I sauntered out, in Kinsale, with a lost & found leopard print umbrella held aloft.
‘It’s a bit girlie but I think you can pull it off’, blushed Alice in reception.
I thanked her for her confidence.
Rain is my constant companion these past two days. It has the power to render a man refreshed, but also weary.
I am a latecomer to the reading of the skies, and I find that my apprenticeship is not yet complete.
My ability to predict exactly when rain will start falling is pretty accurate – one of the few skills where a sense of touch trumps the eye or ear. A drop in temperature felt on the cheek; a slight down draught of gusty wind with just enough force to be intentional. Visually, this shift is supported by a certain shade of dark grey (gun metal, perhaps, lying on an undercoat of darkest green).
A downpour is upon me.
All of this I can forecast to less than 15 seconds – a talent motivated by self interest. Finding cover from such a flash shower takes about 15 seconds, and a drenching lingers.
I am less adept at mist as it has many forms and, I believe, acts differently on the Atlantic coast to what I am used to from the Wicklow hills.
Mist can be a joy when it is merely spittle; it freshens and quickly departs. But in the south its character is liable to change. When I see oncoming traffic with wipers going like ninety, I know I’m in for it. Suddenly, misty becomes manky.
Odd but true, manky mist is the wettest rain of all. It arrives in insipid, weak-willed trajectories – it will not bounce off you but rather cling to you – and falls at a density per cubic centimetre that would make a Killibegs fisherman cry out for his mother.
Manky mist was today’s serving from the gods and it was less than joyful to behold.
About 10km outside of Kinsale, on the back roads of the back roads, I was picked up by a very young poodle-type dog who insisted on running with me as I cycled.
Max was bursting with energy and delighted beyond measure to find a friend. Being as yet unfamiliar with loyalty, he seemed a fair-weather friend in the extreme, bounding behind every car that passed.
I became master because I was the only vehicle he could keep up with.
The problem was, Max wouldn’t go home. As the kilometres clocked up his coat became dark brown with the muck.
Max, I shouted through the mist, go the fuck home!
Max wasn’t going anywhere. A truck approached and I called him to my side. To my surprise, he followed that order pretty well.
I was considering dropping him into the Garda station in Kinsale when I came upon a pair of builders working on a restoration job 2 km outside of the town. There was a giant gate between the property and the road.
So, we made a deal that they would keep him, give him water, and I’d call the number engraved on his collar – alongside ‘Max’ – once I found a dastardly signal, that elusive West Cork commodity.
At length, Max was sorted. When done, I suddenly felt the rain again. Misty manky rain; insipid; dense.
I arrived to Kinsale – way off my target mileage – and spontaneously decided to give up the ghost for the day.
Max had worked his magic, but now this man was wet and weary.
Only to be lifted into glamour, some two hours later, by a chance encounter with a leopard.
Brian McIntyre. August 2013.
About Rothar Republic
My name is Brian McIntyre. During late July and August 2013 I am cycling the coast and borders of the Republic of Ireland, and using the opportunity to raise money for charity (The Peter McVerry Trust).
In the lead-up to the 100th anniversary of 1916, I’m interested to see how our little country is doing. Cycling its perimeter, observing and talking to its people, is my own way of taking the lie of the land.
I figure this is a 28 day-long expedition covering about 2,500km.
All monies go directly to the Peter McVerry Trust which supports young homeless people in Dublin to break the cycle of homelessness and move towards independent living.
If easier, consider sending me a pledge through private message.