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Ireland 1975

Monday May 26, 1975
The new Shaeffer set me back $5.00 and I'll be a while taming it. Its new life all curled up and writing backwards with a southpaw. My pockets empty for artsy paraphernalia from camera supplies to a new journal. And all for a trip to Ireland.

It's time again to search out some inspiration. But as much as an isolated act and a piece of isolated time -- more of the process. Not from desperation but from a growing belief in myself. Perhaps this will be a happy and creative time to be with myself.

It's only 2 days before I fly to Dublin. Though I am barely ready, I've been preparing for years. I am very stoned on the energy that is taking me there and my stomach complains bitterly.

If it wasn't for breakfast... hot, life saving even fresh fruit. I mean you can even stumble off to an imaginary little toilet when your bladder screams like a Ralph Steadman drawing and wonder like thousands before you whether or not it flushes all over the wild blue yonder and eventually onto Lethbridge, Alberta.

Myra: I got a seat by a window. The Rockies were as magic as I had hoped. We're about half way now. First cloud cover. Probably just entering Manitoba now. Thanks for getting me and my stomach to the airport.

Paul says "people live everyday lives -- farmers farm and bus drivers drive buses. They've no time to be running around making magic." We'll see. Seems to be a certain knit sweater driving sheep to pasture thing I'm looking for.

This is a strange little plane compared to what I was expecting. It's a Boeing 727. Humble compared to the 747. It's like a bus. Three seats on either side of a single long aisle. No movie. Music though. From c&w to "Concert in the Sky -- the Classics by the Masters". Crashing drama and Clockwork Orange weirdness. Right down to an organge CP jet. Really, it's enough to make you giddy.

If that last Boeing was a bus this is a barely reconverted WWII bomber. From the window at the Montreal airport I see luggage is being taken on. Of course there is no sign of my pack.

As I walked into the departure room... the camera scans the most amazing collection of people. Some of them look so Irish it's embarrassing. To be sitting here in my tweed cap scratching away in a journal is pretty odd. Must be an aspiring writer on a pilgrimage.

What I continue to forget about airport hopping is that its primary consciousness is honeymoons and pissed off thirteen year old daughters in profound pain at the public display their families put on and the anguish of being identified with it.

DUBLIN
Blood drips out of my sandal as I wonder for the first time why for Christ's sake why am I doing this. I am demolished. I don't know where I am or what time it is. I only know I haven't slept for almost 2 days. One eye is bright red bloodshot. Scary and ugly. Totally confused. Cold, cloudy lousy day in a city 5 times as busy as I ever imagined. Grey foul industrial madness. Pace? Holy fuck Toronto is quieter on a summer Friday rush hour. 10 o'clock in the morning (in my bleary brain it's about 3:00 a.m. -- the end of an insane day of jet riding and no sleep the night before) and I am standing paralyzed scared insecure and helpless in downtown Dublin. Walking, walking walking back muscles aching. Hotel after hotel a lot of vacant stares up from empty guest books and "sorry we're full up." Looking me up and down and snearing! Incredible. Put down in Dublin for being poor and weary.
River Liffey, Dublin, 1975
In desperation I ask a cop and he stops for a lovely eye sparkling chat. "Mean, I really don't know. I don't stay in hotels." And what exactly was it I was looking for? Ah, what you want is a bed and breakfast house. Which should get around here to how I met Mrs. Meehan, 391 North Circular Road, Dublin 7 (Buses 4-10-12-14-22). And how I got to have a hot leisurely bath for $1.50 and how here in the middle of the afternoon I find myself between immaculate starched sheets in a room full of almost Victorian almost antiques and how the sudden silence is strange. But it won't because I need some sleep so I can go out and give Dublin another chance tonight.

She knocked at fifteen past six and awoke me from my coma. I feel so small in this funny little room with that loud large foreign city out there. When she woke me I hardly recognized myself. I was clean, refreshed, even shaved. I smelled of her funny spicy soap. Though still disoriented, I feel much better.

She was really a find. She's given me this fine large room with 2 beds (she usually doubles people up on busy weekends like this) with breakfast in the morning for £2/50 a night. A gabber for sure but mainly saw that I was very weary and just related to helping me. I'll stay here 2 or 3 days until I catch up to myself. Maybe even a week for there are interesting plays on this week.
Four Courts, Dublin 1975
Before I stroll down to Murphy's on the corner to sample the bill of fare I want to make some notes on Dublin.
I walked the fairly long distance to the Grafton Street / St. Stephen's Green / Trinity College area. I am quite unsure of myself. Faces of young Liverpool / Carnaby Street energy Kentucky Fried Chicken and jeans shops. Thriving middle class, thousands of new cars (European sub-compacts). They scream back and forth almost hysterically,  completely absorbed in a life that makes me curious and lonely. Ireland's magic is based on more than a conspiracy of myths though. Or it may be a more sophisticated conspiracy of myths than I had imagined.
Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin 1975
He danced out of the crowd at me on O'Connell Street. Every vein in his face was plainly visible. "Can you help me lad I'm looking for the bus station." I told him I was still a half a day behind myself a part of  me still back in Vancouver and that I had not the foggiest notion where the bus station might be. "Ah! Are ya home from Canada?" As he shook my hand most warmly he said "It's delighted I am to meet a man like you!" And then into the story of how one brother had been in Canada forty-five years but might come home this year. And how another had come home from Australia after twenty-five years but was now dying of cancer in his neck and to go visit him was the reason he needed to know where the bus station was and moving in close holding me by the elbow, "Er, what I wanted to know was could you help me? I'm a few pence short of the bus fair..." The only coin I had was a 10 penny piece (a quarter). He snatched it and walked away without another word.
McDaid's, Dublin 1975
He made me feel better. The things I was worried about were the furtherest things from his mind. I keep walking on O'Connell Street toward the famous Grafton Street that Brendan Behan talks of so much. Walked on the outskirts of Saint Stephen's Green. Saw many more pubs that somehow intimidated me. They were perhaps parodies of what people like me thought they should be like. They were prosperous and "done". I was quite hungry and thirsty but these places kept putting me off. While checking out one gaudy replica I turned and saw McDaids.

Bay windows -- pretty, plain but lots of nice woodwork. Big wooden door lightly stained. Inside it was just a pub like any -- especially in the States! It had 2 things going for it though -- it was very small and it was serving Guinness draught. The head of this beer clings to the side of my glass and makes me think of homemade bread. Behan says it is rumoured to have been so good around the time of the First World War that your glass would stick to the bar. It is so good. It feels as good as it tastes.

The breakfast at Mrs. Meehan's is most impressive. Grade A bacon ("It's worth the money for you get less back on the plate."), sausage and an egg. At the table with me was a real live nun. A member of the order called The Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement. Friendly, comfortable small talk. I liked her. The chat about "oh and did you have a good flight" and "well you know I had an aunt once in Seattle", I find enjoyable and comforting.


EDDIE
An old fellow in Murphy's last night told me that to get to the Phoenix Park and the Zoological Garden all I would have to do is walk due west and I'd be there in 10 minutes. Some hour after I started out, finding myself in what might have been an obscure corner of the Phoenix Park (it turned out to be an immense park -- a whole corner of the city). I chuckled when I saw a "Cattle Crossing" sign but later saw whole herds of cattle grazing happily in this large public park. I asked a fellow if he could tell me the way back to the centre of the city. He could and he turned out to be Eddie, a twenty-eight year old jew-and-nigger hating New York City ex-marine, ex-hippy, ex-Child of God renegade from "love" and probably "justice".

