Tomorrow is the last day for the SuperValu in town. It is closing down for good. It has been closing down for several weeks now. Each time I have been in there were fewer and fewer things on the shelves. Then there were fewer and fewer shelves. The top shelves were removed first and then the bottom shelves were removed. Soon there were three and then only two shelves along a long row with the remaining products lined up. There were large areas along the walls which were completely empty and all of the shelves taken away. The shelves were being sent to another branch of the store in Dublin. We stopped in last Saturday for a few things and the place looked nearly empty and there was still a week to go. The very few customers walked the aisles looking at the very few products for sale and we all commented to one another what a pity it was that the shop would be closed and that yet another shop in the town center would sit empty. Vegetables were spread out in a way to make them look appealing but there were so few of them that they all looked like leftovers. Two older women stood in front of a display of two wheelbarrows which had been brought in to take up some of the empty space. Each barrow was tilted at an angle and there were loose potatoes and some soil in the bottom of each. Not many potatoes and not a lot of soil. The women were happily remembering themselves bringing in potatoes from the field when they were children. After a bit of chat they both agreed that their families had never actually owned wheelbarrows and that the potatoes at home were carried in buckets or baskets but still it was nice to see the wheelbarrows in the shop. One man wandered around and around the aisles with his trolley. Each time he met another person he moaned “Oh, it is a sad day indeed. It is our Last Saturday.”
20 January Wednesday
The rock on the side of the pub has been painted a shiny black. It is painted with the same enamel paint that is around the window frames and on the door. The rock is big. It is about the height of my knee off the ground and as wide as it is tall. It looks like it is growing out of the side of the building. It might be that it was once part of the foundation. Or maybe the building had another section built onto it at one time. That does not really make sense because the road exactly there beside the pub and beside the rock. Where could more of the building have been? Over the years the rock has been painted a different colour each time the pub has been repainted. This shiny black is very nice.
19 January Tuesday
It was a petrol station and like all petrol stations it now sells lots of things besides petrol. Displayed outside along the windowsill were bags of potatoes. There were ten bags all standing at an angle. The bags were from several different producers but all of the potatoes were the same kind of potatoes. They were all Golden Wonders. Only the colour of the bag and the name on the bag offered choice.
18 January Monday
I just cleared a blue tit off the step in front of my room. They are flying in wild sweeps all over the place. The weather is confusing so maybe they think it is springtime in between the very cold nights and the rain. Three times last week I picked up birds who had flown into windows and knocked themselves out. I picked them up gently and placed each one in a sheltered spot under some leafy boughs or on top of a mossy rock. When I checked later they were gone. They had simply been stunned by smashing themselves into glass at speed. The one I gathered up today was dead. There was no soft heartbeat to be felt, and its neck was bent at an impossible angle.
17 January Sunday
It is not uncommon to hold a funeral on a Sunday. We were walking up from Molough when a car stopped. A man rolled down the window and told us he was looking for the funeral of Betty Something. We did not recognize the name. We knew of no one named Betty who had just died. He gave us a second surname. Maybe the second name was her married name or maybe the first name was her married name and the second one he told us was her maiden name. Neither of the names meant anything to either of us. She was obviously local or had been from the area originally. He was looking for the church where the funeral was being held. He said it was the church at Knocklofty. We knew there was no church at Knocklofty and we told him that. Simon suggested Tullameghlan because there is a very small old graveyard there but no church. The man was pleased. He said ‘Yes that is the place. That is the name. How can I get there?’ It was not easy to give directions from where we were standing. I do not think I could have done it. Simon gave the man careful instructions. A little while later we had finished our walk and we drove down to buy the newspapers. We detoured around some tractor activity so we ended up on the Knocklofty road ourselves. On passing the tiny Church of Ireland there were people were standing outside. We saw the man who had asked for directions. We had not given him directions to that church which is called Tullameghlan Church because we had forgotten that it is spoken of as Tullameghlan Church or maybe we never knew that because the church is not anywhere near the Tullameghlan graveyard. There is no sign that says Tullameghlan Church. Had he said that Betty was a Protestant we would have known that the funeral must be at that church. It is the only Church of Ireland church in the area. Since we did not know Betty, we had no way to know that she was a Protestant.
16 January Saturday
The one hundred year anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising has been discussed and planned for and anticipated for ages and ages now. The whole of 2015 was a build-up to the events taking place this year to commemorate The Rising. There are references to The Rising everywhere we go. Jim said something to me today and then he saw my blank face. I did not understand what he was saying. I did not understand at all. He said “Sorry sorry— It’s okay. I was only Rising you!” Then I was even more confused. I have gotten so used to The Rising being always and only about 1916 that I forgot about Rising being another word for teasing.
15 January Friday
An old man stood in the little entry porch of the shop. His wool jacket was wet with rain but the rain mostly sat on top of the wool in drops. The jacket had a lot of grease and lanolin on it, especially down the front where his hands had been wiped again and again. It shone black with the oiliness of whatever was on it. There was no way water could seep into the wool. The man did not lift his head. He was very stooped over and his head looked down at the floor. Each time someone walked in, he shook his head from left to right and intoned ‘Desperate Day. A Desperate Day altogether. Desperate.’ He repeated this in the direction of every single person who entered the shop, even though the rain was merely a drizzle and not at all desperate by local standards. To each person leaving the shop he said ‘Mind How You Go’ and he nodded his head up and down while he said it. He repeated these two things again and again. Desperate. Desperate Day. Mind How You Go. Desperate Day Altogether. Mind How You Go. Since there are never people going in nor leaving at the same time he did not get confused with his head wagging for one comment and nodding for the other. Nor did he confuse the two greetings.