Denis Lehane: Reflections of an observant passenger

I recently received a driving ban. No, I didn’t get the ban after failing to blow into the bag on account of being in a terrible state of intoxication.

The ban was handed down, not by a crusty old judge, but by my missus — for conduct unbecoming whilst driving.

She claims I’m always fiddling with knobs and switches, and that the old family bus is left in a state of total disarray after me.

It was no good telling her that I couldn’t help myself, as the old jeep is a complicated bugger, with more knobs and switches than a space shuttle.

The last straw came on Friday, when after twisting this knob and pulling that lever, I upset the lights to such a degree that they refused to work for the following four days and nights.

“You are banned from driving,” she fumed, “until you learn to stop fiddling with the knobs.”

So now, with my missus behind the wheel, I have had to make do with the passenger seat, and the limited amount of knobs on offer.

Anyhow, it’s not all bad, because I have found from my perch that I can cast my gaze far beyond the narrow confines of the road.

The roadside, for example, between Ballincollig and Macroom, is a sight to behold this autumn. It’s blooming entirely, not only with ragwort, but with an array of posters, placards and billboards, all proclaiming the good news of upcoming festivals and events.

Indeed, with the height of advertising, this particular stretch of road is beginning to look more like the Las Vegas Strip, with every passing day. And one festival that catches the eye with its flashy billboards is the Coachford Autumn Festival. All they are short really is the neon lights.

What makes the festival in Coachford even more appealing to a farmer like me is that, on Sunday, you can enjoy the sheep racing.

And I don’t mean uncontrolled sheep racing like what goes on in my farm, but orderly sheep racing, done over a proper course, with a beginning, middle and an end. So intrigued was I by the prospect of sheep racing that I contacted Jerh O’Sullivan, one of the organisers.

“Last year, the sheep racing event was great fun, and although we’ve lost a few winners from the 2014 event, due to the butcher’s block, we have found some very good replacements.

“Punters will be invited to back their favourite, and there is even a chance for people to become a racesheep owner for the last race,” Jerh told me.

Well I ask you, could it get any better? Of course, over the weekend in Coachford, there will be a host of other activities, but how could I list them off today — and I eagerly awaiting the sheep racing on Sunday?

The sheep, I believe, are being supplied by well known sheep breeder Sean Dennehy. He produces excellent lambs, but how are his flock with regards to speed?

All I’m saying is that come 2016 in Coachford, his quick footed sheep might have competition from the Lehane sheep racing stable.

Sure for goodness sake my sheep do nothing but run, aren’t I worn out from trying to keep up with them? So it’s Coachford for us this weekend, with me being carted there in the passenger seat like Miss Daisy herself.

But that’s ok too, because without driving duties to concern me, I can partake in the business of sampling a pint or two.

Indeed, after my weekend in Coachford, I might well get very fond of this chauffeuring business.


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