He was on his way back to Dublin too. We started walking together exchanging bits of information. Things like "I don't smoke dope. I'm done with that shit", slid into his conversation unsolicited. If talked touched on conditions in New York City (I saw him do this later in the day too with a soft-spoken friendly young Irish artsy type in McDaid's) he would jab with "It's the niggers."

He freaked me out at times with his American patented post-acid "craziness". He would offer explanations why he was so fucked up with an unquestioned assumption that he was in fact fucked up.

Another very fine side of him developed starting from the pub where we stopped in while heading to Dublin from the Phoenix Park. He met an old fellow he'd talked to in the park asking him for directions to a prison which housed most of the revolutionaries of the Republic at one time or another and was presently a museum. They had a great old time telling lies together.

At one point I said I was going to run off and try to cash a traveler's cheque before the stores closed. He asked me to wait and not leave him there alone. I said I would wait if he was heading downtown too.

As we walked we talked of America and Ireland. America about how fucked up times like the war and dying cities gave everyone such a raw deal. Only sometimes did he see it through New York City drunken red neck eyes. We had found companionship in wanting to relate to the soft-spoken gentleness of some of the Irish people we had met and freed ourselves of some of our caution to talk honestly. He told me of freaked out drug days and of almost getting sucked in by Moses David's crusade. We walked along the Liffey and his views of niggers and jews softened considerably when I questioned him about them.

This long walk and our glasses of stout at the outset mellowed us. We found our way to O'Connell Street and north toward Grafton and into McDaid's for one before afternoon closing.

It was strange to spend the afternoon in Dublin with an American but it was companionship. The Irish, while sitting in a pub or stopped on the street for directions are generally very friendly but they would of course have no interest or inclination to drop everything and go off on an adventure with you like someone lost and lonely like yourself would.

Though once earlier a young Irish "hippy" dressed like a gypsy (or perhaps vice versa) sat with us at Eddie's invitation on a park bench. She was very friendly and wanted to take us to what she called a "hip" market in the area. We went with her and she tried on long silk dresses and had a good time in what seemed to me to be a tourist trap filled for the most part with gaudy hippy knick-knacks. Earlier intentions of relating carefully to the gentle Irish were scattered to the winds as we fantasized together of the carnal delights she must be leading us to. An hour later walking down crowded Grafton Street she saw a friend coming towards us. She stopped to chat and disappeared into the crowd.

Eddie and I walked on and browsed through some bookstores. He talked knowledgeably and sensitively in his rough Irish American way of Yeats, O'Casey and Behan. He seemed to be confiding in me when he said he wrote poetry and had once had a poem aired over the radio in New York. I couldn't find the books I was looking for so we moved on. Down a side street I saw the Bailey. I wasn't sure where the reference came from but I knew it was a famous literary pub.
The Bailey, Dublin 1975
White and blue exterior with elaborate metal work and the tall windows now painted as mirrors. Inside, the main colour is blue. Lots of hanging plants, light from half-circle windows near the very high ceiling. Very old iron based tables with thick marble tops. French style round seat and back chairs.

The Bailey interior, Dublin 1975
"Have you a shit house?" Eddie asks a visibly offended barman.

"Among other things, yes", he said."To your right at the top of the stairs."

I suppose it was late afternoon as we settled in. There simply seemed to be no reason to stop drinking the rich tasty black stout, though now the next morning I find a small reason I'll keep in mind next time. Mrs. Meehan's breakfast has taken care of my body but my head's a little strained from being awake half the night.

For hours it was very pleasant sitting there watching the people come and go and drinking. We bought a paper and talked of taking in a Tommy Makem concert. Somewhere along the line the beer hit Eddie pretty hard and he got morose and belligerent. Raving about a women he left 4 years ago but was of course now madly in love with. On and on about niggers and jews until I had to ask him to stop as I'm sure he was hoping I would. He was a drag at this point so I decided to split. I gave him my address in Vancouver and told him to look me up if he were ever there. I would be very happy to see him. He said he would at least send me a post card and I walked the 2 or 3 miles homes the tendons in my ankles almost killing me.


SUNDAY MAY 31
This is Sunday and another cold, overcast day. It must be the glass of stout I had on the way back here that's made this room warmer because I see that Mrs. Meehan hasn't got any heat running through the tiny radiator. Before I went out tonight she brought me a cup of tea and a piece of fruit bread. This morning when I told her I'd be staying a couple of days more she got up the nerve to ask me if it wasn't a lot of trouble keeping my hair so long "and all feminine-like", tied up at the back? Breakfast here is an amazing experience (as are the double decker buses). Yesterday a nun and this morning in the flesh one of the little reasons the Irish hate the English.

My feet are extremely sore from all the walking I've done. This morning I walked a long round way to the centre of town. I watch Dubliners going to and returning from church and I took some interesting photographs including one of a trio of teenagers. As I walked by them (I'm still feeling unsure of myself with people on the street) one of the young girls said "Are ya goin' to take our photograph?" bold enough to take me from my aversion. I said I'd love to and they gave a lovely self conscious pose. I thanked them and felt better.


The People's Stores, Dublin 1975
The high garbled voices of a couple of old women in through a front door and fading down the hall bring me back abruptly to the fact that I'm in Ireland. I still don't really believe it and I'm not at all sure how it happened.

A Henry Moore sculpture welcomed me to town today as one once did the same in Vancouver. It's in the very striking Saint Stephen's Green and it's dedicated to the poet Yeats. St. Stephen's Green is probably the most beautiful city park I've ever seen. The numbers and types and sizes of trees are the most amazing things about it. It is completely enclosed and sheltered from the city by huge trees. Within the park they are scattered in groups. Many different kinds bending gracefully over the ponds and streams or standing tall as can be imagined. In one of the large open lawns where benches are numerous, I noticed a pile (between 50 and 100) of wood frame canvas pull out lawn chairs for people to relax on or sun themselves on. As in numerous places in this city there are clean, large public cans.

Nearby stylish young moderns making the scene -- the new bourgeoisie. The local hangout is "Captain America's Cookhouse" -- overdone in red white and blue cliché (on the outside anyway, so far I've resisted a couple of invitations to go there for burgers). It's on the second floor but there's a large colour graphic of Captain America at street level announcing it. Above it someone has written something now unintelligible about Trotskyites and CAPTAIN AMERICA IS A PIG!

So I drank my glass of wine at The Berni (bourgeois or no it's sure nice to see the pubs open on Sunday afternoon) and walked up Grafton Street to what seems to be the closest thing I can find to a small decent restaurant.

There are numerous corner grills and greasy looking take-out shops and I've noticed a few very pretentious "members-only" restaurants. There are many Chinese restaurants but somehow it would seem to be a shame to eat Chinese in Dublin. I did notice a couple of cafe's today that look worth trying but they're closed because it's a holiday weekend.. I finally settled on a plastic Zumburger sort of place and had passable fish and greasy soggy french fries.

Before I caught my bus back to the North Circular Road I stopped in at McDaid's for a glass of Guinness. There, two fellows one probably a prof and the other a T.A. or something (though mind you Dublin brand of both) told me a story about the fellow who had just passed out beside me. He'd been lecturing at the university in St. John's Newfoundland and he met an Englishman who rebel Irishmen had been looking for since 1916 because he was the army officer who ordered the execution of a Dublin humanist and pacifist who had nothing to do with the uprising and 2 also innocent youngsters of 14 or 15 years.

