Pat Joe approached me at the heart of the Farmers’ Market in Killaloe last Sunday, and he spoke more real wisdom to me in less than five minutes, under the bright sharp sunshine on the banks of the Shannon, than was uttered in the Dáil during the past month and more, since things started to go astray for both our Government and the Opposition.
He’s a mighty talker, is Pat Joe, being a Tipperary man from just across the bridge, and I have always found him well worth listening to. I wonder what ye think.
Maybe I enjoy him so much because he often covers the kind of factual territory, normally less trodden, that I like to venture into myself here, and elsewhere.
He is a farmer and, I fancy, a good one too, both canny and competent, and, knowing that, I was about to slag him mercilessly about the plastic bags he was bearing away from the Farmers’ Market.
Why did he not grow his own vegetables, for Heaven’s sake?
He silenced me totally on the spot, by showing me that both his bags were filled with the better part of a stone weight of every class of olive under the sun.
The wife and his teenage daughters, he explained, are extremely fond of olives in their slimmers’ diets.
“And Cormac, mark my words, the price of olives is set to go through the roof before Christmas, because the Spanish, who grow the olives sold here, have had the worst harvest in living memory.
“There are acres of olive groves where the crops have failed, just like our spuds failed the time of the Famine, as bad as that.
“If your wife and family are as fond of olives as my lot, or if they use olive oil for cooking and dressing salads, then follow my example and buy early when you can, because the day is coming when it will take the price of a bull calf to buy a flagon of olive oil. Take my word for it now.”
I am passing that information on, for what it is worth.
I have not checked his story out at all, being too lazy for that kind of thing, but I can assure you all that, in my experience, the bold Pat Joe is always accurate.
Last time we met up, for example, was back in the month of April in Galway, and he told me then, despite anything the sporting pundits were saying, that I should back Kerry to win the All-Ireland again.
Fool that I am, I did not follow his advice, because I fancied Dublin.
Be honest, and admit that ye did too.
Anyway, himself and his precious bag of olives, and myself, stood admiring the silvery flow of the mighty Shannon past the edge of the market, and we talked about watery matters, of course.
He nodded at the passing flow and said it looked so pure and clean nobody would suspect how much raw sewage was still being discharged into it, and into all the other Irish rivers.
He won’t be paying water rates to anybody, he said, because he spent good money 40 years ago to sink his own spring well and put a pump on it. And he said he gave short shrift some years ago to a health inspector from Tipperary County Council who called to his place to test his spring water for possible pollution.
That did not happen, in the end.
And he added, “These inspectors and civil servants say that sewage and the spreading of slurry cause pollution, and they blame something they call E Coli.
“Why don’t they call a spade a spade and call it P Coli or, faith, if it is very bad, S Coli. Then we would know what they are talking about”.
Again, I pass that on for what it is worth.
It took me a minute or two to figure out his logic.
In the further course of a great chat covering the whole Irish and world spectrum, Pat Joe also predicted, based on his observations of two pairs of swans on his local lake, that our magnificently kind autumn and early winter will inevitably be balanced by as bitter and harsh a January and February as we have experienced In a long time.
That prediction, as I understand it, is based on the fact that the swans and the mallards on his waters are feeding voraciously from morning to night, as if they sense there are very hard times immediately ahead.
Amongst other wisdoms, he pointed out strongly that we menfolk of Ireland should now realise we are living in a feminist era, in which the sisterhood are at last come into their own.
Though a rabid Fianna Fáiler all his life, he praised Joan Burton for the brave way she had dealt with a water bomb and the hostility of protestors in Tallaght.
In his view, Mary Lou McDonald is already the real leader of Sinn Féin, Miriam O’Callaghan is worth any three of her insipid (the word he used) male colleagues, and a lifesize statue in honour of Sonia O’Sullivan in Cobh is well-earned and long overdue.
“She is in her mid-40s nowdays, is Sonia, but I bet she could still run faster than any of the men that represent us nowadays.”
He could be right there too.
And Pat Joe, before he set off to cross the bridge back to Tipperary, paid a final tribute to another great Irishwoman.
“I heard this morning before I came out that the mighty boxer, Katie Taylor, who has not lost a fight for years now, has easily qualified for the finals of her fifth or sixth world championships. She is sure to win again, unless the judges in Korea are as crooked as Irish bankers.
“That girleen has as many gold medals at home as I have olives in this bag.
“We should elect her to the Dáil when she finishes her career, and she’d soon put manners on that crowd up there!”
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