We were wondering where to go fishing one day, there was so much choice. It was all new and not knowing where the best places were, we just drove around from place to place getting lost, driving up lanes which petered out into tracks and ending up in farmyards much to the amusement of the farmer or invariably his family. This particular day we decided to fish the River Erne down towards the border near Foalies Bridge or Foley’s Bridge depending on which map you were reading.
A mile or so after the creamery at Belturbet, so the map said, was a turn off to the right which would take us down to the river. Obediently turning right we followed a narrow lane which gradually got narrower. The wild rose bushes sent out thick tendrils whose thorns scratched thin white stripes along the side of my little yellow Triumph Dolomite. I carefully negotiated the narrow lane and suddenly as I turned round a blind bend we encountered a herd of cows coming in the opposite direction. This was not unusual, it had happened several times before. There was a stand off for about 5 minutes between me and the cows until the cows decided to break through a hedge and into a field.
Eventually we reached the inevitable dead end and a small cottage in a clearing. A tiny scribbled sign said, “Clancy’s Farm”. At least it was something, most Irish farms in those days had nothing.
I looked at my mate Ado in the passenger seat and he looked at me with a “We’ve been in this situation before” picture on his face. As usual we decided to get out and ask, as we had done so many times before. Just as Ado was opening the door a massive grey and brown blur hit the car door with a thud. Ado quickly pulled the door shut, shouted “Jesus Christ, look at this big bugger!” We both just sat there while this massive Irish Wolfhound, tail wagging in gigantic irregular swirls, tried in vain to scratch his way into the car via the passenger window. Ado was both alarmed and amused as the huge dog looked down it’s long nose at him from outside the car. We presumed it was just trying to be friendly? I didn’t think they made dogs that big!
Eventually a small wiry bloke came alongside shouting “Down yer fecken” and “Gair, gair” or something. He gestured to Ado to wind the window down. Ado just sat there looking at Mr Clancy through the glass with a “Are you kidding or what?” look on his face. If he thought we were getting out of the car with that great big hairy lump of meat bouncing uncontrollably about, he was mistaken. After about fifteen minutes of shouting at each other through the glass, Clancy’s mad dog got bored and gallumphed off to find something else stupid to do. Eventually after a good look a round to make sure the hound had really gone, Ado wound the window down. We learnt, not much to our surprise, that we had come up the wrong road and if we went back the way we had come, turned sharp right after about a mile, we’d be back on the right road. We already knew that but Clancy’s dog had slowed our progress down to a total standstill.
We thanked Mr Clancy, who doffed his cap and waved his finger in the general direction of the lane. Well we had already worked that one out surprisingly enough, as there was the one road into the farm and the same road back out again! As soon as I started the engine, this enormous grey and brown hairball crashed through the bushes and launched itself at the car again. Through the closed window we could hear the muffled shouts of “Gerraway yer fecken” and “Gair, gair”, and from the dog would come a playful “Grrr” every now and then, followed by a “mmmMMPH” as it collided yet again with the car. Clancy’s dog definitely had the edge, being taller than his owner. The main thing I could hear was the high pitched screech of topcoat being scratched down to the primer by Clancy’s dog’s enormous claws. What with the rose thorns and the dog’s claws, there was going to be nothing left of my paintwork at this rate.
Eventually I turned the car around and set off down the narrow track. I looked in my mirror and the giant hairball was loping after us at a slow pace. As I accelerated so did Clancy’s dog. When it broke into a gallop it seemed to lose all control over its legs, but the length of its legs made it easy for it to keep up with us. I could not drive too fast because of the potholes and the brambles scratching at my paintwork. Mind you, after the mosaic pattern Clancy’s dog had etched on the passenger door, this was nowt!
As the track turned gradually back into a lane I speeded up a bit. Looking in the mirror the dog appeared to have gone. That was a relief. All of a sudden Ado shouted out, “Its back, it’s here again”! Level with Ado’s passenger window, galloping alongside us barking and slavering all over the window was that mad hairy monster. I was going about 20 mph, which is fast enough on a potholed narrow lane but the dog was having no trouble whatsoever keeping up. Eventually for the second time I lost it, I just glanced in my mirror as it crashed through the hedgerow into a field. We both settled back and had a good laugh about it.
When we reached the end of Clancy’s lane I swung the car around to the right with a full lock on. We drove up the road then after about 200 yards, just as we were relaxing a bit and laughing again, out from the hazel bushes came this huge hairy projectile. Clancy’s flipping dog, this uncontrolled canine missile had launched itself, right into the middle of the lane directly in front of us just missing my wing. I very nearly required a fresh pair of trousers as I stood on the brakes, just missing this mentally deranged hairy hound by the width of one of it’s whiskers. It overtook us then alternated in front of us, from one side of the car to the other at speed. As far as Clancy’s dog was concerned, this was an infinitely more exciting game than fetching sticks.
I was certain I was going to run over it. It must have raced with us the best part of three miles. It was a unanimous and unsurprising decision that both Ado and myself decided we would not go up Clancy’s lane again. When we eventually reached Foalies Bridge, our original destination, I surveyed the passenger side for damage. There was nothing I could have done about it. The window was splashed with mud and dog saliva and the door was newly decorated with a vertical and horizontal pinstripe pattern, like a yellow and white tartan, garnished with mud and the inevitable cow muck. If I ever see Clancy’s bloody dog again I’ll…well I don’t what I’ll do!