The jokes went along the line that in a newspaper piece the unconscious man was writing about the incident he should lay claim to all sorts of heroic acts such as "breaking a whiskey bottle over the man's head, for nobody'd know any different." Nevermind that the pacifist, shot on a bridge over the River Liffey, probably took the easier cleaner choice of a bullet in the head rather than getting his hands and clothes all dirty by jumping into the river to try to escape.

I finished my stout and got up to go catch my bus. The younger of the fellows, who had talked to me earlier about the prospects of getting work on such things as oil pipelines in Canada, said they were going to another pub down the road apiece and would I like to come along. My caution said no.


BRODERICK CRAWFORD
This walking is killing me. Today was a viscious one for a lonely tourist. Four layers of clothes barely kept me warm. Thick grey clouds and late October wind. When it rained, the cold went right through me. I did manage some long trips on the double decker buses and bought some theatre tickets as well. Siobhán McKenna's Here are Ladies, a one woman which I guess has become a summer standard in Dublin opens at the Gate tomorrow night. I have a front row seat and am looking forward to the theatre itself as much as the play. The Gate introduced Behan and Beckett to Dublin and the owner spent some time in jail for such bravery. Strange city. The local daily lists the saint's day as well as the date. The tedious 1960s contraception debate still rages here.

Tonight I'm off to a show called The Brother at the smaller of the Abbey Theatre's 2 stages, called The Peacock.

The Abbey was a bit of a disappointment. Very modern and official. I entered just in time to hear an over dressed wealthy American woman about 50 years old screaming hysterically in casual conversation with her entourage that "Oh, we don't care what play it is. If it's at the Abbey it's got to be good." Several people, including one who actually is a common type of person in Ireland, a very beautiful freckled woman with long straight red hair who was working the box office, looked like they wanted to throw up.

Earlier in the day I was walking past the Gaiety Theatre in the Grafton Street area. In 2 or 3 days a play opens there called "That Champion Season" and it stars Broderick Crawford. Mr. Highway Patrol himself. It might be worth seeing especially when I recall that I saw him in an early Fellini film and he was very good. As I passed from the stills on one side of the Gaiety entrance to the other, he creaked and limped out onto the sidewalk. I nodded hello but he just limped on by. He must be at least 75 years old. I watched him hobble off and across the road to Sinnotts, the nearest pub. I went then to the corner to buy a morning paper to use as my cover and went into Sinnotts taking a stool near him at the bar. He was surrounded in seconds and he mumbled away in his unique way. I couldn't understand one word but a lot of people pretended to and laughed heartily.


THE BROTHER
I guess that Mrs. Meehan is finally convinced of this cold spell because tonight for the first time there is heat in this room. This my fourth night here and I guess I'll stay a couple more before I go to a hostel somewhere in the country. It can be depressing to be a tourist , especially travelling alone in a place that sometimes seems full of nothing but lovers. They've got their nerve sitting cooing on park benches making me feel lonely.

Today the city was pretty empty, this being a bank holiday. I've just come back from the Peacock Theatre, the second stage in the Abbey Theatre where I saw a one man play called The Brother based on the works of Myles na gCopaleen who is I guess Brian O'Nolan who wrote At Swim Two Birds. The central character is employed by an author referred to a "your man" and he has him do all kinds of strange, degrading and probably illegal things. He frequently stops mid sentence long complex tales of strangeness and heroism to order "a ball of malt and a pint of plain", when the barman approaches as he frequently does. Sometimes this character tells of things he'd been forced to do by your man and with a change of hat and coat would do stuff from O'Nolan's books. Other times, only a blackout and a change of lighting would have him do quite unrelated bits and although some of these were really funny they didn't relate to The Brother sitting in the pub as 95 per cent of the play did and they made it seem uneven. Suddenly there wasn't a play happening but a cabaret. Which must be a large problem in staging excerpts from a range of a writer's work. Except for the youth and stylish haircut not quite disguised by the ruffling the actor's (Eamonn Morrissey) brother was very funny with his shakey, jumpy Irish manerisms that even my father is afflicted with  -- and he's never been here. A concept and a rationalization for everything that might come up (especially drinking) no matter how far fetched. At the end of the play, when he's loaded and can barely stand it's the cursed thirst that's getting to him, not the drink. Earlier it was the smokes.

Unfortunately it made the experience of being here a little more unreal -- one level of the play was just another one dimensional  comic stage Irishman amusing the tourists. Though some of the jokes seemed to be meant for Irish audiences. Mainly though, the play was a serious and loving presentation of a very respected Irish writer. (A couple of days later, in McDaid's, a fellow was telling me the play was not at all tourist bait, that it was very true to na gCopaleen's work and that most of the Irish seeing it wouldn't get much of it.)


OUR FRIEND, YOUR MAN -- UP IN THE DIGS
I could be moving on to worse but at least I'm out of that insane fucking rooming house. It completely closed in on me and an old drunk pissed all over my humble belongings. Kept me awake all night snoring and puking.

Early evening Mary Meehan tells me a regular customer of hers is coming to town and she'll have to bed him down in my room, for there's nowhere else. (Turns out the rest of the place is rampant with nuns again.) This really pissed me off because I'd really been enjoying the privacy and the little writing table. It was about 11:00 when I got home and I had trouble sleeping mostly because I was anticipating the arrival of the new guest.

The pubs close at 11:30 on a weeknight so I guess it was midnight when he noisily swished and wobbled through the door, the most amazing assortment of noises coming from him I've ever heard. He flicked the light on and offered a juicy hello in Irish when I moaned and looked out from under the pillow. He got his shirt half off and back on three or four times and then ran upstairs and made the most sickening moaning and heaving noises imaginable. (This morning there were drops of blood around the top of the toilet bowl.)

A few minutes later he was back down the stairs and into bed, snoring seconds after hitting the pillow. Howls and whines and screeches. What is most intolerable about snoring, though, is its perfect rhythm.  If the last one bothered you at all, you painfully know exactly when the next one will be. When it started to make me very angry I leaned over, gave him a shove and asked him if for Christ's sake he wouldn't mind rolling over. He didn't roll over. He didn't wake up. But he did stop snoring. But with the timing that made assholes like Jerry Lewis famous, he again began to snore and gasp and choke and gurgle and fart. After shoving him and yelling at him 2 or 3 more times I had to admit that there was nothing I could do about this noisy smelly pig of a man who'd been foisted on me. I sat up. I smoked a cigarette. I fantasized. I reminisced. I finally became sleepy and had a delicious, joyous, intense erotic dream -- inspired I'm sure now, by Siobahn McKenna's Molly Bloom soliloquy in Here are Ladies last night at the Gate Theatre. The woman in the dream was Myra.

(The train has just this second lurched out of the Hueston Station, beside the Guinness Brewery carrying me with it straight west across the country to Galway.)

It took a few minutes for Our Friend to fully awake me from this dream. I gradually became aware of him clumsily making his way across the room. A spray and the noise of numerous drops woke me abruptly. I somehow guessed what he was doing and I sat up and snapped the light on. In a single motion he put his cock back in his shorts and was back in bed asleep. 

This was a hideous black joke and I wished I wasn't finding it funnier as it got longer. I was beyond angry by this time. I was outraged but also amazed. He'd been standing in front of my little writing desk pissing on this journal, the 2 clean pieces of clothing I have to my name and narrowly missing my tooth brush. Holy Spike Milligan! I jumped up and rescued what I could, stomping about cursing and grumbling in disbelief. By this time the room stunk like I couldn't describe but Himself seemed to be at last played out. The two of us slept from here on relatively peacefully.

