worries me," she said.
was there next evening as they drove out of town. We made due obeisance to the
Master McGrath monument on the Clonmel Road that twisted through the rocky
foothills of the Comeragh Mountains along the tumbling, trout-filled Nier
River, Rommel quiescent in the back seat with Joan. The white cottages grew
denser, became gray streets, and we were into Clonmel. I could have found the
track by following the cloth-capped, blue-suited men making purposefully in one
direction, turning at last into a narrow entry just below a pub announcing
itself in clear primary colors as The Greyhound Inn. We parked in a meadow, and
Michael went off with the dog.
track, like most other Irish ones, is small scale, functional, a little down at
heel. "There's big horse racing at Limerick tonight," Joan said,
"so there won't be many here." Indeed, the covered concrete steps that
were the central feature had maybe a couple of hundred people standing on them,
mostly men in caps with weathered faces, but there were a good many children
and one hawk-faced, aristocratic woman in a tan trouser suit.
Michael came back
after leaving Rommel in the tight security of the kennels. "What have we
got for the first?" I asked him.
yourself in for the third," he said. "It's only the ijjits bet on every
But the kennel
boys were parading their charges, and the No. 2 dog in the blue coat looked
good to me. I sneaked away to the tote for a modest bet, taking my place in the
queue at the 60 new pence window behind a lot of little boys, one or two of
whom couldn't have been seven years old. "Twice on No. 2," I whispered
professionally, sliding away with my tickets and hastening back to the stand.
"The dogs are in the traps," the rickety P. A. system wheezed. There
was the distant rattle of the electric hare; I leaned forward as it flashed by
and tripped the lock of the trap, and there was a blur of color.
The absurd thing
about greyhound racing is the actual speed at which you lose your money. Less
than 18 seconds it takes the dogs to cover 300 yards in the short races like
this one. There are probably roulette wheels that take longer than this to
decide the fate of your money. What almost makes up for the losing of it,
though, is that glorious and dynamic moment when the dogs leave the trap,
orange-, white-, red-, blue- and black-clad animals in a classic frieze.
Presumably this consolatory effect dies away after a few occasions.
smiling in a somewhat self-satisfied way, I thought, when I rejoined him. He
said, "Joan's the same. Got to have something on every race. Same result,
"Where is she
now?" I asked.
bet on the second, of course," he said. "Now give me your card." We
studied the third together. "The vet's got a dog in this one. That's Liam
O'Donnell I was telling you about, the fella that gets me the dead cows. Fenian
Venture, that's him. In trap six. Where are you going?" he said.