After the "lard" incident at the airport, there were other extraordinary happenings that are vivid in my memory thirty five years later. On my second day in Ireland I was out on Lough Ree in a rowing boat, fishing with a flat-capped bachelor farmer of seventy plus. We took the fish back to his humble cottage and fried them over a turf fire while an image of Jesus stared down from above the mantelpiece.
Near Bantry I met Ronald who was in Europe for the first time. A white orphan, he had grown up in a bush village in Tanzania partly watched over by an Irish priest who had brought him back to the old country and lent him his old Datsun car. Ronald spoke like a black East African and drove at approximately fifteen miles an hour. We got drunk together in Bantry after I had pitched my tent. I was naturally perturbed when he repeatedly asked if I liked to "rub the rhino horn" or "play with the banana".
A couple of days later, after a long wait on a remote County Kerry lane, I got a lift from an artificial inseminator. We made several farm stops where large buckets of scalding water were waiting by the rear hooves of bovine mums to be. At one farm, I was invited to slide my arm into a long polythene glove and then push it inside the moaning cow while he - the inseminator - prepared a long glass pipette half filled with best bull's semen. He laughed at the agonised expression on my face - for this was certainly not what I meant about dancing in Kerry with a green-eyed colleen.
This may be my last post for a little while as tomorrow Shirley and I are heading south to England's rich underbelly for a ten day break in Sussex but if I spot an opportunity, I will blog again before returning to the grim reality that is "Up North".