L, who wrote the theme song used on our podcasts, will be there and invited Liam to sing and Tony to play his fiddle. I’ll be going along for the craic.

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