Tralee Town Park is the perfect place for an early evening stroll, Sunday morning walk or even a run if you are so inclined. I tend to do my daily walks first thing in the morning, when there are fewer people about, but on Sunday’s we’re up later and by the time I make it to the park it can be very busy. On a summer’s Sunday morning I met a man, who sort of sums up how a chance encounter can lead to great fun.
Daisy and I are walking in the park. I have her off the lead, and she’s darting in and out of the trees, chasing shadows and yapping at other small dogs. As we’re coming up to the Rose Garden I spot a man sitting on a bench and drinking a can of beer. It’s only 11:00 AM, the bells of the nearby St John’s are ringing and the sight makes me smile. Dressed in shorts and a polo shirt, can of beer on the go and his bike leaning against the back of the bench and now soaking up the sun, the man just looks so happy. And why wouldn’t he be? He obviously felt he deserved the beer, he’d done his exercise and now he was being rewarded. As it was a bit early to have bought the can, he must have brought it with him; he was planning this treat, possibly well in advance.
Daisy runs up to him and in around his legs. I call her back, and the man turns to see who’s behind the voice. As he sees me he gets up.
“Terrible day for a hangover,” he says.
“It’s never a great day for a hangover,” I answer.
“True,” he says, laughing.
We’re by now side by side, and I stop walking
“I’m wrecked,” he says, “I’ve been in England for the last four days, and I’m still all over the place.”
He doesn’t look too bad, considering he’s necking a can at eleven on a Sunday morning and has been on the beer for the last four days.
“Good time?” I ask.
“Great. Over visiting the brother, the cousin came with me. We got the bus and the boat, non-stop drinking.”
Getting the bus and boat used to be the standard way of getting to England but to do it for a four-day trip now seems very time consuming, but I think the travel was probably half of their fun.
“You know how much they charged for two whiskies on the boat coming back?” he asks.
I shake my head, but I remember in my day drinking on the boat was very cheap.
“Thirty euros” is the answer.
I’m genuinely shocked.
“As true as I’m standing here.”
“Wow,” I say, not doubting him but at the same time not believing that two whiskies could cost so much.
“Look,” he says, rummaging in the back pocket of his shorts, pulling out a piece of paper and giving it to me.
I open the scrunched-up receipt and there it reads, €30.00 for his two whiskies, with the time and date of 4.11 AM the previous morning.
“I hope they were worth it,” I say.
He looks at me.
“I wasn’t paying that; I told him to feck off and left them on the counter. We went off down the duty-free. A slab of Tennant’s for €9.99. Perfect I said and we grabbed two.”
“Better value there,” I laugh.
My man nods slightly while giving me a knowing look, before continuing:
“But you know what?”
“I paid the money, and then the girl said you can’t take them out of the shop till we get to port. We were caught.”
“What did ye do then?”
“Went to the other bar and had a pint.”
We both laughed.
“I’ve been drinking those cans since I came home,” he says, but only with a slight touch of being under pressure.
As we’re talking two men pass by, and one is the local undertaker.
“Hey,” my man says, “I don’t want to be seeing you for a while yet.”
“If you can see me you’re doing fine,” answers the undertaker, “it’s when you can’t see me is when you’re having the trouble.”
We all laugh, and I walk off.