Last Sunday, I travelled early to East County Galway for the 20th “Potato Fleadh”, organised by my friends Caitlín and Pádraig Rua. Known across the Isle of Ireland as the “Fleá na bPratai”, it is a candid and warm gathering of friends or gathered friendships, a fertile ground for strong family ties; an illustrated analogy surrounding the peaceful cottage, could be the hundreds of acres of bog land, layers and layers of wild colourful growth, in a perfectly tuned cycle. Like I said, I left early, the boot of the car full of craft beers and cheese… I love visiting my hosts bearing gifts. I selected a few tunes for the road, from Bob Dylan to Blind Willie Johnson in order to set the mood; anxious to make a grand appearance, I put on my recently purchased GAA Gaelic Football Brittany Team Jersey on. They had been invited and qualified to play in the International Gaelic Games this week in Dublin… A proud moment for Hungry Breton! I could picture all their faces now, the reactions! Singing along with Blind Willie Johnson on the speaker phones of the car while flicking the gear stick on fourth; “The rain don’t fall on me”…. How optimistic was I?
Summer 1995, Galway; I guess this could be the sequel to the “Fleá na bPratai” story. Having moved a couple of months before to the City of Tribes, I had tried to work in some of the multiple cafés and small “restaurants” the town had to offer, without too much luck. Lack of confidence and experience in the domain surely played a role in my misfortune, but believe it or not, the summer that year was so hot, that there was very little trade during day time. Our landlord Mícheál was a nice guy, he popped in sometimes for a cuppa – and to pick up the rent- , a former Irish Army Peace Keeper, a “Blue Helmet” with squinting blue eyes; he would suss you out, like a Blade Runner before you could even open your mouth.
– “I hear you are finding it hard to get a job in our fine City; how are you on a ladder?”