The guys had packed up the Jeep Wrangler to capacity. Normally a 5 seater vehicle, it was now holding 7 men in their late teens, 2 fishing rods, 2 three man tents and 5 backpacks. There was no time for bemoaning discomfort in this vehicle as it pounded South across pot holed Irish roads.
Dan was at the wheel and fresh back from California he was intent on sporting cut off jeans, a faded ‘Strokes’ t-shirt and beach sandals. With the canvas top folded down, I was certain he thought he was still on some Malibu cliff road with the wind blowing through his greasy hair. However; in reality, this was Ireland and we were being rained on from all angles. The winds were high in off the Irish sea and we had only just left the security of the Dublin road network when everyone agreed it was time to put the canvas roof back on.
This wasn’t Malibu and apart from the warmth generated from our own bodies as we huddled in the rear seat, it was freezing. Emmet however, having drunk his fair share of cider the night before was sleeping soundly head rested against the window and contributing to our conversation by means of sporadic flatulence.
The stop off to re-attach the roof gave Dan an opportunity to study his map for the driving directions. He soon realized however; as we all stretched our legs on a deserted Irish countryside road, that he had taken the wrong motorway out of Dublin and we had gone a good 20km West of where we wanted to be.
To make matters worse he had only brought a map for Dublin and its surrounding towns. We were by now far beyond the confines of that map. The route back the way we came wasn’t easy to remember by any stretch of the imagination, so we all clambered back in to the Jeep and made towards the nearest village to ask for directions back to a national route.
When I have seen Irish villages on TV and film, I have always thought that perhaps the director was being a bit liberal with the amount of paddy whackery that is portrayed. This, I am sorry to say is not the case. 7 men cramped into a Jeep Wrangler, brimming with fluorescent camping gear, as it pulls into a quaint, rural village is a sight to behold. It looked for all intent and purpose like some sort of parade had just appeared on the main street of this one horse town. Old women ceased nattering to each other at their house doors and began to stare at this wondrous sight.
Men outside the pub with a pint of Guinness in their hand stopped sipping and watched us as we passed by slowly, eyes downcast. We looked out of place and an eerie feeling fell on all of us. I began to recall scenes from cheesy road trip movies where a group of college kids pull into a backwards town for gas and calamity ensues.
There was nothing to be done however. Dan’s map was useless and after berating him for taking a local road map on a journey which was anything but local we decided one of us would have to ask directions. I pulled the short straw and after much complaining I agreed to go into the country pub to ask for driving directions.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that as soon as I entered the dark, dingy bar, the whole place stopped. I mustered the courage and in my most sonorous and macho voice I asked the bar man the direction to the next national route South. The bar man slowly put down the pint glass he was drying, and leaned across the bar to look me straight in the eye. What he told me then has haunted me to this very day, and I dare not repeat what he said for fear that some evil omen will occur. I left the pub in a shaky condition, pale and wan, unable to speak. The guys, waiting for me in the Jeep, were shocked to see me in such a frightened state.
I pushed into the back seat and sat dumbfounded. They inquired what had happened, but I couldn’t say a word. Emmet awoke then from his baby like sleep. He looked at the sign by the side of the road and asked, ‘What are we doing here?’. ‘We’re lost Emmet!’ I shouted angrily, reprimanding him for his ignorance of my condition. ‘OK, relax, just asking’. It was then that we all wanted to punch him, as we saw him let another fart, scratch his backside and take out his i-Phone to access the map application for directions.