It was one of those beautifully mild summer evenings in Ireland. The Dubliners were playing at the Merriman Tavern in Scariff and I was not working until the following evening. Perhaps my brother, Tony, would like to join me so I headed the 50 or so miles for North Clare from my apartment in Shannon. He was all in favor of the idea so off we went on the Honda CD175 towards Gort and eventually to Scariff.
We parked the bike by the old weigh-house feeling it was relatively safe there. We arrived in good time and choose a seat close to the stage. The guys were in great form and we had a wonderful evening. During an intermission Peter Downs came over and told me he had hunted some kids away from my bike. He assured me that it was OK and advised me to park it closer to the tavern in future.
When we went back to it after the show we found the kids were not the only people who had shown interest. A member of the Gardai stopped and engaged us in conversation. He enquired as to the size of the crowd and if we had enjoyed the concert. To be sure we had. He wished us a safe journey. The evening had evolved into a night of perfect stillness. The twisty road from Scariff to Gort was a joy even if we could not see the magnificent views. There was not a sinner on the streets of Gort and soon we were back on the New Line.
Our father, Thomas Francis, had been employed to survey that particular road at one time. It measures exactly one Irish mile he often told me. Not very long if you are using motorized propulsion but it is somewhat of a drag on a bicycle. Particularly if the wind is against you.
On dropping Tony off at the farmhouse I had a quick bite to eat before resuming my journey. The 175 ran flawlessly until Ballyline where the engine sputtered letting me know I needed to switch the fuel tap over to reserve. I should have filled up the tank in Scariff but in our haste to see the Dubliners neither of us thought of it. I did not relish the prospect of being stranded someplace around Ennis or Newmarket-on-Fergus. There was no all-night service station I could aim for. I did not know how much petrol was in the reserve supply. I knew it was not a whole lot.
For the rest of the journey I twisted the throttle ever so gently. I coasted down the few inclines I encountered. Fortunately most of the route was relatively flat. I took a few short cuts I had got to know. It was with a sigh of relief I rode into the courtyard of the apartment building in Drumgeely, Shannon. I must have been running on fumes as I was to find out next day. Of course, I did not have any food in for breakfast and had to ride down to the nearby store. That was as far as I got when the engine quit. I did not have to remove the filler cap to know what the problem was. As luck would have it an acquaintance came by in his car. He drove me to the nearest petrol station where I borrowed a container for petrol. After returning to the apartment for a late breakfast (well, lunch really) I was ready for the evening shift at the textile factory.