I’ve been trying to keep my exercise regimen in tact on this tour, but some of the show locations have made it slightly inconvenient or embarrassing to go jogging. Why I should be embarrassed at this age remains a mystery to me, but not a big concern, as it has not been a major deterrent. I know myself to be more self-conscious in big cities, so when I heard that we were going to be stopping in a small village on our way from Dublin to Belfast, I took the opportunity.
The town is called Glenfarne, slightly out of our way as it is in the far northeast of Ireland (the Republic of, not Northern), but we stopped there because several of our tour manager’s relatives are native residents. He pointed me in the direction of his family’s farm, he and the rest of the band choosing the local watering hole as their temporary station.
There was a fine mist in the air that eventually turned into rain, but at the offset it just seemed like small particles of water suspended in the air, like a transparent fog. The first landmark I passed was the Rainbow Ballroom of Romance, a dance hall built ages ago by our tour manager’s grandfather. I found out later they put old tires under the dance floor to give it the classic suspension. At the ballroom I turned right, up the hill toward the town’s church, St. Mary’s. As soon as I started heading up the hill my nose was filled with the scent of peat. At first, the mild smell of it burning in stoves, and then as I got into the real farmland, the intensely pungent aroma of what had been harvested and bagged. I was finally smelling in its fullness what I had tasted hints of in scotch. A smell like nothing else, it is at the same time comforting and arresting. Comforting because of its earthiness, arresting due to its strength.
St. Mary’s is a quaint country church, simple as a pair of hands performing the old rhyme, “Here is the church, here is the steeple…” At the corner of it the road makes a sharp left and levels out, revealing a brief flatland, occupied by several small farms. For a while I was completely alone, but as I neared the next steep hill, I passed by a farmer walking up the road. As I passed him, he turned and I said “Morning.” “G’morning to ye, then,” he replied. We seemed loud in the relative silence.
More than half exhausted, I turned around at the foot of the next hill. The farmer was gone and, save the barking dog and flock of sheep that bleated at me as I passed, I didn’t encounter another living soul until I had descended out of the smell of peat and reached the bus again. Finding it empty, I hurriedly changed into my street clothes and met up with the others at the local pub, arriving just in time to have a pint of Guinness before our departure. I had enjoyed Dublin, and found Belfast somewhat interesting as well, but that afternoon in Glenfarne is what I will think of when I think of Ireland.