6 Ballyfey Tales - “Welcome to Brambles”

PtE. Chp1 Ballyfey

Having said their farewells to Seersha and promising to return one day soon, the pair of them set off down the road.
It appeared to Ollie that Grandpa was a bit unsettled by the Wizards’ envelope but decided not mention this.

Then Grandpa spoke “You know Ollie, tea is all very well for some people, but what I really need right now is a good strong cup of coffee and I know just the place to visit.
So let’s turn left under the next archway.”

The archway led to a long,narrow cobbled path with high stonewalls on either side which in turn led onto a country lane about twice as wide as the cobbled path, so not wide at all.
On one side were stonewalls on on the other a low hedge and fields where cows were grazing. As they passed over a humped back bridge Ollie noticed an attractive thatched cottage with a garden to the front in which chairs and tables were arranged. “This must be Grandpa’s favourite place” thought Ollie.

“Here we are Ollie. Now I can sup my favourite drink and we can read the Wizards’ letter in privacy”

The sign above the door said “Welcome to Brambles” and Ollie could see the reasons why that name had been chosen;
on two sides there were bramble bushes which provided wild blackberries and if you removed the B from the name it would read ‘Rambles’. To ramble is to make a visit to your neighbour,  “at least that’s what it means in Ireland” remembered Ollie.

“You know Ollie, I think that we should have a bit of a feed while we are here, so I am going to have two rounds of toasted cheese and ham sandwiches with tomato relish and coleslaw and I will tell them not skimp the ham. Will you have the same ?”

Ollie replied that he thought he could manage sandwiches but not the relish or the coleslaw, so off went Grandpa into the cafe to place their order.

They chose a table where they could not be overheard near to a gurgling stream called ‘The Gealach River’ that ran under the bridge. Grandpa decided that they would read the wizards’ letter after the meal.

A waitress came out with Grandpa’s coffee and Ollie’s eyes opened wide. He noticed that she was wearing a broad crimson band around her neck which was so very similar to that of
Sean-Tomás. Her hair was black as was her dress and she was slender and fit with piercing dark eyes. Grandpa referred to her  as Alice but Ollie did wonder but dared not ask, if she could run very fast.

After the meal Grandpa sent Ollie into the cafe with his cup to ask for a refill of coffee. As he was there the young bard noticed that all the staff were wearing black clothes and that they were very quiet when speaking with each other.
Although not unfriendly their quietness made him think of those ladies that he saw in the circle on Gaelach Island - I wonder he thought to himself …..

When Alice brought out the coffee she asked if they had enjoyed their meal and was there anything else that they required ?
“The meal was wonderful thank you Alice and oh have you met my
Grandson Ollie ?” said Grandpa
“Hello Ollie are you keeping your Grandpa out of mischief ?” she said with a big smile.

Ollie gave her a big grin and said nothing.

After she had gone Grandpa removed the wizards’ letter and read it, saying in a quiet voice to himself,

“Goddess save me from Wizards!
Oh here we go, yet another rhyming riddle”

He asked the young bard if he could help then read the riddle
out.

“ 1.To the county of The TRIBES you must go
where stone walls glow.
2.Over a bridge that is not always so.
3.Where the drink is rich and red
warms you up, goes to your head,
3a.The 2nd syllable is
a short querulous exclamation!
3b.The 3rd syllable is
almost a No!
4.Then into a wood where deer graze,
there you begin the final phase.”

“Well” said Grandpa Druid “Do you have any ideas Bard Ollie ?”

So the pair sat and discussed the clues and this is what
they came up with:
No 1 is Galway because the city is known as The CITY OF TRIBES.
No.2. Ollie thought this was a swing or lift bridge.
No.3 “The potent drink must be PORT” said Grandpa who had experience of drinking it many years ago.
3a. “Um” said Ollie’
“ Quite right UM it is” said Grandpa,
3b. “Slang for no is Na” said Ollie.
“Correct” said Grandpa “which gives us PORTUMNA”
   4. “Where deer graze… I know exactly where that is!
PORTUMNA FOREST PARK” said Grandpa.
“Now you wait here while I nip in and pay for our meal.”
The druid came out of Brambles with the greatest of grins on his face that Ollie had ever seen.

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