So we left the Brother last Thursday evening, and him sitting in a Kerry field beyond Killarney, chasing the sunset in a field of hay, cursing the farmer who'd started baling it. What's happened since then, you might wonder, in the ongoing saga that Ireland's twitterati call #paintingtour?
Well, as the night progressed the Brother mentioned his favourite sign of the trip thus far, one that'd have been too dangerous to stop and photograph, saying 'Cork Therapy Clinic -- Previous Left Turn'. That'd been a few days earlier, of course, but not nearly so much earlier as this marvellously iconic sight which he posted as a competition for his Twitter followers; if anyone guessed the county, said Eolaí, he'd allow himself a can of stout. I'd have gambled on Carlow, but after much disputing around the photo's geotag -- showing where the Brother was when he posted the picture, not where he took it -- it was eventually revealed in the early hours of Friday morning that it was taken in north Wexford, way back in week one!
Alternating between pint and paint, and with tea to ease the transitions, he carried on into the night. With another painting done, he set off again on Friday, looking back to the Reeks and struggling to Farranfore, having a bit of a scare on the way. Having used his tablet to work out his route, he hadn't secured it properly to the bike afterwards, and cycling down a hill it fell off, and was hit and run over by a tractor. However, thanks to the tablet's heroic sleeve, even hitting the ground at speed and being run over didn't damage it at all! And if that scared him, then he scared us, conjuring up a terrifying image that evening by warning us after his arrival that though he was happily ensconsed among his hosts, filled with food and clutching his tea, he had some concerns about his attire. 'I tell ya tho',' he said, 'these cycling shorts aren't going to see too many more counties.'
Still, erosion to shorts aside, it clearly proved a jovial evening, and suitably fortified and rested he set out again on Saturday, cycling past classic pub scenes and typically gorgeous Kerry landscapes on his way to Tralee. Unfortunately, given the weekend that was in it, with a bank holiday and golf going on, Tralee was booked up. There being no room in the inn, the Brother was forced to turn around and pedal back to Farranfore, making it back where he'd started just before dark. Still, his future hosts made plans for him appearing with all agreeing on the need for tea, beer, tea, wine, tea, curry, and tea*, and one boasting of having arranged for the importation of my Brother's clan. He may have been exaggerating on that one, as I certainly didn't get an invitation.
|Kerry Road Markings|
Out on Sunday, having had to abandon his plan for two days of gentle cycling, he set off again, pausing on the way to admire Kerry County Council's assiduous road maintenance, and again to rectify yet another puncture. Onward again through the misty rain, looking west to the Dingle peninsula, and through the hurling stronghold of Kilmoyley where the locals had quickly picked the Q, C, and K from the local Quick Pick, all the way to the home of Dat Beardy Man and Arwen the dog.
Monday saw the Brother painting and inhaling tea at the side of yet another Kerry road, and with the sun down he put away his paints and turned to dinner and more tea.
Two hours behind schedule on Tuesday, he set off from Lixnaw through Finuge and Listowel, onward to Tarbert to get a ferry over the Shannon Estuary. He stopped to share tea and griddle bread with a needy if somewhat adorable dog that'd been chasing a chicken only moments earlier, and then continued pushing his legstraining way through Clare, his tenth county, making his way past Ballynacally, village of a thousand hanging baskets, to Ennis, his destination for the night.
Yesterday seems to have been an odd one, with him under orders to paint some zombies in the west of Ireland -- no, I have no idea, but he assures me they weren't painted from life, though they may have been rendered from living death. Whatever about the Zombies, though, he also did a gorgeous painting of a couple of pugs for his hosts. Sadly, one dog didn't make the cut for some reason.
Today has seen him cycling southeast, more or less, stopping to eat a sandwich at Quin Abbey, taking a cattle grid at speed, marvelling at an unexpected sign in Sixmilebridge**, pausing to wish for tea, and eventually passing Thomond Park as he entered Limerick City by the old Cratloe Road, crossing the Shannon at Thomond Bridge to be hosted in his eleventh county by the notorious Bock the Robber.
Five weeks cycled, eleven counties graced with his presence, and I have no idea how many paintings painted or mugs of tea consumed. Let's hope his legs hold up. As I keep saying, you can and should follow him on his blog and especially on Twitter, where his hashtag's #paintingtour. I wouldn't bother following him on Google Latitude, though, as that has a habit of putting him in Drogheda when he's in the Dublin Mountains or Kilmore Quay, in Lucan when he's in Ardmore, and Garryvoe Beach in Cork when he's in north Kerry.
And again, as I've also said before, if you think there's a chance he might be passing within twenty miles or so of where you live and you have a bed to offer and fancy a painting, you should let him know. Just send him a message. It's not called social networking for nothing...
|The Brother's Route Thus Far, as roughly reconstructed from Twitter updates|
* Though you could argue that tea, wine, and spirits is the correct order of drinks.
** One needs to be warned of such sinister creatures.