I open one eye this morning to see him dancing about merrily (merrily on the outside -- it was plain he'd died 3 or 4 deaths on the inside), shaving himself with my razor and using my towel. I've taken nearly all I can when he greets me warmly and offers me a cigarette (he's already lit one up for himself). I got myself out of there and onto this train faster than I would have thought possible.


THE JOURNAL CATCHES UP ON THE TRAIN TO GALWAY
But all of a sudden I'm sitting in a country pub drinking pints as fast as they can be bought (for some shamelessly low cost -- about 55 cents) with some fine people from all over the world, and up the next morning to make myself an omlette and loaf in the salt and seaweed air.

There's a day gone by me though that I haven't had a chance to jot down. Come to think of it, it's 2 days now.

First there was the day that preceded my nightmare at Mrs. Meehan's. The very most amazing thing in that day was seeing Siobhan McKenna's Here are Ladies but earlier and all through the day I was in much improved spirits because the shops were open after Sunday and the holiday Monday and I busied myself going to bookstores and booking my flight home. 

There is one place -- I think it's called Bewley's that I had especially been waiting for. It had been closed since I first saw it but was to reopen that day. It is a large and very charming cafe specializing in coffees, teas, and pastries. It is somehow very evident -- even from the outside -- that it is an old Dublin institution and like some of the pubs its beauty and character is available to all -- not just wealthy Americans.

The front window supported my flashy little rent-a-bike as I went in though the coffee and tea store and into the back and into the large and very busy high ceilinged cafe. A young hip/student couple were sitting at a large table and I asked them if I could join them. He turned out to be a student, just finishing an engineering course in a Dublin technical school and she turned out to be from Paris and trying to learn English and live in Dublin for a while. He chatted on very amiably, she smiled a lot and was very attractive. His view of Dublin was that of the hip student with a middle class background. Tall, black hair, very blue, very beautiful eyes. Healthy, prosperous, well dressed. Maybe he didn't feel it himself too deeply, but he was certainly aware of the magic that Dublin can have for visitors and he told of good and bad pubs and good and bad people as I stuffed myself on numerous delicacies. McDaid's was one of the favourite haunts of Brendan Behan, he explained and it was a warm feeling to know why. And that's where they were going as a matter of fact. Strange, I said, that's where I was going too. 

There we met friends of theirs and had a very good time drinking Guinness. Friends from France and friends from Ireland. This was the part of travelling I'd been missing. Hearing people talk of travelling to various parts of the country. How they got there and what hostels were good. The French woman -- Brigitte was her name -- gave me a list of good pubs, bed and breakfast houses and hostels that she had gathered travelling around Ireland in the last few months. When it neared time for the play to start I began the very pleasant Guinness-coated bicycle ride home.

The Gate Theate is certainly not the tiny back lane theatre it is purported to be in the book Beckett and Behan and a Theatre in Dublin by Alan Simpson. It is sort of Ireland's second National Theatre.

Last night was the opening night of Here Are Ladies and as I found out the next day in a newspaper review the first night Siobhan McKenna had ever staged the show in Ireland.

I was surrounded by gowns, tuxedos and limousines. On one side of me was an entourage, the head of which -- a ratty little white haired man -- must have been something like the Minister of Defense, because they kept bringing him drinks and sucking his big toe. On the other side, the ruffled, noisy Dublin "theatre scene" yelling in-jokes and hollering hellos across the aisles.

Siobhan McKenna: She's inspirational and it's impossible to say anything about her that wouldn't cheapen and sensationalize her great art just from the presumptuousness of saying it.


GALWAY, LADY GREGORY, W.B. YEATS AND THE COMPTE DE BASTEROT
Anyway, as I said, the train lurched out of Hueston Station clacking and thumping towards Galway.  The countryside across the midlands is, except for some very fine stone fences, dull and monotonous. Thick black cloud cover as there has been 90% of the time since my plane got within sight of the island.

The train arrived quite late in the afternoon  so I thought I had better hitch-hike to straight to the hostel I had decided 0n -- which I thought to be about 15 miles down the road -- and not spend any time in Galway.

The hitchhiking was very good but the distance was longer that I had figured. When I finally reached the village where the hostel was I thanked the driver and watched him drive off down the road, only to find out moments later that I had to go another 2 miles down that same road then a further 2 miles down a crossroad. When they say in Ireland that something is located within a certain village they mean that it is located within a 5 to 10 mile radius of that village.
It was now evening and there was almost no traffic at all. Once or twice a truck would go by and wink or nod. Four miles with a pack that weighs probably forty pounds. Last night I was furious but today as I sit with the hills and rocks around Galway Bay in my view I couldn't care less.

The worst of it was not knowing what I was going to. This is the first hostel I've stayed in and I didn't know what sort of people would be here, whether or not there would be room, if I had enough food or if I would be able to get something to eat at all. I knew I had to supply my own food but I had no cooking utensils at all.

After walking for what was I guess 2 hours, I came on a pub/general store village. There were  3 guys there with packs and it turned out I was at least on the right road. One of these fellows was from Hamburg the other 2 from the French part of Switzerland. The one Swiss fellow who spoke English fairly well wanted to know if Robert Charlebois , Giles Vigneault, Pauline Julien and Felix Le'Clerc were as big in Canada as all over Europe.

We walked the last mile to the hostel, once the summer retreat of Florimond Alfred Jacques, the Compte de Basterot. Descendants donated it to the Republic to commemorate the fact that it was in this house in 1898 that Lady Gregory met with W.B. Yeats and held the first of the conversations which led to the founding of the Abbey Theatre. 

Huge bay windows at either end of the house, first floor and second one on top of the other floor to ceiling. It has been reclaimed from years of disrepair but not really badly. Additions have been built and the men's bunks are off to one side in what might be a new building, or perhaps a guest house with an addition. The floors are stone or ceramic tile and a coal fire is lit in the large common room at night. Kitchen facilities are extensive and very practical --twenty or more small gas burners sit on a counter which goes all around a large kitchen. Every utensil imaginable is available and standing in the middle are large metal topped tables for preparing food. In a room off to one side there are tables and benches for eating off (the tables that is).

I didn't have much food with me but the fellows I walked in with offered me some of theirs. I felt clumsy and badly equipped but I really had no other way of finding out how to use the hostels except just to show up at one and see what happens. Considering that I'm doing this at a time when I'm in a strange environment, lonely and homeless it can really twist around my poor vulnerable brain.

After we ate someone suggested going back to the pub for the evening. Suddenly my feet didn't hurt anymore.

"The Travellers Inn" said the sign. It was the local meeting and watering place and last night there were lots of the villager there and some fine old ballads sung. And a new one -- a version of Galway Bay rewritten to be about various parts of a woman's anatomy. I don't remember how it went.

The general store is open as long as the pub for the same old woman keeps running behind a partition from one to the other. I managed to buy everything I'll need to stay here for a few days -- including a loaf of freshly baked bread and six local eggs -- and I'm well contented once again.

This place and the surrounding countryside have a peace to them that is very good for the soul. A silence and a tranquil feeling in the pit of my stomach that I forget too easily when I'm in the city.

A walk after breakfast this morning took me down to the shoreline. The wind was strong but warm. As the hostels are said to be very busy with local people on the weekends, I have decided to stay here another couple of days. This hostel is very remote and the people here are travelers from all over the world. It has the danger of easily being seen as a community of its own, thus making it even harder to relate to the local people. After a week on my own in Dublin however, I am very grateful for this little community. I have met some Irish people here and they are refreshing in that they are out in the country cycling and hitch-hiking and not in Dublin working to save money for the latest clothes. The Irish I've met so far in the country and at this hostel are fairly timid. The women strike me as being very repressed. Church and state work hand in hand in such things as the banning of contraceptives or for that matter anything that might have the people on a farm having babies.

