This morning I took the Hound of Satan, my detested canine, for a walk. As I get older, I find it more annoying to carry all the gear — cattle prod, taser, pepper spray, steel net, trident, heavy bludgeon and chalice of consecrated hosts in case of emergency exorcisms, but it’s all necessary. You never know when you’ll meet a three-headed hound of Hades or a postman jogging on his day off.
As it happened, all we met was a gaggle of minor demons more interested in possessing an Old Testament villager. They recognised my Hound of old and scattered to the four sulphurous winds in a welter of brimstone and fire, screeching the True Name of Yog-Sothoth to the unperturbed swans who, I concluded, are unbelievers.
If we were a superstitious people, which of course we’re not, Heaven forfend, I think we’d probably conclude that our mighty river god is in a benign mood.
This river defines us in all our contradictions, our ugliness, our beauty, our courtings and cavortings, our sporting and our silly shenanigans. Without this river, we Limerick people would be something else, some kind of bland central-casting midlanders, but we have this river, and there’s no getting away from it.
I’ve seen that thing flinging itself against the quay walls like a bear in a trap. It’s taken too many of us and it will take many more, but today it was benign. Today it felt calm, though you’d never make the mistake of thinking it was harmless.
Tonight, even at its extreme tide, it didn’t lash us with spray and waves.
Instead, it crept over the boardwalk like like an old cat and it licked us gently, but you’d do well to remember that this old cat still has claws.