Deborah Boydston Deborah Boydston
Recommendations: 45

In the last sentence of this paragraph you have the phrase "to be able" typed twice in a row.

Deborah Boydston Deborah Boydston
Recommendations: 45

Second sentence " reputed TO have said...."

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Harry Wells Harry Wells
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The Luck of the Irish

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She had a friend.

A reminiscence

I had a fine new bike that year of 1978, a Claud Butler light weight tourer and I decided to have some adventure. However when I planned my solo cycle tour of Southern Ireland I had not included spending any time in a police van handcuffed on one side to a Garda officer and on the other to a ring welded to the van wall and my precious Claud Butler thrown on the floor. My intention was to see Wicklow and then work my way by the Ring of Kerry up to Bally Haunis in County Mayo whence my mother hailed.  I hoped to be able to be able to trace some of her relatives. 1 comment

I had some success and while looking at the Bally Haunis records I found that an ancestor during the time of the great famine had been hanged in 1852 as a 'terrorist'. As former Attorney General Ramsey Clark is reputed have said ‘One person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter’ and I felt proud of him. After all the English were deliberately allowing the Irish to starve to death at the time. A letter of 1854 from the parish priest of Bally Haunis to the British prime minister at the time told how desperate they were in his parish and that they were down to their last cartload of turnips. The letter went unanswered. 1 comment

After disembarking from the Liverpool ferry at Dun Laoghaire my first objective was to ascend the Wicklow Mountains and reach a café by teatime which purported to be the highest such place in Ireland. It was an easy boast really as the whole day passed without my seeing any cafes at all.

As I toiled up the steep hills I came to Glendalough, a beautiful stretch of inland water which soon lost its charm. I was pursued for about two hours by a myriad of gnats engendered by the waters of the lough. The gnat bites began to itch furiously as it came on to rain and I thought ‘Could anything be worse?’  I heard ‘pssst’ and saw that I had a puncture.

I had the repair outfit but decided to walk with the bike the remaining two miles to the fabled café. I was surprised when I did arrive by the sight of a 1950 Pontiac Chieftain classic American car and I decided to have a good look at it when I had seen to the necessities of life. I was the only customer in the cafe so I asked the proprietor who owned the car.

‘That’s a funny thing you should be asking now’, he said. ‘Four fellas left it here the day before yesterday.  Two of them came in that car and waited until another car drove up. Then they all got into the latest one and left the American car behind. I’m thinking I’d better talk to the Garda’.

Since it appeared to be an abandoned car I walked over and sat in the driving seat and generally fooled around like a kid and had a good look around the inside before resuming my labours. Soon I reached the crossroads I was looking for and took the turn off to Leopardstown.

About five miles down the road I was overtaken by a Garda van that stopped about a hundred yards in front. Two Garda officers emerged and waved me to stop. One of them said ‘Get in the van’. This didn’t surprise me because half a dozen times private cars drivers had been stopping ahead to invite me to put my bike in the boot and have a lift. They seemed to be under the impression that nobody would ride a bike unless they were so poor that they had no other means of transport.

‘No, thank you’, I explained to the officers ‘I would rather use my bike’. At this one of them, quick as a flash, slipped handcuffs on me. ‘Now will you get in the car?’ I felt this was more than an invitation.

‘What’s going on? I shouted.

‘Calm down, sir. We just want you to answer a few questions.

At the station an inspector asked me why I was at the café earlier in the day. He was unsatisfied when I told him I’d just gone in for a meal. He was very off hand and I thought ‘Perhaps he must have found out about my many times removed uncle being hanged’.

‘You were showing a lot of interest in the American car’.

‘Yes, I have a sister in America and she used to have a car just like it. I didn’t do anything to damage the car.’

‘What were you looking for in the car?’

‘I was just looking round.’

‘Why were you going to Bally Moss?’

‘I wasn’t.  I was going to Leopardstown.’

‘That’s in the opposite direction’

‘Well, it said Leopardstown on the signpost’.

‘You were caught out there, sir. You see the local youths are in the habit of turning the signposts round, just for a laugh you know.’

‘Oh great!  I said ‘But what has all this to do with me?

At this stage I think the inspector thought that if I was daft enough to let myself be fooled by a couple of Irish signpost twisters then I couldn’t possibly have the brains to have organised a bank raid. He softened up a little and began to tell me.

There had been a bank robbery by the IRA in Tralee Bay on the southern coast and this had been the getaway car. They had driven up to Wicklow, stolen another car and used the café as a car swapping rendezvous.

‘Just the same, what makes you think I might  be involved?’

‘We thought that you had taken part and had come back to retrieve some evidence left in the car’.

‘What, on a bike?

I would let it go at that, sir, if I were you’ said the inspector with a warning look.

He stood up ‘I think we can let you go now sir. Have a good holiday and don’t get into any further trouble’.

‘Further trouble?’  I began angrily but I thought it wiser to keep my mouth shut if I wanted my bike back.

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Next: The Family Man.