And Other Folk Tales
The air was still and the sea was calm. You could see from here to the Point of Dingle as we reflected on the events that had unfolded in the past few days. We had traveled from Killarney to Kinsale and on to Dingle. And now the cigar smoke rose into the night. The stench of which the smell of fish could not kill.
It was in Killarney that we first learned that Thomas was a criminal. It was true, and larceny of all things. Nothing like a jail sentence as a marker. Life can be cruel in that way. The magistrate recited things quickly, it was hard to follow. Something about a specialist being needed. Please fill out this form, pay 50 Euros and she would be on the case. Like a high priced hooker or lawyer in pursuit of your desires. Yes, she would find the boy, searching every particle of genealogy that existed in the digi-sphere. There was nowhere else to look. At this point, he could be on a rack in the dungeons of Dublin for all we, or anyone else knew. But we continued our search online – and off toward Kinsale.
Are there ghosts in Ireland? We weren’t sure but we did indulge in a tour of sorts and this is where I first encountered Sheila. He/She was not what I expected. In fact, our guide insisted it was not possible. I think he used Sheila more as a diversion or ticket into a graveyard just outside a 1200 year old chapel. She was a dead ringer though for someone else. I know this because the minute she appeared someone else recognized her/him as an old love interest. A very old interest.
Our guide was remarkable and seemed to know so much that we could not help but follow him around Kinsale till it became quite dark. Peppering him with questions of Thomas’ whereabouts. He encouraged us to listen to the Celtic music in the various pubs for clues. In the various bars of music, in between the phrasing, the jigs and jangles of screeching strings of violins and guitars we might gain insights as to what drives a man to dance or even larceny. Sheila was not amused and ordered a Tanqueray and tonic.
Let’s go fishing she said, so we did the following morning.
It was an old rubber dingy with a motor. Two rods but no nets or towels. Nothing but our bare hands to wrangle in the catch. The water was not bad, smooth actually and the surroundings were magnificent. Old stone fortresses guarding the small harbor on either side of the mouth of this small bay. We caught a few mackerel and tossed em back into the glassy water. One actually leaped away not wanting to have anything to do with us.
A ship lay smashed against the rocky shore. A victim from a harsh storm a few weeks ago. The greedy Captain did not heed the warning to pull in quickly or head way out to avoid the scorch. So the rocks became his nest.
It’s amazing but I cannot recall a time myself when there were so many musicians who played for so many. No matter if they were amatures, wannna-bes, or what-evers. Probably not since the late sixties during the folk era when there were hundreds of musicians everywhere playing. Think early Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul & Mary. Robert Zimmerman. It seemed every nook and cranny at that time had a folk house or place with coffee, poetry and a song. Against the war, against the establishment, against the tide.
In Ireland today it does not matter whether you are in Dublin, Kilkenny, Kinsale, Dingle, on any given night there may be 10, 20, 30 small groups playing in pubs and hotels. All playing their hearts out. Intensely beautiful: fiddler, accordion and guitar. Throw in a drum, maybe. Maybe not. A river dancer or sorcerer weaving us into a musical trance. A rambling rambunctious disco diurnus that stirs and soothes a troubled soul. Ask any ghost …including Thomas Joyce.