Billy O'Riordan: 'I'd love to be a fly on the wall in some of Clonmel's pubs...'

This week's column in The Nationalist


File photo

As I write, a blasted fly is whizzing around the kitchen evading all my efforts to clout him with a copy of The Nationalist.

Now before you start sending stiff letters to the editor on the plight of the common housefly, bear with me for a moment.

I enjoy nothing more than exploring the wildlife on offer in our beautiful Suir valley and I have photographed everything from otters to egrets along the banks of the Suir.

However, every nature lover has his or her dislikes and mine happens to be things with more than two eyes, which resemble grotesque monsters when viewed under a microscope.

The nuisance is still whizzing around the kitchen and my new weapon of choice is the tea towel.

It is as fast as lightning; I’ve whacked a few more docile specimens in recent days. This fella is full of vim and is determined to evade my clutches.

Before you mention it, I have tried opening a window but the idiot just repeatedly slams its head against it; only succeeding in allowing its brothers and sisters inside. I don’t normally get many flies in the house; it must be down to the recent heatwave.

Bees, I can make an exception for, as they are important because they pollinate our plants.

Outside my house I have some French lavender and the bees have been on it all summer, gathering pollen while humming away to their heart’s content.

Meanwhile, this annoying little object flies around my kitchen with no purpose other than to distract me from focusing on my weekly column, a column which attempts each week to capture the heartbeat of life in Clonmel; it attempts to grapple with the effect of the vagaries of the pandemic on everyday life in Clonmel; a column dedicated to highlighting the everyday experiences of the citizens of the town; words each week devoted to you, dear reader and you alone rather than to a common housefly.

If only I had some of that roll of sticky stuff which people hung from ceilings years ago; it might do the trick. My only reservation with that strategy is that - as memory serves - it looked fairly revolting seeing a string of dead flies up above as you tuck into your semolina pudding at granny’s house.

They were a practical generation and very efficient fly killers. My grandmother’s solution to all pests, bothersome odours or anything really, was a tin of Jeyes Fluid.

Many a yard was scrubbed clean as a whistle with the aforementioned chemical solution. My grandmother’s personal ills were catered for by a bottle from an illicit still.

Nanny Cahill swore by a dab here and there of poitín for relief of her rheumatism which seemed to work a treat, as she lived until her 90th year.

She kept a bottle next to her bed - she was a teetotaller all her life - for easy access. I’ll give Nanny Cahill points for her health initiative on the poitín front but I’ll deduct a few for her fly-killing methods. No, I’ll just have to sit it out and hope that the little blighter weakens soon and then it’s splat!

I’m not going to comment on Covid passports and all things indoor dining until I’ve had the pleasure of eating inside. Imagine that, inside! I was looking at my ID card given to me many years ago by the Government.

It needs to be renewed - it’s out of date - no one wrote to me or anything. Anyway, the day before I went in to get it endorsed, I was given the worst haircut of my life.

Consequently, the only ID which I can offer is out of date, with a photo resembling a man with a head looking like someone who had spent time in a Russian gulag.

I suppose they’ll let me in with it. It’ll be strange publicans asking fellas who’ve sat on the same barstool, in the same pub for the last 30 years – for some form of ID.

I’d love to be a fly on the wall.

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