When I was in Dublin, among the very small visible "freak community", I saw two people -- a man and a woman -- pasting up posters for a radical women's conference and demonstration. Wherever possible they pasted them over an older poster advertising a rock group called Irma La Douche illustrated by an American underground-comic-like drawing of a tough black stocking'd with her breasts half squeezed out of some sort of very tight Victorian looking body girdle. These posters were often written over with "This poster degrades women" and "Down with sexist ads!" I do though sense a lack of rebelliousness in Irish young people. Someone told me this morning that it would be embarrassing for an Irish person to smell of smoke from a peat fire for it meant poverty but was perfectly ok to smell of coal because it was more expensive. The young Irish seem to want nothing more than new clothes and a slight increase in prosperity.

I'm so far more comfortable with women from anywhere but Ireland but I'll be able to gauge this better tomorrow if I can locate Paul's sister Ruth in Galway. Sitting in the common room by the fire last night, 2 Irish girls both very good looking, probably 23 or 24 years old, travelling on bicycles. One had told me earlier that both her and her friend had just finished nursing training and were holidaying before returning to do a specializing year -- one in some kind of x-ray technology and the other to become a midwife. Soon an older woman. Kathleen, showed up. I'd earlier thought her to be the mother of one of the girls but she was in fact a middle aged native of Limerick -- some 60 miles to the south -- who occasionally took walking and bus trips to remote country hostels. She'd only just met the girls on the road into the hostel. Then Werner a very intelligent and amusing German fellow -- we had formed a very fine friendship at this hostel and ate and drank together and had some very interesting conversations about European, particularly German, life said it was time to go to the pub. Kathleen and one of the the Irish girls had said earlier that they were going for a walk and now said that the pub was their destination too. We all went to the pub and they bought us beer and most of the people from the hostel came. Gronghnia (spelling guessed) is her name. Her name is Irish though her features are more French. She has dark skin and hair, her eyes greem. She has very short hair and usually wears her jeans tight and rolled up to the knees. This "fifties" image is offset by very "hip" thick wood and leather thonged sandals. Her Irish accent I find very captivating. She's very sure of herself, or at least when she is, she has a deep heart felt laugh.


BACK TO GALWAY, ON TO KILARNEY
The Gap of Dunloe, Killarney Lakes district, West of Ireland 1975
I went on the bus today to Galway. Werner shlopped up a great mess of baked beans and fried onions last nite and without hesitation I slid a great pile of them down my gullet and then pumped a couple of fast anxious pints of Guinness down on top of them. I was sure I'd die on the bus. I'm just now, later the same evening starting to feel better.

Galway is a tourist trap. One nice pub and some...

...Where it's plain to see my pen ran out of ink. Suddenly in the basement of a large house (it's a temporary hostel and  awaits demolition) which must have been build in the 1600s and on the banks of what I thought would be the River Shannon -- though signs in this city along it every 100 yards hail it as "Danger River".

Galway is terribly tourist -- spiffy and generally a drag. I didn't like it first time through and I only went back to try to locate Paul's sister Ruth. I phoned the nurses' residence and from great confusion on the other end of the line came the reply that she was not there. Fair enough. I wasn't really there either. Slept in the park then for an hour or so and had a parting pint with the Europeans I had been with the last couple of days and returned, foggy headed and moody, to the hostel by bus. It's 2 miles from where the bus turns off to the hostel at Kinvara and it's a very fine walk. Fences of stone on either side of the road, cattle and horses grazing lazily. Strange grey hills of rock -- the only things not covered with some kind of lush green -- stand out to the west for about twenty miles out of small rolling green hills.

Walked to the pub later. The old gents who frequent the place gave out some fine songs. Beautiful starry night to walk home.

Beautiful weather now and I'm in the city of Limerick overnight to catch a train in the morning for the Kilarney area -- famed for its beautiful lakes.

The train the next morning out of Limerick takes a cumbersome winding route first well out of its way over near Tipperary and Cork and then with 2 transfers finally gets around to Kilarney near the west coast. Another day of sunshine with a damp Atlantic heat now settled down over the land.

Travelling has me weary this morning and in deparate need of a bath. The hostel filthy and drab.

The trains are a good way to travel in Ireland, though they make writing in this journal quite difficult. The eternal green countryside goes rolling by as a young hurly team yells and pushes behind me. Later perhaps the film festival in Cork, but first 2 or 3 days walking in the country near Kilarney.

An interesting Irish Times from Dublin this morning. It's a very low key tasteful newspaper similar in style and tone to the New York Times.

A piece reporting a conflict within the People's Republic of China caused by a campaign to restrict the rights of the bourgeoisie having gone too far at the hands of some local officials. Calm, informative stuff. Also a report on the Soviet press' response to Britain's vote yesterday to maintain its membership in the common market. It's clear here in Ireland -- where they await full membership in the EEC upon completion of their short term trial membership -- that the main support for the EEC is from the monied element.

The other thing of interest was a story with a large photograph of Brendan Behan's mother and widow. The accompanying story concerned the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate Brendan, being unveiled at his mother's house. Time to change trains...

Which I did seconds later I was in the bustling little town of Kilarney. On certain warm days when I'm travelling I can just set out and follow my nose and somehow get to where I'm going. A slow walk through town produced a sign with an arrow: Youth Hostel 2 miles. close enough that I could just wander over, leave my stuff, book a bed and walk back to town for a look around. One of the oldest jokes in the world: when I finally got to the hostel a sign pointed back: Kilarney 3 1/2 miles. Dripping with sweat and smelling like a rummage sale, I arrived at Aghadoe House out in the lake and mountain country of the south west. The hostel itself is a huge building of stone block built at least a century ago. But it and its grounds are kept up very carefully. The land is marked by huge trees and a mountain range is nearby to the south. Clouds are moving in now and a breeze is cooling what has been a very hot day.

At the pub last night the American woman who seemed to be the assistant house parent at the hostel was there and I sat with her. From initial awkwardness, conversation became warmer. She's in Ireland studying for credits through Loyola in Chicago in Irish Studies. She's spent as much time in Ireland as America in the last 4 or 5 years including a year (71-72) in Belfast. She has a sharp and articulate awareness of the political situation and gave me a view of a woman's position in Ireland which I had been very curious about.

We talked of a young North American's reaction to the old Catholic consciousness in Ireland and agreed that it is really no different than the vast majority of places in Canada and the US. She said that there is a very exciting consciousness among some people in Ireland but that it's buried and takes time to discover and to form a relationship with.

The Catholic Church often made her very angry she said but her studies had taught her that it was the Church and particularly its priests that saved the Irish language and culture through the 700 years of British law when both the Irish culture and the Catholic Church were illegal. It was not until it was made the state religion, as was the case always in history she said, that it became a repressive force. She also said that while it is very true that the Catholic Church does oppress women it does not do so nearly to the degree of Islam or Judaism or many other religions. I doubted that a woman fighting her social and religious oppression would find that very comforting. She agreed and said that Ireland certainly had a male chauvinist society. She said that much of the schizophrenic nature of the Irish comes from the imposition of the negative guilt ridden qualities of Catholicism onto the joyful life-loving culture of the Gaels. Irish speaking people are still markedly different from most Irish people in the spirit and the ease with which they will talk of sex, she said.

