Turn Left at The Master McGrath

by ericavanhorn

6 May Friday

It has been raining, sometimes hard and sometimes gently, all day long. The rain has been washing the wall. Yesterday we asked our neighbors if their walls and windows looked like ours. We were standing in front of the east wall of the house, just outside the kitchen door, when we asked the question. The wall was splattered with bird droppings. The excrement was white and splashed as though from a great height or at great speed. Or both. There were lashings of it all over the windows and all over the walls. It was not a few instances of excrement. It was a massive amount. The whole wall suggested an explosion. The neighbors looked at our wall in disbelief. There is no such explosion happening at their house. Not on any walls.

7 May Saturday

I sat in the car waiting for someone to arrive on the bus from Cork. I was early and the bus was late, so my wait was longer than normal. A man came and sat himself on the wall in the sun. As soon as he sat down he took off his right boot. He waved his leg around a bit and then he just rested his stocking foot on top of his other foot. He talked to himself the whole time. I was too far away to hear what he said but some of it was funny, because he laughed often.

8 May Sunday

The rain did not really do much towards cleaning off the white splashes of bird droppings. It wet some of the guano and diluted it a little so that the whole mess dripped and dribbled down the wall and across the windows. There were seventy or eighty splashes of excrement on a wall that is only nine metres long. Maybe there were one hundred splashes. This afternoon Simon got out a mop and scrubbed the wall. His theory is that if he cleans the wall at the peak of these seasonal droppings, he will not need to do it again. I am not certain that we have reached the peak yet, but for the moment things look less like a disaster area.

9 May Monday

I heard John telling the woman to Turn Left at The Master McGrath.  McGrath, as always, was pronounced McGraw, as if there were a W at the end of the word and not a TH. This is how the name is always pronounced. The woman was confused. She knew she needed to drive on the Clonmel road all the way to the junction with the Cappoquin road just outside Dungarvan but she had no idea who Master McGrath was nor how she would recognize him. The Master McGrath Monument is easy to miss. It is a relief carving of the most famous greyhound in the country. The relief is centered on a stone obelisk. The monument is not huge and it is set back from the road but it is completely visible if you are looking for it. This dog won many races. He won the Waterloo Cup three times. When he died in 1871, the monument was erected to honor him, first at his birthplace and later it was moved to its present location so that more people could see it. There are many people who do not know anything about his celebrated history but they know exactly what to do if they are told to take a left at The Master McGrath.

10 May Tuesday

My right foot is still a problem, but now I know why. It is fractured. The X-rays do not lie. I am required to wear a big Velcro boot. And I need crutches, or at least one crutch to go anywhere at all. The cumbersome nature of the boot knocks me off balance. I bump into things a lot because I am not used to my foot being so large.

11 May Wednesday

The wild garlic is in bloom. The white blossoms look like little star explosions. The blossoms taste just as good as the leaves but they are more exciting to look at. When the flowers have finished blooming, the leaves will start to die back and that will be the end of wild garlic for another year. It is already getting harder to find it because it is disappearing underneath the cow parsley.  By the time the cow parsley dies back the wild garlic will be gone.

12 May Thursday

The whole country has gone mad. It is the time of First Holy Communions. As I am not a Catholic, this frenzy take me by surprise every year. I forget that it is an enormous part of local life. None of this activity took place during the lock-down years. Everything was cancelled which caused many people to bemoan the absence of the ritual. The radio was full of the crisis. There were endless discussions about the unfairness and the hardship of it all on the talk shows. Now it is all happening again. As a result, it is impossible to get an appointment for a haircut. The hairdresser said she is flat-out and she is working several evenings to try and keep up with the demand. People are cleaning their houses, mowing their lawns and all of their windows must be washed, inside and out. Visits are scheduled with the Dental Hygienist. New clothes are purchased for the participating children as well as for their parents.  It is difficult not to overhear conversations about the application of fake tans. It is imperative to look good in all of the photographs. Cars must be washed. Parties are organized and Bouncy Castles are a must-have for these parties. Gifts must be bought or envelopes full of money must be given. I hear people announcing with great excitement that they have to go to several of these parties in one weekend. The pressure is enormous, not just for the children but for the entire community.

14 May Saturday

I do not really know this woman. I do not know her name. I meet her at the market most Saturdays and we chat about small things like the weather and about how busy the market is or is not. Sometimes we comment about a fine looking cake or the new cheese stall. Today she started to talk and it was like a faucet had been turned on. I was not moving fast because of my crutches. I was unable to move away with ease or speed. She told me about her hysterectomy many years ago and how it had left her damaged for life. She declared that a woman’s life is too hard from beginning to end. It was a completely depressing conversation. She said that she now has nothing in her life except family and her ailments and her grief—(Dead husband. Dead son. Dead siblings. Dead grand-daughter) and now, I learn she has this seething anger about being a woman. She was happy to see me and to stand and talk in the cold sunshine. She said she finds the Saturday market a high point of her week. I found it grueling but I tried hard to be cheerful inside the conversation for her sake.

15 May Sunday

Silage cutting is in full flow. The sound of tractors and other machinery in the distance and in every direction is constant. The sound of the repetitive work continues late into the night. The farmers are all taking advantage of the good weather to get their first cut in.