My Dog, Satan

It’s very difficult to own a dog. Very. It’s hard. Dogs demand a great amount from their owners, and anyone who tries to tell you that pets lower your blood pressure should be shot down in the street like a – well, like a dog.

I have, as you probably know, two dogs. Satan and Dermot.

Dermot is a fool. A dimwit who follows any passing pedestrian. A cretin. A moron. A half-wit.

Satan is rather different.

Jimbo and I went for a walk with our collective doggery yesterday, down around Plassey and the University area. It’s our favourite walk because it’s nice to stroll beside the beautiful River Shannon, especially in the wonderful weather we’ve been having lately. It takes about an hour, which isn’t a huge burden and what’s more, we get a bit of exercise too. The dogs get to run through the fields and chase creatures into bushes. Occasionally, Satan gets to kill something, but it’s usually something you’d want killed anyway, so we don’t mind too much.

The University is building an amazing footbridge across the Shannon – did I mention that before? An astonishing elevated thing that meanders among the islands on the river and connects the Limerick side of the campus with the Clare side. Wonderful. I’ve always loved that part of the Shannon. We used to swim there as kids, and paddle flat-bottomed boats down the river. You can still sit on the bank and wait for the trout and salmon to jump in the evening.
It’s lovely, and guess what? Who do you think is building the bridge? Eiffel!! That’s who. The same people who built that tower over there in Franceland.

Won’t it be nice? Anyway, that isn’t what I started to talk about. What I started to talk about was dogs. During our walk by the River Shannon, Jimbo looked around and said

One . . . Two . . . eh, Three?

Eh, no, actually. No Dermot. Why not? Very simple: Dermot gone. Dermot wandered off because Dermot completely stupid, and therefore we spend another thirty minutes driving around looking for the completely dense, incompetent, but very friendly and cute Dermot. We found him at last, following – what else? – two old men and a little grand-daughter walking their dogs.

We pulled up beside them, and I leaned out the window.

Jesus, thanks lads. I’m very-

That was as far as I got before Satan jumped past me out the window and savaged both of the poor old men’s mutts and a little timid creature led by the screaming child. We left in a cloud of smoke with the old men shaking their fists at us and the little girl giving a statement to the University security people.

Satan is a problem.


The River Shannon at Plassey

I took a few pictures during the week. Full flood.



Everybody in Limerick knows Plassey. If you don’t go to the nearby University, you certainly went swimming there as a teenager. You walked along the river bank there, got stoned there or laid, if you were lucky or drunk enough. I once gashed my foot there on a sharp stone, while swimming with my friends, and had to walk the whole way to Barrington’s Hospital for stitches, stopping every hundred yards or so to empty blood from my boot, but even that memory, strangely, has transmuted into something I like to keep, because it’s part of growing up and bonding with people who still matter to me. Plassey is fishing, swimming, walking and sharing. I was very, very young indeed when my father carried me on the bar of his bike, but to me Plassey is also Micheal O hEither commentating on some match neither I nor my father gave a shit about, yet which we both recognised had some meaning beyond our narrow lives. It’s a beautiful place – peaceful, serene and part of what we are.

When I was a kid, Plassey House – now the administrative heart of the University of Limerick – was simply the Haunted House. A brooding, Aubrey de Vere edifice, filled with terrors, with monsters, certainly with ghosts, but in reality populated by people who had no other place to go.

Did you know that the original Plassey is a place in India? Or that Plassey House was built for the great Clive of India), and that he named the area after his victory at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, when he defeated the Nawab of Bengal through the astute use of bribery? I don’t think he lived in the house. I’m not even sure he ever saw it, but perhaps he did. I hope he did, because it’s a beautiful place.

It could easily be that Clive of India never saw Plassey House for one very good reason. It isn’t widely known that, not more than five miles upriver, there’s another great house, built at around the same time by Dave of India. He called it Plassey House. And to make matters worse, another Italianate villa, Plassey House, only two miles away, was built by Steve of India. Both Dave and Steve also claimed to have defeated the Nawab of Bengal, in a game of forty-five.

Some scholars, while acknowledging the fine work evident in the great Italianate villa, Plassey House, at Annacotty, built by Maeve of India, dispute her claim to victory over the Nawab, ascribing it instead to Viv of India, who never built a house at all.

One thing is certain though. Whoever won the battle, the Nawab of Bengal was nothing short of a bollocks who sold out for a handy few bob and a quiet life.


The Shannon at Plassey