We also talked of Irish and Anglo-Irish literature and the current political troubles. She said there would be virtually no danger in travelling through the North though she herself couldn't go to Belfast for she had lived for a time with a Catholic family in the Falls Road area. Seems they were Republicans and somehow her connection with them left her known, and in some danger there.

She stressed that although the factions might split along religious lines, as minority coloured groups might in the States, the fight in Northern Ireland is economics, not religion. It was a mess, she said, because the English-ancestory, predominantly Protestant people of the North had been there for centuries and relate to Northern Ireland as much as there own country as I do Canada. For the Irish living there this must be precious little comfort, too. They live in their own country as an oppressed minority. Seems like sometimes soon the Brits will -- as the posters demand -- get out and the Protestant majority in the North, those who stay, will become a minority within the Republic.  The North is Irish say the posters all over the Republic, Brits Out Now!


THE KILARNEY LAKES AND ON TO BALTIMORE,  CO. CORK AND THE FREIGHTER TO CLEAR ISLAND
Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland 1975
The sun on me here beside this lake is so luxurious. The country around Kilarney is blowing my mind and I think I'll spend a few days here and then move slowly along the coast to, where they say, "the next pub is in New York City."

I've heard fine things about the hostel at Cape Clear, Clear Island where I think I'll head sometime this week.

The next morning and I've cycled up into the hills to an area known as the Gap of Dunloe. It's a mountain pass and there is a clear, green river running through it. The cloud cover lifted by mid-morning and it is now clear, sunny and very hot.

One of the most beautiful things about this place is the absence of cars. It is accessible by bicycle or horse only. A sign where the road gets rough warns people to leave their cars behind. The road isn't all that bad but there's a thriving pony and buggy business among the farmers along the roadway. An Irish fellow at the hostel warned me that they would tell me that I couldn't bicycle up and would certainly need a pony but to pay them no mind. There must be 150 horses going up the trail. Small groups of them pass every 10 minutes or so.

There are very impressive mountains here and the river forms small lakes as it descends. There are no trees but moss and grass grow everywhere. Relatively recent rock slides give it a feeling of bareness. I can see clearly the bottom of this lake 35 feet from the shoreline. A fairly strange looking breed of sheep which may or may not be wild, graze freely throughout the valley.

The combination of the bicycle ride up here -- about 7 miles -- and a few hours in the sun lying on a big flat rock beside a cold, clear lake, give me a very good feeling of calm and peacefulness.

...And the most welcome return of my fountain pen. I have a rather severe sun burn. All across my back is stinging and my face feels like profound eternal embarrassment. I lied in that beautiful mountain valley for hours, had a swim and washed myself from head to toe for the first time in 2 weeks. I am in a very numb and very pleasant state. 


CAPE CLEAR, COUNTY CORK
Cape Clear, Clear Island 1975
No boats leave this rocky little island until tomorrow at 9:00. A silent, isolated Atlantic coast farming community, a group of Irish girls studying the Irish language at a small school, the 20 or so people staying at the youth hostel. Some good hitch-hiking today and a walk through the most amazing mountains and the acquaintance of a very good, politically aware priest. A

Frightening drives at high speeds along the narrowest of roads and the company of a young woman from Wisconsin. Hot sun and a fine boat ride. The hostel at Cape Clear. Looking into the infinity of the Atlantic Ocean.

Youth Hostel, Cape Clear, Clear Island, Ireland 1975

And cold to the bone this morning. It's only yesterday that I left Kilarney but it seems like days. Will I stay another week? My money could be stretched but it would be very tight for a couple of days. Spending at the rate I am now, I will have some money to put towards a bicycle when I get home. Now that I'm here, I have a chance to lie about on this gorgeous Atlantic coast and just relax and soak up sun. Travelling is sometimes lonesome. I miss Myra. I have a lot of energy travelling can't handle. I want tools and equipment and process. There are areas of Ireland though that I would like to return to sometime: Donegal, the Conemaragh coast, Northern Ireland's north coast. The best way to tour Ireland would be to land at Shannon and head immediately to a hostel; spend the week cycling and drinking. Tour for a while, then take your adjusted paced off to Dublin for a few days.


THE DEUX CHEVAUX AND THE ENVOY EPIC
WITH THE PLASTIC JESUSA
I had been hitch-hiking out of Kilarney for a couple of hours when I spotted this brand new bright red Citroen -- the basic type with the bulbous headlights and canvas roof -- and lusted after it. It stopped. German coulple, 30 or so, energy and good humour. Raucous laughter at butchering the English language. A beautiful ride past the lakes toward the mountain range. The town of Kenmare, County Kerry.

The towns are a little too cute and I always walk right through them. Within minutes, the inevitable priest brought his Envoy Epic with the Plastic Jesus to a stop. He drove very slowly, a mellow peaceful voice.

Over there was where he was born and there where his parents were born. The town I was headed to -- Skibereen -- was where his grandparents were born. Post card valleys of rustic bliss.

The conversation turned somehow to the culture and the spirit of the people. And the troubles, which introduced a very heartfelt, wise, loving summary of the struggle in the North. From this priest came the tale of the oppression for centuries at the hands of the English and his realization of the present struggle being an extension of this history. While he of course could not condone the murders and suffering brought about by the IRA, he clearly saw them as patriots fighting against the oppression of a cultural and economic tyrant. He felt an anger that he did not try to soften by some sort of liberal "understanding" of the torture, harassment and arrest without trial of Irish men and women at the hands of the British Army. 

"They'll never beat the Irish," he said. "We're a fighting race." The Loyalists would never leave but British rule might. Britain, he said, would be happy with any workable solution. Most of the trouble was caused by Orangemen he said.

He'd driven well past his destination ans suddenly said he would have to let me out here for there was nowhere else for miles for him to turn around. We were in the highlands on the steep narrow road to Glengariff which hugs the mountainside the sweeps through two peaks and descends into the valley on the other side. My pack was heavy and stinging my sun burnt back but I walked on through the pass and half way down the other side before hitch-hiking again.

"You can't see this country from a car," the old priest had said. The view of the valleys and the hills on the horizon were very impressive and I had the company of grazing sheep all along the way. Tunnels through rough jagged rock. In one of these tunnels a skylight has been drilled in, 10 or 20 feet from above.

On down into the valley to the small village of Glengariff where dozens of Irish men and children stop cars and obnoxiously hustle the rental of their boats to go the famous island of something or other.

Here I ran into a woman from Wisconsin I had met at hostels a couple of times before  and we hitch-hiked together getting a ride with a lecherous patronizing old lawyer who didn't care for how I closed the door when I got in. "Sure, you're just like all the rest of them. You slam that door like you've never shut a door in your life!" I apologized repeatedly, only taking him half seriously. He glared red faced straight in front of him.

Hitch-hiking in Ireland is very good and we were sitting on the dock in Baltimore waiting for our boat a couple of hours early. 

This is the first time I've gotten right to a secluded area right on the coast. It's 10:30 and going on 11:00 when the sun sets here and the sun was still high in the sky when our "ferry" eased out of the harbour last night. It was a converted fishing boat with a large steam-shovel like apendage and a hold full of gravel.  Six passengers made the 10 mile journey to Clear Island for 75 cents each.

