Ballytaspy: there are not too many songs about this place, that would make it popular or even familiar, though to the three dozen or so people who live within in it's boundaries Ballytaspy is unique. On weekend nights a rendition of 'There's no place like Ballytaspy' or 'It's a long way to Ballytaspy' can be heard echoing across the narrow street from both of it's two pubs as each drinking house tries to out sing or drown out the other.
Now it would be easy to believe that drinkers are well catered for with two establishments to choose from, without knowing the about the subtle inclinations of the proprietors. For example, the other night I decided to visit the Clancy's for a quiet drink and so to confuse my neighbours I parked my car outside of Burke's Bar and stepped across the street to drink in salubrious surroundings. Only to find the place locked, shuttered and in total darkness, now I knew that this was hours too early for a lock in; So I returned to my car and moved it further along the street and left it outside of the Priest's house and rapidly walked to Burke's Bar.
I chose the public bar rather than the lounge because the sound of clicking balls from the pool table disturbs my thoughts. Burke's is not known for wastage of any kind and the lighting inside the public bar is extremely dim, giving it a Dickensian appearance, not a place for doing deals unless of the nefarious kind. My eyes gradually accustomed to the shaded lights and there on the corner of the bar was the huddled shape and cut of a familiar figure, surrounded by several empty pint glasses complete with Guinness stains in various stages of drying. A slurred voice ordered two more pints loudly explaining: that one would keep the other one company because God had made everything in pairs.
Six customers stood at right angles to him, I joined them to make it seven and ordered my pint to stand quietly as I listened to their friendly banter. Eventually my nearest neighbour informed me that Clancy had been here for the last two days and was liable to be here for a week barring an accident or Burke's running short of stout. Such is the inclination of a Ballytapsy publican.
© MRL October 2011