There is a deliciously biting scene in the movie ‘Wilde’ in which Constance, Oscar’s wife, seeks advice regarding her husband’s wayward attachment to Lord Alfred Douglas.
In imperious tones, Lady Mount-Temple – voicing one of the movie’s central motifs by means of contrast – dismisses Bosie’s indigent, entitled life and his general inability to create anything from anything.
‘The empire wasn’t built by people like Bosie Douglas’.
The man standing in front of me was a fit and clear-eyed Corkman, perhaps in his late fifties. His manner was unassuming, deriving its charisma from restraint. His movements were measured, his language practical and, at every turn, he wished to help me just a bit more. He was a man who couldn’t do enough.
I bonded with the multi-tasking Postmaster of Góilín on the subject of coffee. From behind his shop counter, away from the Post Office teller position, he gently tapped a large, freshly baked wedding cake from its tin, and agreed with me that coffee really is best enjoyed black and filtered.
The air itself had calorific content, such was the deliciousness of his Post Office aromas.
It was early Saturday morning and we gabbed away freely whilst I searched for a telephone number from his directory, simultaneously sipping coffee and eating a freshly baked croissant.
I mentioned my plan to go out to Mizen Head, some 10km to the south west.
Mizen, he said. Mizen is worth a visit.
In a nonchalant manner he described the detail of what I might find there. A visitor centre, a new bridge spanning the rocks to the old lighthouse quarters, a state-of-the-art simulator to recreate the experience of docking a ship, a café…
He took the directory from me and hunted out the telephone number I sought.
I helped create the place, he said, casually.
Really?, I exclaimed, intrigued by such a coincidence.
Myself and three friends. There was nothing there. It’s our Land’s End and there was nothing there.
The Postmaster of Góilín recounted how they rented the land around Mizen from Irish Lights, augmented the property with land contributions from local farmers, and slowly built the now famous tourist destination. First a car park, then the visitor experience, then the café, then the reconstructed bridge.
I was chairman for ten years. I’m only vice-chair for the last five, he smiled. It was hard work. You’ll like Mizen.
Lacking a phone signal, as was usual for me, he made the call to book my accommodation for the day’s end. He was a man who could not do enough.
I left his Post Office, a tiny empire of calm and creativity and care, feeling well-fed, well-informed and well-organised.
I simply could not wait to arrive at Mizen Head, to see all that he had imagined, all that he had built, and from nothing, nothing at all.
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.