Second Friday in and we were all back at Bantry Market. It was less busy than the previous week but every year there seem to be more stalls finding space for themselves amongst the displays of ancient farm equipment, pub paraphernalia and dodgy DVDs.
We made our way slowly to the corner where the food stalls are and bought bread, olives, small mozzarella balls in olive oil and sun dried tomato and cheeses, including a great hard chunk of Desmond cheese. I was particularly pleased with the Desmond as I thought they had stopped making it.
I bought salami and chorizo from the Gubbeen stall and a small round smoked ham
After a dispiriting trawl round the SuperValu to make good on essentials there was time for a quick couple of pints for which we chose to go to Ma Murphy’s. It is a shop pub with a room at the front with shelves for bottles of beer and chocolate and then through an old and battered yellow door into the bar.
As we sat drinking the owner came in and thanked us for our custom as it now meant he was able to buy the two new wheels he was needing for his car. He let slip that he really needed a full set of four so it seemed churlish not to order another round.
We had some difficulty placing his accent and so we asked him.
‘Swansea. South Wales I am from and now you will be asking how I ended up here. Well my parents were from Cork. They were both born on Clear Island and they moved then to Swansea. When we were children we came back for the summers. Can you imagine it then for a seven year old. There were no cars on the Island but for one taxi. There was no electricity and the toilet was outside and mostly we got about on a horse. But we spent all our time on the outside there and it was a place to spend time when growing up. Then I married a girl from Dublin and we came here to live and I worked the bar here for six years until I had enough money to buy it. That was thirty two years ago and I am still here. So there you have it.’
With that he thanked us again for our custom and walked into the back of the pub.
We ate our lunch outside in the garden watching the weather come in down the bay. We could see it in great sheets of rain and we took bets on if it would pass or if we would have to run inside. There were moments when a small break would appear in the clouds and the sun would shine on a patch of water and one of the kids told us that that was where Jesus should appear. The rain then came and it came in great heavy drops that were so thick they soaked us to the skin even as we ran the short distance to come inside.
After it cleared I went fishing for mackerel. They came as soon as I put the line into the water. There were six on the one line all fighting against each other and the pull of the hook. As I hauled them into the boat a couple of them got looses and slapped their way across the bottom of the boat. I unhooked the rest and then took each of them in turn in my left hand and with my right holding the priest I tapped them still on the back of the head. Holding them so tight I could feel through my fingers the press of blood through their bodies.
I then had another four as soon as the line went into the water and in the space of fifteen minutes I had twenty or so fish in the green bucket.
We had some of them on the beach that evening cooked on the barbeque together with a plate of prawns, split and cooked in garlic and olive oil. That was then followed with a paella cooked by Hugh on the fire on the beach.
As we ate we watched gannets over Kitchen Cove. They were close in diving between the boats to get at the fish.
Writing this now in the café in The Heron Gallery to whom many thanks should go for their good coffee and the use of Wi-fi!!