The tiny island community is one of the last where people speak Irish and last night in the pub a man sang the most beautiful song in Irish. The pub is very tiny and is infamous in the hostels for its weak, watery Guinness draught. After one last night I switched to bottles which weren't nearly as good as a pint "well pulled" but are far superior to the pints this great fat red faced barman pulls. Guinness draught must be tapped carefully and slowly. The glass first half fills with stout and half with head. It must then be left 2 or 3 minutes while the head settles into the stout. This must be repeated 2 more times with a pause after each. The fellow at the pub here on the island lets it settle only once then scoops all the head out with a spoon, fills it letting the rest of the head overflow and hands you a pint with most of the flavour and thickness and syrup gone from it.

The pub got so packed -- mostly with students here to study Irish at a special school as part of their training to become teachers -- that I had to retreat across the road to sit on the rock fence. The sun went down and the lights of the pub went on. The light and the sounds and the sight of the people shoulder to shoulder through the tiny doorway were very warm things. A group of Irishmen studying at the school were also sitting on the stone fence and we had a fine amusing talk about Flann O'Brien. There seems to be no such thing as closing time at the pub but suddenly I couldn't see any hostelers and it was a half hour past the time they lock the front door so I wandered off under a sky thick and bright with stars to find the back door still open. (Though this morning I find it locked.)

I wanted to drink buckets of Guinness last night and get numb. I did. For the first hour or so I was the only person at the pub who was not speaking Irish. Am now about to commit heinous, viscous crimes on a group of noisy schoolchildren who are staying at the hostel. This fresh ocean air and a walk around the island should set me straight.

Fellow hostelers for the most part are dippy giggly simpletons. But then there's the young Irish people at the school here -- teacher trainees. They all speak only Irish except for small conversations with hostelers. They know lots of earthy, sexy, proud folk songs and last night there must have been about 60 of them packed in the tiny pub singing. They get quite drunk and any conversations I've heard that drift to literature or politics are quite interesting. Later there was a ceilidh and a fellow I had met earlier went out of his way to make me feel welcome to come along. It's very similar to square dancing and kind of dull for that not to mention how drunk I was so I left to go lie on the rocks by the shore and watch the night sky.


AIDEN POWERA
Lay at the shore yesterday afternoon and finished At Swim Two Birds, and got my legs painfully sunburnt.

Which was in the middle something I forget what when in comes the Dublin fellow, Aiden. I met him in Kilarney and he's been here since yesterday. Says he took up with the woman from Wisconsin who left this morning on her way to London and her flight home. He sat down at the table and started to chat and try as I did to stay inside my hangover and be pissed off at him for disturbing my writing, he cheered me up immensely.

Aiden Power. It's a common joke among people who meet him that he looks like Kurt Vonnegut in the famous photograph in which he holds a cigarette up to his sly, good natured face. Six feet and a bit, of what I think is known as medium build. One of his dearest possessions is his racing bike on which he is now touring the southwest. His extroversion never seems to wear thin and it seems like there's always at least one woman pursuing him.
Aiden Power, Clear Island 1975
It was a great pleasure to sit and talk to him about movies or books or Ireland or any number of things. Later he produced piles of food: meatballs -- cold, specially prepared in garlic, farm fresh cheddar cheese (a rarity in the little general stores in Ireland), figs and more fine stories. Mid-afternoon he said he had to go to work and he produced tools and an assortment of rings and wire and horseshoe nails. From these he makes rough, well designed jewelry to supplement the little money he gets off the dole in Dublin.

I went upstairs to get my laundry done -- cold water and hand soap. When I came back down there was a crowd around the table where he was working and the school kids were buying his pendants of leather necklaces as fast as he could make them. They paid about $1.75 each for them, The talk that he maintained with the kids was so good. They traded slightly dirty jokes and he told them stories the same as he would anyone else. They really dug it of course. I finished my laundry and went for a walk leaving Aiden at his work. Over to and around the lake and down to Denis Burke's where I am now having an altogether delicious pint of Guinness.


THE FARTING BALLERINA
This hostel is very easy to break into. There's always a door or a window open somewhere. This being an island with no police of any kind the pubs close when people are finished drinking them -- though last night the poor old fellow behind the bar did, shortly after 1:00 a.m. call out a token "Ah, drink up lads. Tink of da licencee..." A few locals nearby did hear him and looked at him in a distant, confused manner.

For some reason there was no electricity in the place at all and the only light was a single kerosene lamp burning lowly. I had earlier discovered Murphy's, the creamy stout draught that is giving Guinness a run for its money. (The Irish don't drink Guinness on these smaller islands... they say it gets sea sick.) Two young couples sat in the corner, one of the men with a guitar, singing very un-Irish songs -- among them some beautiful wailing Leonard Cohen songs.

This pub had been closed earlier in the evening when Aiden and I and an English fellow were by. This fact took us to Dennis Burke's where Aiden told a very long story about the very famous ballerina from one of the poor rural areas of Ireland. She was due to give a command performance for the Queen but had a serious problem. Invariably and uncontrollably while executing a certain turn she would fart. This turn was done 2 and 3 times during which she would fart 2 and 3 times. The story followed her great anguish to London where she studied the brass doorplates of all the specialists until she came to the fart specialist. He listened patiently and studied his texts having her demonstrate time and again. With a wise nod he stood up and left the room to return within a moment with a long round wooden pole with a sharp brass hook on the end of it. "What in the name of Jesus are ya goin' to do with that?" demanded the frightened ballerina. "Open this window up here before I choke!" replied the fart specialist.

We figured we had time for one fast pint down the hill before the hostel closed. That was 11:00 and it was well past 2:00 when we left. Aiden had been talking to some prosperous looking people who he figured were out from Cork in their yachts. They told him they were having a party up past the hostel and so we set off. There was no such party there but at the girls' residence of the Irish school there was the most amazing activity that had obviously been going on for hours. In we went and sat on the floor of the first room we came to. Bunk beds one after the other all around the room supported a large number of people in their late teens. Some necking and hugging some drinking from quarts of cider that were being handed around, some singing or playing music. Aiden decided to "get us a couple of chicks" and staggered off. I was quite drunk and couldn't quite grasp what was happening or at least to grasp how cool it was for me to be there. I sat up against a wall and smoked and took it all in. Out in the hall I could see a fellow I knew to be a teacher at the Irish school having an intense, animated conversation with some of the students. I started to get the feeling that it wasn't very cool to be there so I walked outside to hang around to see what would happen. The feeling grew and most of the Irish guys were splitting so I figured I best go back to the hostel. I thought if it turned out I had missed a great party by my over caution I would be very pissed off.

About 10:00 this morning Aiden returned to the hostel having spent the night in an empty cottage he'd stumbled on. It had not been cool and he'd almost gotten into a fight when they tried to kick him out a few minutes after I left.

And an afternoon of sun and Donleavy. A pint of cure mid afternoon at the bar near the harbour where the old guy who'd been minding it last night gave me a mischievous wink. Three in the morning before he got out of there and up to look after his cattle at 7:00 this morning. Warm and friendly. He had a pint with me and told me there had once been 2000 people on the island. And that the Lord knows where they all lived. The present population is 150. Back then the population of Ireland was 8 million. Three million now he says, 6 counties and all. And the craziness where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. "Tings wouldn't work if everyone was rich or if everyone was poor. There's got to be things working well between them. But," leaning into me confidentially, "right now the rich is misusin' the poor." And that it will all end in the old 6x2. And that it's funny when you come to think of it.

I have only 4 days of this peace and torture left. Since it takes a day in and a day out of the most remote hostels, this will be my last stop. I've got my laundry done. I have a sunburn and I've been drunk half the time. It will feel very good to be home again.


