We’re excited to host a guest post on the Adroyt blog by world traveler, Darcy Brisbin. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a minor in English. After working for several years in the Big Apple she has resumed her place in sunny southern California where she works for real estate mogul CBRE Inc. Today’s tale comes from her stop in Ireland on a two-month tour of Europe.
My obsession with sheep started in Wishford, England, heading toward Salisbury to see the occult Stonehenge site. I had the strongest of urges to sink my fingers deep into their wool in search of a lamby scalp. But in the English countryside I never got close enough and the time quickly came to depart for the Emerald Isle. A few days later, I boarded the J.J. Kavanaugh bus from County Cork to Dingle when I found myself Googling “consequences of bear-hugging a wild sheep,” and knew I had a problem.
While I waited for my connection at Tralee I gazed up at the rolling hills chock full of those fluffy mallow-forms when, the next thing I knew, the bus ejected me at the last stop on the threshold of the Dingle Peninsula. I had yet to book accommodations here and after six weeks of traveling, the task beyond exhausted me. I grabbed my 82-kilogram suitcase and, with Dingle Harbor on my left and the town of Dingle on my right, began my search for a bed, sadly noting that this small fishing village didn’t seem a likely place for a shepherd to settle with his flock. There were B&B advertisements everywhere but a “no vacancy” sign dangled from most; it was off-season and the town was desolate. I curved along the harbor in search of availability, like Mary in search of an inn. My penchant for sheep not withstanding, I would have been wildly grateful for a back alley stable.
About two kilometers down the road, I wheeled my Samsonite up a long driveway to a peach colored abode. Before I was able to ring the bell a June Cleaver doppelgänger with craggy teeth opened the door. “Welcome,” she said, making room for the burdensome bag and myself to enter. The walls of the interior were the same peach color as the exterior; June sure did like her clingstone. She introduced herself as Vivienne and I responded in kind. It took me all of 12 seconds to deduce she was single, had never married, had no children, and probably had never left the Peninsula. Nonetheless, my room was meticulous: The bed was made comfortably in another cove of peach but views of the bay and the Kelly green hills beyond were stunning. I dropped my bags, recharged my MacBook and, nomadically hard up for clean clothes, began searching for a laundromat in Dingle. Grabbing my umbrella, key, a handful of Euros, and a backpack of bedraggled skivvies, I set out the way I came.
The town was unique in that every shop functioned as another shop. The teahouse was also a bike rental; Benny’s Bar doubled as a hardware store; the laundromat teamed up with the gas station. I dropped off my wash with a middle-aged man named Mike and though highly uncomfortable with a small-town-stranger’s alone time with my unmentionables, I had been told he cornered the laundering market. What was my alternative? In a thick Gaelic accent he warned me to return before half past six and if I was looking for a nicely pulled pint, to try Dick Mac’s Pub. I headed up Goat Street where the visitor’s center advised me I could find an old Abbey established by the Presentation Sisters with fabulous stained glass by Harry Clark. Seeing a flock of people headed in the same direction, I began to follow closely.
Literally on the coattails of some well-dressed biddies I entered a building, which I believed to be the Abbey, only to find myself paying respects to the late John Scanlon. But squeezed into a narrow church pew, I was unable to avoid it. Dressed in hiking gear with an Eddie Bauer backpack I stood out like a sore thumb but couldn’t find a respectful escape. I kept my head down and powered through memorials, hymns, and more than a few choking sobs when I eventually dodged out an emergency exit.
I finally arrived at my desired destination and followed the story of Nano Nagle in murals by an American artist named Eleanor Yeats. Slightly older than myself, Yeats was commissioned a few years back to paint the story of Nagle, an aristocrat-turned-humanitarian whose legend is renowned throughout the town. But sadly that is where all personal comparison ended; there were no further poignant parallels in our lives.
I retired to the Goat Street Café for a café Americano and to finish my traveling copy of the The Dubliners, the cover of which had been torn off to avoid platitude. While not as difficult a read as Ulysses—mainly due to brevity—Ol’ Jimmy had me confounded again with his deeply rooted Irish vernacular and prose. Fully immersed in my Gaelic experience, I headed over to Dingle’s pub, Dick Mac’s. About two heady crafts in, none other than launderer Mike strolled in. I pulled out my reading again to shield from further interaction and was quickly approached by another gentlemen, formally dressed in a suit, who inquired about what I was reading. Blushing, I dodged the question and asked if he was a local.
He was indeed! His name was David and he was a farmer. My ears pricked up immediately. Did he have any sheep that needed sheering or hugging? Though he owned a flock of around 300, he explained, it was not quite sheep shearing season. My childish disappointment revealed my torrid curiosity and, witnessing how heartbroken I was, he conceded his pet ewe, Andrew, could afford a haircut. I excitedly began plotting a time we were both available for a date with Andrew.
Somewhere around my fifth pint, I got around to finally asking why my new friend David was so dressed up for a farmer. “Oh, I’ve come straight from a funeral,” he said nonchalantly. “My father’s actually—John Scanlon—and a good man he was.”