Dean Mulroy is the kind of guy who needs room to roam and access to the stars, which is why he lived way back in the bog behind the house I rented in Inverin. Only a certain kind of guy would want to live as he did. At the time, he was unimpressed with technological conveniences, including a telephone, and the first thing he did when he moved into the lackluster, two-bedroom stucco house he rented beside the bog’s serpentine stream was rig the existing phone to such a pitch that people could call in, but he couldn’t call out. He had what he thought of as a reasonable explanation for this, but I didn’t learn it until much later, after our friendship had taken root and he no longer held me in suspicion.
It had been my habit to walk the endless bog behind my house after I got home from work in Galway. It was summer time, and sunlight hovered well until ten thirty during this halcyon time of the year. I ambled through the bog because it seemed to ground me to the soul of this particular region of Connemara. One foot after the other gave way to a rhythmic cadence that put me in tune with something soulful and unnamed. I did my best thinking on my walks through the bog because it gave my feet purpose and allowed my chattering mind to unleash into an impressionable, free-floating stream of consciousness. This is how I learned to interpret rural Ireland; by dreaming my way through, step after meditative step.
The third time I passed Dean in the bog, he abruptly stopped me. He’d had entirely enough of not knowing who this stranger was in his midst. A slightly built girl with long blonde hair and a pair of Wayfarers in rural Ireland must have been anomaly enough, but to see a face repeatedly in Inverin and not know the whole story was an unpardonable sin. People in Inverin don’t keep to themselves; tacitly, it isn’t allowed. By virtue of the fact that one lives in Inverin, they are automatically a part of a collective consciousness that operates under the assumption that all of its residents are members of the same tribe. And because the Irish are not prone to insinuating themselves upon a stranger, Dean Mulroy chose the colloquial way of introducing himself, which is to say that he cast his eyes skyward and commented on the weather. “Ah, she’s blowin’, all right,” he said standing firmly in my path with his hands on his narrow hips and an even stare. I’d been in Ireland for two months thus far and knew how to respond in the Irish way. I raised my eyes to his dark frame of wavy black hair and met his blue-eyed glare. “She is, yeah,” I said rhetorically.
We next got down to the exchange of names and I learned he already knew where I lived because there is no place to hide in Inverin. A single American female living in a holiday home on the side of the coast road is big news in a town the size of Inverin, but Dean still wanted the unadulterated facts. It took him all of two minutes to invite me to call out the next day for a cup of tea. I knew now that people in Ireland are always “calling out,” which shouldn’t be confused with just showing up, because calling out has a much bigger purpose. I turned his invitation over and jumped to what any American would immediately ask. “I’d love to,” I told him, “what time would you like me to come?” Dean looked at me for a heavy, pregnant pause, with a brow so knotted I thought surely it hurt. “Don’t put a time on it,” he said. “Come when it suits you.”
I had two thoughts as I continued my walk through the bog that day, and the first was about the weather. For a population that revolves around the vagaries of the weather, it’s easy to see why the weather in Ireland is personified as she. It’s because she is pervasive and dictates everything, so when someone in Ireland uses the word “she,” everyone knows what is meant. The second thought on my mind was how authentic and unselfconscious the Irish are as a culture. If I extended an invitation to anyone for the following day, I’d be ready and my house would be perfect, but that is not the way it is with the Irish. Dean’s lack of concern over the timing of my arrival demonstrated the open-armed way the Irish receive anyone: There is always an open door, no matter the time, and they are ever at the ready to put the kettle on and offer a cup of tea.
It was a thirty minute walk from my front door to Dean’s rented house, deep in the bog in Inverin. I took my time the next day sauntering through what came to be a habitual pattern along a quiet gravel path through turf and brittle bracken. When I arrived, it was two o’clock in the afternoon and I found Dean in his kitchen, freshly shaved and waiting. He held a guitar on his lap, looked up when I appeared, and said in a matter of course, “I’ve been singing me heart out all day.” We exchanged personal histories and drank tea until our heads were swimming. Dean told me about the dolmen that lay in the bog behind us and said he’d show me himself, but he wanted it to be my own discovery. He next told me that the ancient graveyard down the dirt road across from my house was haunted. “Tis a brave soul, it would be, who would walk that road at night,” he said fixing me with a challenging stare.
“Have you ever done it? “ I couldn’t help but ask.
“I have,” he returned, “but no woman would want to.”
The sky turned the color of bruised eggplant, releasing a torrent of mercurial pelting rain. Running for dear life to Dean’s tan-colored van, it took my full strength to pull the door closed against the rousing wind before we rattled the bog road to my house. Dean leaned his head through the window in the stinging rain, shouting as I ran to the shelter of my porch. “I’d call you, but I’ve cut meself off; too many late nights on the drink running me phone bill up. Unless it’s planning on bumping into me on one of your bog-trots, you are, you’re going to have to call in to me.” I told Dean surely I would then, ducked safely inside.