BACK TO DUBLIN AND A VISIT WITH THE KINSELLA'S IN BRAY
It rained. Great buckets and splashes down my back. A hundred cars passed me. None with any passengers. They slowed down. Some waved. None picked me up.

Trains and buses are expensive here but I've had it with hitch-hiking. I walked over 2 miles back into Skibereen and paid $5 for a 60 mile bus ride.

While Rockefeller investigates the CIA and destroys Teddy Kennedy while absolving the CIA.

Cork. The train tomorrow to Dublin. Bray and home. Soon. I'm tired and have been abusing this delicate wee tummy.

Today wasn't part of my holiday. I had adapted so well to pure survival that I came to with a start and a shiver in a coffee shop up out of my newspaper an hour ago.

Craziness on that magical island and an irate warden kicking us up and out of bed at dawn for waking him at 1:00 by b&e'ing his hostel. The bus to Cork. And here now and maybe a pint of Murphy's at Bridge Street with a woman from Australia who I met on Cape Clear.

Rocking side to side on the train to Dublin. A very well dressed clean-shaven man sits diagonally from me looking out the window, occasionally a piercing scream imitating the whistle and brakes.

And the Irish Times. Some purpose and integrity. There are personal experiments with style within its reportage. A commitment to civil rights. A frequent anti-gaurda slant. The best wire coverage outside the New York Times. And a history of supporting some of the best Irish writers. Brendan Behan, Myles nCopaleen. But strange, really twitty "formula" film critics. Self-important. Intellectual.


BRIGITTE AND BRIGITTE
Without too much trouble I get over to Grafton Street, reconfirm my flight home, order a couple of books, drag my pack through the crowd at Bewley's for lunch of plaice a huge piece of chocolate cake and up here to the sunshine in St. Stephen's Green. Slept poorly last night in the noise of Cork and am still recovering from the train ride. Today in Dublin and a night in the hostel where I'll leave my stuff tomorrow while I go to Bray. I'm sure I see among the sunbathers Brigitte who I met a couple of weeks ago in McDaid's. I'll go see.

It was and a friend whose name is also Brigitte. Between us we sort of threw a language together and had a very nice chat, interrupted only once -- by a greasy young Irish kid lying nearby rolling over and trying to slip his hand into one of their purses. She beat him  severely with her eyes and we moved away. We trade travelling stories and talked about Quebec. The friend had just finished a childcare course, hates Paris and will move away from there as soon as she can. She lived in Germany for 2 years and liked it much better.

I finally find the hostel on Morehampton Road -- after several bum steers -- and by the time I'm to meet Brigitte and Brigitte at McDaid's they were gone. So I had one by myself then went for a walk. Through the very impressive Trinity College. An oasis of Greek architecture and rough stone roads. Green lawns and magnificent trees. Located Tara Street train station from where I'll go to Bray to meet the Kinsella's.

This hostel will do nicely -- it even has showers -- until it's time to catch my flight home. Dublin-Shannon-New York-Toronto-Vancouver.

And now my last evening. A day of some walking and shopping and pleasure at being able to get around this city (and pleasure that I don't have to stay and try to support myself here). A shower. The most wonderful refreshing thing. And a very beautifully bound and set copy of Ulysses. A present to me. Wishing me all the best.


BRAY AND HOME
Putting in time. At this point I am ready and eager to go home. Later I'll scratch my last Irish currency together to see if I have enough for the bus to the airport, as well as a last pint in McDaid's.

A day after meeting the Kinsella family. Family situations always make me feel that I'm chained to a seat at a Pinter play that I don't want to see.

I hoped there'd be nobody home. There was. It took only a few minutes for the teenage daughter Leigha to collect me at the train station. High energy and a brain three sizes too large. Talk and talk and talk. Beautiful energy of the other 2 kids now living at home too -- out of a family of 8 kids. Charming small talk, giggles, performance. It's a little too intense but is all made to make you feel at home. The mother a mother like any other and the mirror of my own. She sat very properly and grinned so sweetly. "Ah, and isn't it sad when families move apart. Ah, poor Paul. It was a misunderstanding between him and me, I think. He wanted to go to university so badly." And is his hair long and does he have a beard? "Well, you know the daddy didn't have a very good job then and we couldn't afford..."

The remains of decades lined the walls in the way of books and prints. A family portrait. Eight kids. Sport among the 3 youngest was to sort through and share stories of Great Fights of the Family, when one hit the other for insulting the other. 'Round and 'round. The incidences are laughed off and those concerned remembered affectionately.

Father finally arrives. This Pinter play was written especially for me. An Irish good natured slap on the back, shoot the shit, and make you feel like you're an alright guy. Feels so good to be an alright guy. Jokes too numerous to not be pointed about people who don't work. Scorn at the Tinkers and out and out patronization when young Mark tells about what good handball players some of them are.

On the off chance that a certain wailing one-year-old has gone into the terminal, I'll hazard this disgusting musak and suffer through the hunger pains for 45 minutes at the Shannon Airport awaiting the flight to New York and stay on this plane that is idiot-ridden and muggy. I could go into the terminal and try to buy some Irish currency and then a sandwich but I'd hate to miss any of the food on this plane that I've already paid for. I'll see 5 airports today. I don't like airports.

Last night I met Ray and the Two Brigitte's (appearing nightly) at McDaid's. Brigitte #1 who I had met when I was first in Dublin told me that she had a flat for £5 a week in a house where her friend Jean was living. Her, Jean and a Malaysian mercenary (!) in the Irish Army (a pro-American) share kitchen and can. She's in Dublin to be with her boyfriend Ray. He lives with his parents and has just finished engineering school.


John Kehoe's, Dublin 1975
We went to O'Donahue's the famous musicians and politics pub. It was so packed that we had to split. To John Kehoe's and the artists and writers scene. The pub much more "done" than McDaid's. But older and very tasteful.

Brigitte #2 is small, probably 22, short blond hair and an almost dull kind of prettiness but sparkling eyes and a warm smile and laugh. An invitation to stay the night at their flat. But I wouldn't have time to get to the hostel before it closed and not nearly enough time to collect my stuff from the hostel and then rush to the airport by 11:00 this morning. I've very little to base them on but I'm left with glorious fantasies.

This morning I ran into the Australian woman who I've been meeting around the country. She said she'd write me for social work possibilities in BC. She seemed pretty down. To try to get into Canada to work right now is a pretty depressing task. and Werner last night talking about the next plane back to Hamburg. I'm glad to be on my way home though this airline is having one fuck of a time getting us out of Ireland. We are at least an hour behind schedule.

The Atlantic crossing is evidently 6 hours this way though only 4 on the way over. I've had nothing to eat all day and I'll choke that baby the next time it makes a sound. But first, this asshole ahead of me who won't sit still....

Dublin weather moves in on Vancouver. The house is empty and still, save for the music of a saxophone  now bumping and slinking out of the radio. Numb. Clock here says 2:15 yet it's 10:15 at night and I slept all afternoon. 12,000 miles. Not quite far enough to see Myra. Fucking tree planting! A note from her seems to say she'll be here in a day or two. Drag myself downstairs say hello to Dick give him a hug. He says Myra wanted my letters to say I miss you I love you. I did and I do.

A sextet led by Charlie Christian and a recording from 1940. Away long enough to have a pleasant re-experience of this house. Little traces and scents and arrangements of a newly re-acquainted house.

The beginning of the long dash followed by 10 seconds of silence indicates exactly 10:00 a.m. Sunday June 22, 1975. CBU Vancouver with 90 transmitters on the Pacific Network.A