11 August 2011

Eolaí and his Painting Tour: Week Six

You'll remember how we left the Brother last Thursday as he coasted into Limerick to deposit himself at the home of Bock the Robber, he who once promised to mock me when I was on the radio, and then stayed eerily silent. Swiftly and happily filled with Bock's Chilli Surprise, he was happier still  in the pub a little later, filled with a fiery chilli and hunched over a perfect pint.

Friday was a day of wandering, with the Brother gazing up into the skies, presumably wondering whether what he'd seen had been a bird, a plane, or Jerry Seinfeld's mate, and admiring the Walls of Limerick. Saturday saw him wandering still, though with a bit of a limp, his foot starting to play up, which is hardly surprising given how he's cycled and painted a winding road halfway round the country. Still, limping though he may have been, he was reportedly looking pretty fresh as he ambled through the Milk Market. 

Culinary experimentation was the order of the day for him as he marshalled with pride a 'Celtic Egg', wrapping a hard-boiled egg in black pudding and musing whether there might be a market for 'Gaelic Eggs', with white pudding serving as the meaty armour. I'm not surprised he's going down this road; I'll not forget his delight at Sister the Eldest's back in the day when he experienced white pudding inside black pudding!

Gastonomic adventures complete, it was off to the pub again, there to watch Dublin beat Tyrone 0-22 to 0-15, in a match that the Brother had to admit wasn't really a game that any neutrals could have enjoyed. Seemingly the rain didn't skip Limerick that day, but settled in the pub as he was, he hardly noticed.

Sunday saw him cycling through east Limerick, admiring beautifully ramshackle houses, and stopping for a mineral -- that's a soft drink to people not from Ireland -- at Doon, before making his way through Cappawhite into Tipperary, his twelfth county. I must quiz him at some point about whether it's packed with orchards, as the Magners ads would have us believe. I've only set foot there twice, once to go to jax in Toomevara when I was eleven, and once to visit a graveyard in Carrick-on-Suir when I was fourteen or so, so I'm afraid I'm no expert on the county. Eventually, having cycled through a beautiful day of rain and sun, he reached the Rock of Cashel, and pulled up his Xtracycle to settle in for the night at Peggy O'Neill's B&B, there to chat at length with Bernie Goldbach, who described the Brother's 'subtle use of Twitter, Picplz, Latitude, Google Plus, Audioboo, Latitude and Street View [as] a case study in getting results from social media.'

Seemingly Bernie was ashamed of having kept my cycleworn brother talking beyond midnight, not being able to finish a chat with him in less than two hours, but given that I don't think I've ever really finished a chat with him in less than two decades, I don't think there's any shame in that. 

Up on Monday morning, the Brother had a gorgeous view from his window of Hore Abbey, a ruined thirteenth-century Cistercian monastery. Monday was a busy day, with no shortage of acrylic applied to canvas, and tea drank by the bucketload, not to mention a reviving bath being gloried in, with the internet largely being shunned, such that the Brother was shocked when he turned it on in the early hours of Tuesday, to learn what was happening in England. 

Bernie set the Brother up with a microphone to aid him in his audioblogging, and after they checked the lapel mike, the Brother turned around and cycled off into the distance, heading back westwards, leaving Bernie to muse on the trip thus far, describing the Brother as being, not merely 'a gold-plated member of the Irish Twitterati', but 'Ireland's first truly digital nomad'.

High praise, methinks.

It was clearly a remarkable day's cycle, the highlight of which was his seeing a group of swallows join forces in the air to drive off a hawk. Having said farewell to Cashel, he crossed the Suir by the Camus Bridge, and eventually left Tipperary and returned to Limerick, cycling through Abington, to new hosts in Castleconnell, as pretty as it was wet, there to revel in hospitality again, and to paint and plot into the night. Wednesday saw the Brother sitting painting in the company of a small child, and dining out on some fine Italian food, with him staying in Castleconnell again that evening, painting and poring over maps through the night, wondering about the practicalities of the rest of the trip.

Off we went again today, getting thoroughly damp as he cycled through the clouds, and past fields upon fields of stones upon stones, craving tea as he continued his constant sensory overload of being mesmerised by the scenery he was becoming part of.

And finally, then, after a long and glorious day of ninety kilometre's cycling, with him spotting a true avian highlight in a charm of goldfinches and taking advantage of a rare cessation of rain to photograph a beautiful wall, he entered Galway. Six weeks down, and thirteen counties visited.

There's more to come, of course, so rather than just tracking my summaries, you should follow the Painting Tour on his blog and especially on Twitter, where the hashtag's #paintingtour. I wouldn't bother following him on Google Latitude, though, given its habit of placing him somewhere he visited once upon a time. That was one of the great incidental revelations of Tuesday, when someone pointed out that it's not common for wireless mifi to have accurate gps support, such that most of them can easily revert to cached locations: this goes some way to explaining why several times in this trip Latitude's placed the Brother in Drogheda, Lucan, Cork, or anywhere really as long as it's eighty miles or so behind him!

Today's been a wet day, but when the right moment appeared the Brother hit the ground to capture this.

And again -- and especially importantly --  if you think there's any chance at all he might be passing within twenty miles or so of where you live and you have a bed to offer and fancy a painting, and especially if you're in one of the spots he currently doesn't have a host, you should let him know. Just send him a message to Ireland's first digital nomad™. It's not called social networking for nothing, you know...

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