The road to Lisdoonvarna, Doolin and the Aran Islands
It’s strange how sometimes you’re thinking about somebody you haven’t seen for ages and then suddenly you meet them. It happened to me recently in Ennis. I was having a cup of coffee with my friend Seán and we were reminiscing about Doolin and the people who hung around there back in the the good ol’ days. Seán said,
“Come ‘ere, have you seen Molly Dolan at all? I wonder is she still around?”
I hadn’t laid eyes on Molly for years. She was a Cork lady, came to the Lisdoonvarna Festival the year Emmylou played and never went home. Molly did a bit of fortune telling at the Cliffs of Moher, read palms, Tarot cards and that sort of thing. She was goodlooking, long dark hair, parted in the middle, wore ankle length dresses and occasionally played the whistle.
“Molly was a great character, ” I said, “I wonder what ever became of her.”
A few hours later, just beyond the Maid of Erin roundabout, on my way to North Clare, there was Molly, standing like an apparition, in hippy dress and colorful pathwork bag. I stopped and she ran to the car. When she recognised me she cried,
“I don’t believe it! Hello stranger! How’ve you been?”
“I was only thinkin’ about you a while ago,” I said, “where you goin’?”
“Kilfenora..and where you hittin to? Doolin I s’pose.”
“That’s the plan…I was half thinkin about goin out to Aran.”
“Jesus I’d love to go with you…I haven’t been in Aran for years..and it’s a right day for it…”
“Why don’t you come?”
“I have to work tonight…”
“Not exactly…I’m doin’ telephone work.”
She wagged her mobile phone and said,
“I got this great job with a psychic helpline…I get a euro a minute.”
“Yeah, I’m at it for a few months and have loads of regulars…they all want to talk to Molly!”
“You were always a popular girl…”
“Stop will you!”
I slowed down to turn off for Corofin and Molly told me how unsettled the country was, according to her callers.
“Like, there’s an awful lot of unhappy people out there. Some have huge debts and others have loads of money and tons of trouble. It’s no known to god all the marriages that are on the rocks. People are very lonely…most of them only call me to talk about their problems.”
“And where are these craturs from? Are they local?”
“They’re from all over…I have a few local clients too…I think they’re local…I don’t ask…but one woman definitely is.”
“And what’s her problem? Or is it confidential?”
“Do you mind if I smoke?”
“Not at all.”
Molly rolled a fag as we passed Toonagh, let down the window and lit up.
“Well, this woman is in love with a priest.”
“Jesus! You’re not serious?”
“Totally. He’s one of these trendy hip padres…champagne set type…into horse racing and all that goes with it…he’s much younger than her…she’s in her early fifties…and he keeps ignoring her and telling her to go away but she really believes that he loves her too and that he’s just playing hard to get…so she get all these face jobs done…you know, botox, stuff done to her lips…new hairdos…and of course she’s married. Married her first love…apparently he’s very abusive and he’s playing around… having it off with someone else’s wife…”
“There’s lots of that goin’ on…and not just in towns and cities..in the countryside too. But anyway, this woman began stalking the priest…turning up at services he’d be doin’…funerals, christenings…you name it. And d’you know what she did last week?”
“She went to confessions to him and told him.”
“Told him she was in love with him?”
“Yeah. And a lot more too. Her fantasies and stuff.”
“And what did he say?”
“He gave her two decades of the rosary and she fecked him out of it and wouldn’t leave the confession box.”
“And what happened then?”
“He left..disappeared…and hasn’t been seen since and she’s completely up the walls…she spent an hour talking to me last night.”
Molly rolled another cigarette as we crawled through Corofin and we recalled the great sessions that used be in Morgans and Cahers. I reminded her of the night we went to a party in the cottages but she had no memory of the night. Just as well…
“I’d go to Aran with you,” she said dreamily, “if I thought I’d have good reception for the mobile…I’ve a regular client calling at 9 tonight and I promised him I’d take his call. Dick. He’s a lovely.”
“Yeah, poor Dick. He’s a dwarf…he’s down south somewhere. He lives with his sisters and they treat him like shit. He’s very small…I mean tiny! Three foot something and he’s 42 or 43 years old. He loves U2 and dreams of working for them. You should hear him mimic Bono! Jesus, he’s a laugh. But anyway, the sisters are real mean to him…make him sleep in a cot and sit on a high chair at the table. Every weekend they go on the razz and then bring people back from the pub and have a party. Dick hates the weekends. The sisters get him up out of the cot and make him sing U2 songs for the drunks…terrible carry on. They make him drink whiskey and everything. One time they gave him poteen and he went demented, started biting them so they tied him up with a clothes line! And the poor guy asked me if it was wrong to think they were mean. Can you imagine! I’ve told him time and time again to call the Samaritans but he won’t. Says he prefers talking to me.”
We passed through Kilnaboy and I heard how Dick had joined an online dating site for short people but failed to find love. He also put an ad in a freak’s magazine and received several queries from carnivals and one from a circus in the Ukraine which he was very tempted to take. But he was afraid to run away, Molly said.
“He couldn’t see the cage door was open and that he could go.”
“And where’s he at now…like, how’s he doin?”
“Well apart from the sisters, he’s ok. He keeps writing to Bono but never hears back, which is sad. He actually composed a song and thought Bono and himself might do a duet. He sent him a tape of it but again, no response. But really, it wasn’t very good..terrible actually…he sang it over the phone for me. And Dick can’t sing…it was shaggin’ awful…and it was all about loving a woman he saw on the bus…Poor Dick…I had to say it was great. You know, I just couldn’t tell him it was shite.”
“Poor guy…but I s’pose it’s good for him to have some way to express his feelings…”
“Yeah, that’s what I said too and then last week he told me he’s thinking of making a CD of his songs…and I cringed. I mean what can you say? Poor Dick.”
I nodded. There wasn’t much you could say.
We passed Leminagh and the Kilfenora Mart and Molly rolled another cigarette. The sun was shining and swallows danced in the sky. I slowed down behind a convoy of green tractors barrelling off to make silage, yellow lights flashing urgently.
“Jesus,” she quietly, “the more I think of it, the more I’m inclined to go to Aran with you. Like, I’m not looking forward to listening to Dick singing his latest compositions…but I promised him.”
For the rest of the journey she was silent. I was hoping she’d change her mind and come to Aran. She sighed sadly as we entered the village and rooted in her bag. I pulled up outside Nagles and she gave me her business card — Molly Dolan, Psychic.
“Ok darling,” she said, leaning over to kiss my cheek, “just text me the next time you’re goin’ to Aran and maybe I’ll be able to go.”
“Sure,” I said, gave her a hug.
I swung the car towards Lisdoonvarna, Doolin and the Aran Islands as Molly’s business card glowed on the dashboard.
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