Later that night, after the rain let up, I put on a light coat and stepped outside my door. I stood in the darkened stillness until I’d made up my mind once and for all. There are no streetlights that far out in Inverin, but I had the light of a waxing moon. Cautiously, I crossed the coast road. I heard the gravel scratching beneath my steps and put one foot in front of the other in an intonation that sounded like a military march. A slight wind blew like a whisper, then rushed forcefully, just enough to startle me before it ebbed. I thought I felt a chill on the back of my neck and wondered if it was the night air or just my fear. Down the lane I continued, until the graveyard loomed on the hill to my left. Granite tombstones in varying heights crowned with Celtic crosses glowed eerily in the moonlight. It was a graveyard forever marking time, halfway down a lane all but forgotten. I walked steadily, not wanting to hesitate, not daring to stop; only wanting to walk the lane at night because Dean Mulroy had said no woman would want to.
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Admin Comment by Fran Reddy on November 16, 2015 at 9:04am
Is there a part 2?? You MUST tell us about being in the graveyard!
Yes, Fran, there is more to this story! Much of it is in my novel, "Dancing to an Irish Reel," which was released last March by Vinspire Publishing. It's available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and all other online book sellers in print, e-book, and audiobook. Http://www.clairefullerton.com will show you the book cover and tell you more. I call it my love letter to Ireland!
Admin Comment by Fran Reddy on November 18, 2015 at 9:51am
This story is so beautifully told. I cannot help but think you could never leave the place, the way you have come to know and understand it. I will be getting your book for sure!
Oh, that's great, Susan, I hope you do get the book because the way I see Ireland is all throughout. And maybe I did physically leave Ireland, but deep inside, she never left me!
Heritage Partner Comment by That's Just How It Was on November 19, 2015 at 6:06am
It surely is in your souls Clare ............. I get it .
I just finished this part in the book. You really have a way with words and bringing me right into the story.
It's so fun for me to think of you reading Dancing to an Irish Reel! Thank you for letting me know!
Good Woman. I hope that was not the end of Dean? Irishmen of the fussiest kind work so hard to make everything in their early relationship with women seem so casual. If the truth be known women would be put off if they knew the lengths some fussy fellows go to in the wooing stakes. I knew of a Garda who would tidy up his flat to shipshape standard, and then after this rigorous tidy up he would deliberately untidy it, and lay different items of uniform and his best or most expensive clothes in strategically selected areas.
Weather permitting you may have been meant to walk the graveyard in company! Even the Gaelic language is fussy in its descriptiveness and graveyard habitat. A lot of night life goes on you know. For instance once when we visited a graveyard in Callinafersy, after a few drinks, we got a hell of a fright as an owl flew past at head height letting out an unmerciful screech. I learned later that that particular class of owl was "An Screachan Reilige" ...The Graveyard Screecher!
The following is an attempt at mixing oil with water and carries a sad cautionary tale which I heard for the first time in a friendly hostelry the" Lord Edward" delivered by one of Sliabh Luachras finest Bards. All we have here is the written version which is still humorous perhaps tragi comic. Any self respecting "Dub" would never let an opportunity slip as with this Mícheálín from an Gaillimh. Absolutely no reference to Dean intended.
I heard a story, O mo Athair.
If you have no Gaeilge it does not matter
This rural Ireland tragic tale
narrates a sad, seductive sceal
concerning lust without discretion.
Is beagan rudai eile freisin.
uair amhain fado, fado,
on a little farm near Carraroe,
Lived buachall maith named Michael Mor,
an only son of 34.
When work was done at end of day
he would settle down with cupan tae,
He never felt the need to stroll,
or spend the evening time ag ol.
His intellectual needs were drawn
from books like "Peig and Iosagain".
Meanwhile up in Baile Ath Cliath,
a cailin deas had a bright idea.
When laethanta saoiretime came by
decided she would like to try
a little place like Carraroe.
No foreign food, not far to go
And there to meet the local clan
And bfeidir find herself a man.
This cailin deas with eyes so blue
was known in town as City Sue.
The lusty buachailli came crawling,
and all agreed she was go h-ailinn.
She left the men in state of shock.
O Michael Mor bi cuaramach.
She, heading West, beware a mhic.
Mar ta an cailin ana glic.
The lights shone in the parish hall
for the local Fainne-wearers ball.
Bhi Michael ann, bhi Susai ann,
dressed in most revealing gown.
This brave Cuchulain of the West,
with Hurling medals on his chest,
exclaimed when City Sue came in.
"In ainm De, will you feach ar sin".
Though nervous still he took a chance.
"Cead mile failte, will you dance".
Go luaith on the floor they strut,
cheek to cheek and head to foot.
She whispered into Michael's ear
"Eist anois. we'll disappear".
We'll use my place, the door's unlocked,
You'll stay the night in seomra a-hocht."
Chroist Michael's head was in a spin.
Ni raibh se ag smaoineamh thoughts mar sin.
He blessed himself, this Jezebel
would surely damn his soul to Hell.
He stood aghast, could barely stutter.
Off he pedalled ar a rothair.
Straight abhaile, into bed.
Decades of the Rosary said.—
Michael Mor still sleeps alone
in his leaba beag, ochon, ochon
He often thinks of seomra a-hocht.
What would have been o Michael bocht.
Admin Comment by Fran Reddy on November 24, 2015 at 9:09am
Although I do not know the Gaelic language, I did not need to, to get the gist of this tale! ; )