Day 94: Lawn Faun

Ballyvaughan is a picturesque fishing and farming village in County Clare on the south shore of Galway Bay. It isn’t far from Burren National Park, so Laetitia went to the park with her group again. Indeed, there is enough in the park to fill many days’ worth of excursions.

Later, at a local pub, Laetitia sat at the bar next to a grey-haired man who said he was a retired professor from the local art college. He was a widower, and told her he found life a bit dull, except on moonlit nights. Laetitia waited for him to say, “Then I change into a werewolf” or something similar, but instead he told a story. “One night, right after I had gone to bed, I heard what I thought were pan pipes—something like Papageno plays in Mozart’s Magic Flute. I looked through the expanse of lawn behind my house. The moon was full, and the lawn was bathed in moonlight. In the shadows, I thought I could just make out a male human-like creature with furry legs and horns. Then whatever it was moved, and I could see the panpipes.

“Then I saw a young woman in a diaphanous gown dancing to the music played on the panpipes, and the male creature with furry legs and horns moved out into the moonlight and I could see him clearly. They set up a canvas on an easel. She seemed to be painting him, and then she would pose and he would paint her. After this went on for a while, she suddenly ran off into the shadows, shedding her gown on the way, and he grabbed up the canvas and easel and followed. I don’t know what I saw, but it livened up an otherwise dull evening. When I tell friends this story, most of them think I dreamed it. One friend suggested that they were art students collaborating on some sort of neoclassical piece, and that the faun outfit and panpipes probably came from some theater’s costume and prop shop.”

It didn’t matter to Laetitia whether he had dreamed it or not. She had her limerick for the day.

A young lass in the town Ballyvaughan
Did, ‘twas rumored, cavort with a faun
While dressed in her nightie
Just like Aphrodite,
On a moonlit expanse of the lawn.

Day 93: Doolin Foolin’

The Cliffs of Moher are not far from Doolin in County Clare, a picturesque seaside community with a small number of colorful houses, pubs, stores, and small hotels. Doolin’s proximity to one of Ireland’s greatest tourist attractions makes the town a very lively place during the vacation season. Laetitia took her group on some coastal hikes before arriving at one of Doolin’s pubs in the afternoon. The pub was filled with tourists, including a group of young women bicyclists from Galway. They seemed enthralled with a local young man with tattoos who seemed to be regaling them about something, probably himself. A local young woman sitting next to Laetitia at the bar found the whole thing amusing and whispered to Laetitia why. It became the limerick of the day.

Some lassies from Galway were droolin’
O’er a tattooed young dandy from Doolin
Who claimed his male part
Was a fine work of art
But local girls knew he was foolin.’

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.”