A Tale of Two Cities

Before my trip to Ireland, Michelle Stafford of Clonmel’s Main Guard contacted John Tuohy, a local historian from Clogheen (the town near Sheehy’s grave), who would be a willing wealth of information. She emailed his address–simply Main Street–and his telephone number.

Before school one morning, I called and, as an older person, was astounded that he answered the phone without any operator involvement whatsoever. We made an appointment to meet at 10 A.M. on my third day in the country.

My sister, Barbara, bought two copies of Frommer’s Road Atlas, one for each car we rented. This is an outstanding resource in itself and I highly recommend it. What I particularly like is that each page contains a section of Ireland in minute detail. Every four centimeters represents five miles–in American, that’s a fraction over an inch and a half.

If you look on the page of the map I was using, you can see the road follows a loop around a mountain. I had previously driven to Clonmel to the east of the Comeraghs, so this was my first time going this way. Being a responsible person, I left early.

As I zeroed in on my destination, I found myself driving back and forth, back and forth between the blue lines I’ve marked on the map. Where Clogheen should have been, was a field and a small hut of some sort. That certainly was not right.

Therefore, I was no longer early–I was now late. I became frantic. I had looked forward to this interview most of all and was blowing it. Oh–and this was before I owned a cell phone.

Not knowing what else to do, I decided to go into Clonmel and get better directions. Before reaching that city, a road sign said, “Clonmel–4 km” pointing to the right and “Clogheen–21 km” pointing left.

Even though that did not jive with the map AT ALL, I chose to follow the signs. At long last and thirty minutes late, I drove into Clogheen, which was larger than I pictured. I got directions to John Tuohy’s place and, once meeting him, started apologizing profusely for my tardiness. Which he hardly seemed to notice.

I explained my confusion about the map, to which he replied, “Oh. You were going to the wrong Clogheen.”

“The wrong Clogheen?”

“Yes. The one you were looking for is no more than a field.” (No joke!)

Sure enough, when I spread open my map book, there sat the TRUE CLOGHEEN.

Unbelievable.

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