Driving east through the Irish Midlands, the crows tossed in a battleship grey sky, like charred scraps from a bonfire, the windscreen pebbled with rain, there's a big Wicker Man-ish statue on the tall embankment to the side of the road, arms raised like some pagan god, calling up the storm. The sky comes down and the world retreats behind a whitish mist, taillights suddenly coming on as the traffic slows in the thundering rain.
(And everywhere, abandoned kitchen and bathroom showrooms, a reminder that not so long ago this whole country was in modernisation mode, all these beat-up, damp old cottages getting the Celtic Tiger makeover. The Sunday Independent has a front page headline: ‘A New Dawn’, suggesting that national happiness or confidence is at an all-time high. The country has repaid its bailout and is on the up again)
I drive through the other side on the approach to Tullamore, rolling into the dry outskirts all at once, like a roller blind being suddenly raised.