In 1997 myself and my fiancé set off on our first holiday as a newly engaged couple. We had only been going out a year but as he was practically the boy next door. I knew I was in safe hands. I wasn’t wrong as we have recently celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary.
We landed in Santa Ponsa, and we gave it some welly for two weeks. Late nights, early mornings and the most monstrous hangovers known to man (Of course, I blamed the heat)
The Saturday we were flying home, Offaly were in the Leinster Football final against Meath. The problem we had was the bus was due to pick us up at half time to make it back to the airport. My man being a lifelong GAA “Faithful “supporter he wasn`t happy with that arrangement but there was nothing we could do to change it.
That lunchtime we piled into the Dubliner bar across from our hotel and settled in at the front. The best seats in the house. The game started and there wasn’t a sound. Were we the only Offaly supporters in the place? Then Offaly scored and the place erupted, it was just like being at home. Half of Clara appeared on the big screen at each following score. The atmosphere was electric. With a heavy heart we left the merriment behind at half time and dragged ourselves out on to the bus, consoling ourselves that at least we`d be home in time for the local night club, whether congratulations or commiserations were in store.
We had lined up at the check in desk. Six lanes down there was a Meath supporter, he was dressed in all the regalia, a green and yellow cowboy hat, county jersey and woolen ties on anywhere he could secure them, from the handles of his bag to the belt loops on his jeans. We christened him Meath Man.
The queue seemed to take forever, shuffling forth an inch at a time. The final score foremost in our thoughts and dominating the conversation.
“It`s full time now” Shane said after checking his watch for the millionth time. “Would she ever hurry up `til I get to the payphone.”
Meath Man left his spot and made his way towards the toilets. Shane caught sight of him reemerging and clutched my arm.
“We`re after beating them”
“How do you know? We haven’t got to ring home yet.”
“Look, he’s after taking off his colours,”
True, Meath Man had come back and not a county colour to be seen. He had even taken off his jersey but did that really mean anything.
How we willed that queue to speed up. We ran into departures, straight to the nearest payphone and poured all our coins into it. The sound was like a jackpot payout from a slot machine. The phone ate up the coins so quick.
Yes, Offaly were Leinster champions, now all we had to do was get on the plane home to celebrate.
We made our way to the departure gate and caught sight of the monitor. Dublin …delayed. (It would be five hours before we touched down on home soil.) Heartbroken and actually broke as we hadn`t a shilling left between us, We shared a limp ham roll and a lone cane of coke, dreaming of fresh Brennan`s bread and a decent cup of tea. We eventually touched down in Dublin at three am the following morning. My father and his best friend Tony were waiting to collect us. They had been hanging round the airport in Dublin for hours as they hadn’t checked Aertel before leaving home.
As we made our weary way down to Clara, the detritus of a good night lay before us. Flags still fluttered in the night air. Bodies lay slumped outside pubs and chippers in both Enfield and Kinnegad. Fast food wrappers gathered in piles, bottles and pint glasses lay abandoned on paths and windowsills. We finally reached Clara and the similar dregs of the celebrations were left. A few stragglers were still singing the Offaly Rover in the Green Field, as dawn lightened the sky. At that stage, we were just happy to get home and fall into bed. Tomorrow the celebrating would continue.
At that time Offaly hurling and football were on the crest of a wave. In fact, with the footballers in Croke Park one week and the hurlers in the week after, we nearly ended up bankrupt. Conway’s pub and the Big Tree could have charged us rent. As could, Coyne’s of Kinnegad, where we would stop on the way home. One of our finer moments came when we accosted the late great Liam Reilly of Bagatelle and drunkenly implored him to sing us a song. He duly obliged, we thanked him, sang him a couple of verses of Oh Holy Night and sent him on his way. (You wouldn`t get away with that now).
(c) Karen Slammon
Whisperings is a compilation of Poetry and Prose written by thirteen members of her writing group, Wordsmiths Tullamore.
A miscellany of prose, poetry and memories. Most of the titles will have been drawn from writing prompts given and selected in Creative Writing Class and group presentation.
The authors are a diverse and eclectic group, writing to many different genres and topics. Some are novice writers, some at more advanced stages and eager for their work to find its own literary trajectory.
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