The Secret Keepers

This was a conspiracy of the highest order, an undercover project of gigantic proportions.  Months and months of planning, organisation and synchronisation across several countries, indeed continents, not to mention different languages, and total co-operation was called for.  Secret documents were circulated and total silence observed.  For all I know dispatch riders may have been sent out in the dark of the night with strict instructions to swallow the communication in the event of being detected.  Even a decoy was organised!  A Luka concert in the National Concert Hall on the actual birthday with an overnight booked in a posh hotel – courtesy of the sister in law!

“Ok, lads and lassies – what have we got here?”

An oul’ fella, who is a bit eccentric, cranky and contrary but is not a fool, he may be three score and more years, but for heaven’s sake, he’s been trading online for over ten years.  He can ‘do’ emails, texts, message minders, and we’re not sure but he may also be able to do FaceBook, Twitter, Blogging and he’s been known to use various types of telephones, all of which makes the conspiracy more difficult.  There will be leaks, hints, gossip, the cover will be blown!  He’s sure to find out.  What do we do if he does?  Deny it, pretend to cancel it, or drag him screaming down the road.  No, the last will certainly not work.  I tell you what – we’ll cross the bridges as they are presented.

I have not been in the sole company of eldest son Davog for years.  He is usually surrounded by a combination of his darling Sophie, his girls, siblings or just extended family.  Nothing wrong with this of course, but the logic of a short trip from France to spend quality time at a hotel in Castleconnell bonding with his oul’ man sounded doable.

There were periods during this short two day trip of odd behaviour patterns to say the least!  But I didn’t pick up on any of them.  The fact that his mobile phone appeared to be hopping and buzzing with texts was ever so slightly annoying but not suspicious.  This is life in 2009. “Beep-Beep” goes on all the time these days.  Anyway, his two darlings back in France had been ill and his Sophie may have been under pressure, who knows.  He may have just felt he needed to say ‘I love you’ eight times every hour.

The conspiracy begins.  We book into our hotel and have a lovely meal and play a long game of chess – I won of course!!  Next morning Davog wants to go slowly home via the Burren and stretch the day out by having lunch in Monks of Ballyvaughan.  (By the way, was that man breakfasting solo at the next table, a spy speaking up his sleeve “D One and D Two having breakfast”!!?)

The next couple of hours were a wee bit peculiar – and still I didn’t twig it.  We finish our lunch in Monks and go for a walk on the pier, as one does.  The beep beeps on Davog’s mobile are becoming slightly exasperating.

I had no reason to suspect that any member of my family or friends would plant a surprise party on me.  Firstly, my birthday was not for another week and secondly I have had a dread of birthdays all my life.  I am nearly as bad as my father was.  Old Stephen Rynne never told anyone what day his birthday fell on and never did.  He felt it was a small event and such days were to be mourned and not celebrated.  Just another year older and closer to the grave!  Time to put the black flag out again!  I had also warned family that I was absolutely not into surprises.

We are back from our short walk in Ballyvaughan.  Davog spots an interesting café with the odd name “The Hungry Grass”.  “Will we try this out?” he suggests.  What!!  We’ve just had a big lunch?  But we didn’t have tea or coffee or dessert.  Ah sure, why not then.  A lovely place with snippets of local history on the menu – home made cakes, tarts and real coffee.  Great!

We go out to the garden – Davog to smoke and me to admire the exotic plants and get away from the fumes.  I notice him on the phone yet again.  I don’t even ask but do think we should be getting back to Miltown Malbay.  He will be heading back to France in the morning and it will be our last night to do the ‘family’ thing.  We stroll back to the car and he suggests we go for a nap!!  A what?!!  He starts yawning, “well I get up very early in France and I often go for a sieste after a big meal”.  This was a decidedly odd delaying tactic but funny enough I still did not twig. Well – sometimes I snooze myself and of course poor old Davog is no longer a bouncy teenager!   So we roll down the car seats and try it for fully 30 seconds.  “This is not working” says I.  He laughs and away we go.

I drive out the Burren Doolin road.  “Is this the way to Lisdoonvarna?”  Well no says I what do you want to go there for?  Now I am intrigued – what in the name of god do you want to go to Lisdoonvarna for?  “You’ll see when we get there”.   I am still not suspicious, just a tiny bit curious.  Ah what the heck it must be something to do with Paddy Doherty of the Spa Hotel, well known to us all.  Davog is involved in the entertainment world and they have some business to attend to, or maybe he’s looking for tickets to a Christy gig – who knows, who cares.  We drive through the quiet streets of Lisdoon; I spot Paddy sitting at a table outside his hotel.  Ah blast it, the gates of the hotel car park are closed, I curse, we’ll have to go park in the public car park.   Business must be dreadful if the car park is closed and the owner is sitting outside reading a newspaper.  As I walk by him I slag him “Have you nothin’ better to do than sit outside and read the latest gossip”!  He laughs and catches Davog by the arm – “come on and I will show you”.  Now where are we going, says I to meself?  OK I get it; he’s showing Davog “The Hall”.  This small venue is famous, iconic really – as the hall where Planxty recently had their mighty reunion gig after a 25 year break.  I walk behind the two boys – they divide and go each side of me.  They shove in the double doors and quickly vanish into thin air.

I am left on my own in a very dark hall.  I am instantly aware that it is full to the brim with cheering people and it looks and feels like thousands.  Confetti is being thrown at me, a glass of something is put in my hand and I get a familiar hug.  For less than a split second before the hug I had thought, I’m not meant to be here, this is not for me and the crowd are here for a wedding.  To say I was totally overwhelmed, overawed, flabbergasted, bewitched, bothered and bewildered, would certainly be an understatement.

Writing this after the great event and gathering scraps and snippets of thoughts from the last couple of months, I am coming up with all sorts of weird conspiracy theories.  Some very true and some ‘maybe’ true but I have yet to confirm.  Some of these thoughts I have aired in public to the chief organisers of “Secret Keepers” to be met with just roars of laughter.  I am in the process of analysing this reaction to see if I can glean the real truth!  Like, ok, the hotel car park was closed to hide Donnacha’s WAV among other less obvious vehicles, but with telling “Commit Random Acts of Kindness” stickers.  Was that guy at breakfast this morning a spy, keeping an eye on our movements and sending carrier pigeons to Lisdoon with news.  Were James and Lelia really on holidays or had they flown in from Hoboken New Jersey or Clive and Holly from California?  Ditto for Gum and Eva or were they ensconced in their wee farm at Knocknagonnell or had they also come over especially?

To see old and some indeed ancient friends, some I hadn’t seen in over four decades – the wonderful Grehan Sisters, Paul and Jennie, Victor and Shirley, Gordon and Ida, Pat Cullen, Michael and Frances, Victor and Gillian, Ger, Steig and Conal, John and Marion, Lara and Mike and the twins, Sue and Dave, Mike and Sarah, George and Michelina, Mick and Antoinette, Peter and Marisa, Garret and Margaret, Moya, Eileen, all the Lunnys, Ruairi and Barbara, Jacqui, Aoife, Sorcha and Dealga, Usna, Fran and Brenda, Margie and Pauline, Terry and Annette, John and Grainne, TomP and KatieV, the marvellous Miltown mob, Jeannie and Mary, and as for all the Rynnes and Moores  – my cup runneth over!!  The wonderful Royal Spa Hotel hospitality shone – Dohertys abú.

Categories: Davoc Stories