The Belly of the Whale


Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Lisdoonvarna Adventure:

So ok.
This was my night in Lisdoonvarna. What brought me to Lisdoon? In a word, a pub, brought me to Lisdoon. My painting instructor and I were talking about my work, how it revolves around pubs and stomachs, things inside other things, alcohol and most of all, interesting people. He told me he's got a friend who runs this pub called the Roadside Tavern. We called the guy up and decided that it would be a good idea if I stayed in the one pub from open to close and just sketch and take in the atmosphere from a single vantage point and see how it changes over time etc. In truth I think it helped. I've been in a deep dark funk associated with the burnt-out feeling of the end of a semester. Anyway.

(my accomadations.)

The guy who ran the place was named Peter. Didnt catch his last name despite him repeating it for me a few times. Apparently he is supposed to be absolutely mad, but unfortunately my interactions with him were very few and on the formal side.

He offered me a room upstairs.

There was a used condom in plain view on the sheets of the unmade bed. Peter either didnt notice it or was too crazy and embarrassed to acknowledge it. Either way I thought it was hilarious. I thanked him for the room and waited for him to close the door behind him before removing the 'glass slipper' as we're calling it, with a yellow pair of rubber gloves I found in the bathroom. (I took a picture because it was just so funny, but I will not be posting it.)

Went back downstairs and Peter bought me a pint and some lunch which was very good. Some conversation before I got settled in by the fire which radiated no heat. (I had to get a cab to Lisdoon, by the way, because everyone in Ballyvaughan gave me a different answer when I asked what time the morning bus came and ended up missing it when it showed up early.) Billy was the name of the man behind the bar. He was older and awful quiet. I wrote this about him: it was a bit inspired by my percieved relationship between him and Peter. Where Billy was very down to earth and reserved, Peter I'd heard, was plain crazy; a scatterbrain and space cadet of he highest rank.

"I wonder how he felt; working for a madman. He'd a weary sort of glare as his eyes met mine, and he silently gestured with a butler's sweep of his arm to the German couple situated next to me as he set a dainty little half pint of Guinness on my coaster. I nodded first to him and then to the beaming red faces of the lady and gentleman who had bought me the drink. We held up our glasses in an awkward toast that spanned two languages, two nationalities and three countries."

(Billy looking more content than he did the entire night.)

The thing here is, only girls drink a half pint of Guinness, and not even the girls drink just a half pint. I dont particularly care myself, but apparently in Ireland if your a man, you'd never be caught dead with a half-pint of Guinness. I thanked the couple graciously and drank it as fast as I could before going to the bar and getting a proper pint. I guess I just thought that was funny. You can argue with me if you want but I wont be interested.

A few hours later and nothing had happened. I'd been working on some sketches but I was getting a bit tired. I went upstairs and endured a broken sleep for 45 minutes on the cold hard floor because the bed had, however unrecently, (judging by the stiffness of the present left behind it'd been there awhile, and indeed the entire upstairs seemed unlived in. There were rooms stacked high with furniture, cardboard boxes. The hallways themselves doubled as storage space.) been soiled.

Fast foward to the night.

I met a nice young couple who were very outgoing and funny. Michelle and Mark, 28 and 31, theyd been together for 11 years and seemed perfectly in love. We talked for most of the night while the live music railed on with the crowd around us. They bought me a drink or two and we went on about our philosophies about life and the universe. we talked about love, hate, violence, loyalty, being Irish. (They and most everyone else I talked to that night insisted I was full blood Irish.) They told me as they left that they werent doing anything in the morning and that they'd be happy to give me a lift back to Ballyvaughan when we woke up, and indeed I ended up in the back of Mark's van, ass atop tool chest and we found our way to my house with sore heads and uneasy stomachs on roads unconducive to such conditions.

Anyway. The folks in that photo up there were great too. A bit younger than me I think. They'd smuggled some vodka into the pub which I thought rude but kept it to myself. They took quite a liking to me really. I gave them a few sketches of them, they bought me a pint and asked if I was a vodka man and I cringed and said not at all. They laughed and Paul, The fella with the hat said I was tonight. So we passed around a glass of vodka and ginger ale. It didnt really do much for me even though they were cringing and making faces. We sang a bunch of songs and they were all thrilled that I knew as many words as they did. They started calling me Donegal Catch, or just Catch for short after some commercial. Donegal is a big fishing area, and true, I look an awful lot like a fisherman though I'm not. Either way, I took it to heart and fell in love with my new name. For some reason it meant a lot to hear them refer to me as Catch with such camaradere, (sp?) We got some great pictures, I'd the time of my life, once again on a solo mission to a strange pub. Hope I dont forget them anytime soon. Extremely open and friendly where in America it feels like you have to know someone before you talk to them. I like it better here anyway.

So the night ended with me having bought less than half my drinks starting out around 1 in the afternoon. I had a comfortable buzz going and I slunked up to bed, willing in my state, to sleep on the very edge of the bed in the fetal position under heavy wool blankets. (I felt hot blankets like they were, they'd had nothing to do with the events that took place in that bed before I got there.) It was simply too cold to sleep on the floor or in the chair again.

In the morning I returned my key and bade Billy a strange enough farewell, (Peter was nowhere to be found,) and stepped outside to meet Mark and Michelle.


(if you read this whole thing I applaud you.)


  1. YYYEEESSS!!!! Best idea ever! Cant wait till i can sift through your work when you get back!!!!!!


  2. (thanks Ms. McC.) erik, there will be great studious times when we are re-united.

  3. Good read. Great idea. Looking forward to seeing around these parts again. Last stretch, finish strong.

  4. ahhhh we need to do this too. we all need to.

    lets do it. group effort.

  5. Well i have enjoyed it throughly, great stuff and content. Hoping for same stuff in your future blogs also.

    Marcus White lisdoonvarna