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"On the piss" in Tralee, Ireland

June 2003 —

Further out the peninsula there was a great little pub/hardware store/bicycle shop....

I'd needed to get out of Kilkenny, and had gone west. Off the bus in Killarney, I'd met a guy from Wicklow. We'd had some pints that evening.

Learning there would be no accommodation that festival weekend, I hadda move on. Eoin suggested Tralee, and said maybe he'd go with me.

We went on the piss again in Tralee. We found a decent pub after a couple of abortive pints here and there.

I noticed the big matron as we entered, passing the empty dining area in front of the joint. She was behind the counter there, the counter which passes back into the pub area behind the back wall of that front space.

She noticed us, too. She watched us, more like. I guess we looked alright; she said nothing, and she was cordial as we approached the bar counter in back.

The pub area was fairly packed, and a kind of a tough crowd. Not tough with impending violence — but busy with people who kept their heads down, so to speak. You go about your own business. The physical environment was Irish, yes. Dark, incandescent low lighting over dark wood fixtures. Redish wallpaper, or carpet, or both — a redness to it. The room was long and relatively narrow heading back toward the rear of the building. Another room up three steps was about as long and narrow and contained a few pool tables.

Tralee is a rough town, working class and rather charmless overall. However, the matron here made up for the lack of classiness in the town. She had a sweet smile, white hair, and looked solid.

She was an imposing figure, her breasts the size of watermelons, distended as would be soft watermelons over the years. And she took no messing from anybody. Friendly to sweetness, she was quick to action when somebody crossed her notion of order in what was clearly her pub.

A few young folks came in, late in the evening. She checked their identification — where did she come from so fast, to the entrance of the pub area?

No proper i.d., a couple of lads had to leave.

They came back later. [...]

She was there in an instant, and stood before them as wide as a brick wall. "I told you to stay away," she roared. "Now fuck off!"

They left. And we had a laugh about it, Eoin and I — us sitting right there next to the doorway as we were. She laughed with us, just as sweet as you'd want anybody to be.