One night in Shercock

Kingscourt’s a grand wee town, plenty of pubs and grubberies. There’s Gartlan’s with its thatch and the trad sessions on a Sunday evening. But it’s not Sunday and you’re not stopping off in Kingscourt today, you’re just passing through. On down past Dún a Rí Forest park, home of the famous Wishing Well and the recently deceased Chestnut Tree. If you’d a bit more time you’d tip on in and do the River Walk, down beaneath Rabbit Bridge. Stroll up to Sarah’s Well and meander by the Castle ruins. Tomorrow perhaps. Hangover permitting.

Continue on around the bends that lead over the drumlins towards Shercock. Across in the distance is a hill full of turbines. Great white spinning crosses that stand in memorium to the beautiful landscape they’ve commandeered. Everywhere across Cavan you’ll find outbreaks of turbines, that are gradually reducing the county to a giant wind farm.

There’s been a load of new houses built along the road since you were last down. Some are fine houses although none are built in local Kingscourt brick, or Lagan as it’s now called. Apparently grey pebbledash is all the go. There’s one that looks like a glasshouse, with its great glazed walls that’d make Dermot Bannon weak at the knees. Who lives in glasshouses?

The angelus gives way to the news and it’s time to start thinking about food. You’ve brought dessert with you and can bank on Tara bringing her melanzane starter. In fact, there is zero possibility that she’ll ever bring anything other than her signature dish. After the third or fourth bottle last time, she admitted that it’s the only thing she knows how to cook. You never reminded her of the revelation, so of course you’ll feign surprise when she arrives with it later.

As for Jeff, well it’s anyone’s guess what he’ll serve for mains. He’s the quintessential gourmand who could serve you mud on a stick and it’d always taste great. His new partner is a sommelier in a fancy pants spot in Dublin, so he’s taking care of the wine pairings. Not that any of you will fall out over grape type. Since your college days, you’ve celebrated the merits of all colours and types in great quantity, without prejudice. In fact, your first night together had been spent over too many bottles of Buckfast in Jeff’s dorm room in Trinity. A night that had set the tone for the rest of your days as you became a group of indiscriminate, apolitical drinkers. Any tipple or session would do.

The sign welcomes you to Shercock and you head down towards the chicken factory overlooking the lake. The sun is still high and there are a few rods reaching into the lake. The overgrowth is summer-thick so you can’t make out the shapes of the fishermen, but you know they have to be Eastern Europeans. Anyone with a jot of local knowledge knows that the effluent from the chicken factory drove the fish from Shercock many moons ago in what has become the local St. Patrick and the snakes story. There hasn’t been a fish caught in the lake since the mid-eighties. Those Latvians or Estonians would have more luck digging for gold.

The door opens as soon as you park on the driveway and Jeff’s smiley face beams at you. Samuel is right behind him wearing a baby blue sari.

-We’re doing Indian, he calls out when the car door opens.

-So I see, I reply, nodding at Samuel.

In you go to the secnt of tumeric and lemongrass. The sitting room is a rainbow of colour with chinese lanterns draped from wall to wall.

-I thought you said it was Indian Samuel? You said, smiling at the trail of lights.

-It was all I could find. Pretend they’re Indian.

The three of you laughed.

-And the wine, will that be from Punjab? You ask.

-Eh, no. Bordeaux actually, but it’s the perfect wine. You’ll love it! Here, taste it.

He hands you a glass and it is divine. No sooner than you’ve had a mouthful, Tara arrives.

-Starting without me? she says, walking in and blowing us all kisses. Here, I made a melanzane.

-Ooh lovely, the three of you say together.

-What’s with the Chinese lanterns? she asks.

-We’re having Indian tonight, says Samuel.

-I can see that from the get-up of you, but what’s with the Chinese lanterns?

You all laugh then grab your glasses and propose a toast to what will be another night of endless fun.

-To friendship, Jeff says, holding his glass aloft.

-To Indo-China, you and Tara say together.

The laughter continues into Shercock’s small wee hours.