Day 46: Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose

Tralee is a city of about 23,000 people at the head of Tralee Bay. It is located at the end of an ancient road that leads over the Slieve Mish Mountains. Though the city is located on the bay, its port is a few miles away at the village of Fenit. The city is probably best known for the nineteenth century ballad called The Rose of Tralee and the 1942 film of the same name. Every August, there is a Rose of Tralee Festival that features a competition (i.e. a beauty contest) in which women from around the world vie for the title of “Rose of Tralee.”

There are numerous archeological sites in the area, including towers and ring forts. Laetitia and her group spent the morning and early afternoon visiting several of them. At the pub late that afternoon, Laetitia asked the bartender about the Rose of Tralee Festival. After a brief description of the festival in August, he told her about another “Rose of Tralee,” who was the subject of a tale his grandfather told him.

A man who his grandfather knew had been the manager and front man for a faith healer who traveled around the British Isles holding tent shows. When the faith healer died, the manager was left with no job and the tent. Soon after that, he fortuitously met a woman in a Dublin pub, who claimed her name was Aphrodite, and, after a few drinks, took him back to her flat and showed him the red rose tattooed on her lower belly, among other things.

There is a Greek legend that the rose was originally white, until Aphrodite pricked her finger with it and bled onto the blossoms. This Aphrodite was neither a Greek goddess nor from Tralee, but she became “Aphrodite, The Rose of Tralee,” in an itinerant tent strip show. The show mostly toured the fishing communities around the coast and did come to Tralee a few times. One drawback to the tent was that once all eyes were on the stage, it was easy to sneak in under the flaps. This story became Laetitia’s limerick of the day.

A stripper, “The Rose of Tralee,”
Would show her tattoo for a fee
And most boys went fishin’
To raise the admission
But some tried to sneak in for free.

Day 45: Bitchin’

Stradbally is a small County Kerry village in the midst of farm country. Like most places on the Dingle Peninsula, it has a nice beach nearby. When Laetitia and her group arrived, they walked on the beach first and later went to a sheep farm to watch border collies in action herding sheep. The border collie demonstration was an event arranged for tour groups, so there was a multitude of tourists there in addition to Laetitia’s group. A conversation between two local farmers gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

A sheep farmer learned it was folly
To keep an unspayed border collie
Who, in heat, ran away
From the sheep flock to play
With the male dogs who lived in Stradbally.

Day 44: Taxidermy

There are a number of towns called Ballyquin in Ireland. Laetitia and her group visited the one on the Dingle Peninsula that has a red sand beach nearby that is frequented by fishermen. In addition to the beach, the group visited a few stone forts and some standing stone sites. Back at the pub, the loquacious bartender told a rather rude story about a local undertaker and his wife. It was unverifiable, as all of these stories are, but Laetitia turned it into the limerick of the day.

When the man who embalmed old McCloud
Found the derelict grandly endowed
He removed the male part
For the taxiderm art
As a trophy of which he’d be proud.

One fine night as it hung in his den
And his wife, on a whim, wandered in
Her jaw dropped as she said,
“Oh my God, McCloud’s dead”
Or so goes the tale in Ballyquin.

Day 43: Frump Rump

Ballyferriter is located in a green valley between Croaghmarhin Hill and the jagged peaks of Sybil Head and The Three Sisters. The village has a museum with a bookstore, a shop, a café, a hotel, a school, a barracks, a Catholic church, and three pubs. Nearby is a two-mile stretch of white sand beach called Béal Bán.

In Laetitia’s group were three young French women from Nice, who were hoping that nude sunbathing on Béal Bán could be included in the day’s itinerary. While Laetitia had no problem personally with nude sunbathing, the practice is illegal in Ireland. She had heard of a beach called “Forty Foot Leap” near Dublin, where the ban is “more honor’d in the breach than the observance,” but was unaware of that being the case at Béal Bán. Since the rest of her group showed no enthusiasm for the idea, Laetitia had to decline, and the women left the tour.

This discussion took place in the pub where they were having lunch. After the French women left, the bartender told the group a story about a local woman named Deirdre who decided to flaunt the ban and sunbath nude. She wasn’t arrested, but quite a few people from the town seemed to have business that took them to the area of the beach where she was sunbathing, and her figure and body art soon became the subject of town gossip. This tale gave rise to Laetitia’s limerick of the day.

When Deirdre decided to bare it, her
Nude rump scandalized Ballyferriter
For t’was rather obese
And was tattooed with geese
And, some said, a blot on her character.