Day 90: Alien Amor

Lisdoonvarna, in County Clare, is a spa town of fewer than 1,000 people most of the year. In September, 40,000 singles from all over the world go there for the annual Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. Some obviously go there seeking a mate for life, others perhaps a mate for just an evening or two, and still others, married or single, just for a good time. The festival features traditional Irish music and dance, horseracing, and speed dating. There is also a contest to choose Mr. Lisdoonvarna, the most eligible bachelor, and the Queen of the Burren, the most eligible bachelorette.

Laetitia and her group were standing in a crowd in Lisdoonvarna listening to a ceili band when a disheveled middle-aged American woman came running through the crowd yelling something about an alien. The news spread, and a crowd rapidly surrounded her, but Laetitia was able to get close to hear what she was saying. Her story was that she had left the main area of the festival in search of a loo and had found herself in a secluded place where she encountered an alien. He touched her in such a way that that she was unable to resist his advances. The woman, who said she was Lorna from Spring Valley, Wisconsin, described the experience as cosmic, though horrifying, and said she needed a drink. Several men rushed forward for the honor, and she left with one of them.

Her account was presented in a very convincing manner. She didn’t seem like the kind of down-to-earth person who would just make something up and many in the crowd believed her story. There were comments like, “Wow, this festival is more popular than I thought; imagine drawing folks from other planets.” However, others were skeptical. Laetitia also heard questions such as, “Does she mean an alien from outer space or just some other country?” Next to Laetitia was a man with a broad grin on his face. When Laetitia asked him why, he said, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from Elmwood, Wisconsin. Spring Valley isn’t far away. Each July, Elmwood has a UFO festival. She does this act there every summer. It usually gets her a free drink or two and sometimes a man for the evening.” Laetitia thanked him; he and Lorna had given her the limerick of the day.

Though most knew it likely a yarn, a
Wild rumor engulfed Lisdoonvarna
Of the alien abduction
And cosmic seduction
Of a matronly lady named Lorna.

Day 89: Quay of Love

Though is not located right on the ocean, Miltown Malbay has been a seaside resort town since the Victorian era. Malbay, which is near the town, is named for a fairy from Irish folklore named Mal, who is said to have washed ashore after drowning while attempting to perfect her long-jumping skills.

Malbay is adjacent to Spanish Point, named for the sailors from the wrecked Spanish Armada who washed ashore there. The local clans killed most of those who were stranded on the beaches, but a few clan chiefs saw value in adding trained military men to their contingent of men-at-arms and kept them alive. Some believe that these were the ancestors of the Black Irish, who have racial characteristics similar to those of southern Europeans, but modern genetic research has been unable to verify this.

Laetitia and her group did some beach and cliff walks, arriving at a local pub for pre-dinner drinks in late afternoon. A story from the bartender of a local woman who always managed to be on the quay in nearby Lahinch when the fishing fleet came in on payday was the source of the day’s limerick.

A young strumpet from Miltown Malbay
Was enamored with love on the quay
To the sailors’ delight
When they came home at night
With a penchant for spending their pay.

She followed the limerick with a disclaimer. “I used a bit of license. ‘Quay’ is pronounced as though it were ‘key’ and rhymes with ‘Malbay’ and ‘pay’ by eye but not by ear.” In her defense, she submitted that T. S. Eliot had done something similar in Growltiger’s Last Stand from Ol’ Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The last two lines of the first verse are:

From Gravesend up to Oxford he pursued his evil aims,
Rejoicing in his title of the Terror of the Thames.

She said, “Most English people pronounce ‘Thames’ as though it were ‘Tems’ or ’Tamms,’ not as though it rhymes with ‘games.’” If a real poet like T. S. Eliot can use such license, so can I.”

Day 88: Minch Stench

Lahinch is a colorful seaside town in County Clare. Laetitia and her group toured the ruin of nearby Dough Castle, built in the fourteenth century. It was a stronghold first for the O’Connor Clan and later the O’Briens. Today, what remains of the former tower house stands on a rocky knoll above the River Inagh overlooking the fairway of the Lahinch Golf Course. The Old Course at Lahinch, with its stunning views of the ocean, is rather famous, and it turned out that those who came on the day’s tour were golfers who wanted to play the course. Laetitia made the appropriate arrangements and stopped at the clubhouse bar for a Guinness.

The bartender had several interesting stories, but the one that became the limerick of the day was about a young local woman who met a young fellow named Lynch in a waterfront pub and found him very attractive. He had sailed up from Bantry on his 30-foot sloop and was planning to sail north, pass through the Minch, loop around the Outer Hebrides, and return home. He was sailing alone, and he invited the young woman to go with him. It all seemed very romantic and she quickly agreed. However, after a few days at sea, the romance began to wear thin. The sea was so rough that they couldn’t swim, and they had enough water on board for drinking and cooking but not for bathing. Personal hygiene was very important to this young woman, and soon she was eager to get home.

A romantic young wench from Lahinch
Sailed the Minch with a fellow named Lynch
But found they couldn’t bathe
And though love she did crave
She could not bear to clench for the stench.

Day 87: Arboreal Tryst?

Kilkee is a seaside town in County Clare. Though they are not as well-known as the Cliffs of Moher, near Kilkee are cliffs that are just as spectacular, with some lovely stretches of sandy beach. Laetitia and her group spent the day doing beach and cliff walks. Laetitia usually made it a point in Ireland to go to a pub sometime in late afternoon before going to dinner. The gossip she picked up at pubs was unreliable, but sometimes made for interesting limericks. Today’s offering is one such example.

When a randy colleen from Kilkee
Was desirous of sex in a tree
Said her boyfriend young Earl,
“I ain’t no bloody squirrel,”
And “you’d best let that idea be.”