There are no bank machines on Tory Island. There are no cows, sheep, video stores, laundrys, or boats really. There is one pub that opens at half eight. There is one store that is open sporatically throughout the day. In winter, there is one room in town to rent (the one I am in).
I'm not sure what people do here. There are jobs at the pier, but only the ferry comes and only five times pre week. It comes, is unloaded, and is gone in the space of 30 minutes. I'm sure two or three people run the lighthouse, and two or three more run the store and the pub - but there are 300 or so people who live her rear round. What do they do? Fish?
I walked all the way around the island today: no boats. At three miles wide and 1/2 mile wide, I covered the whole thing in just three hours. There is no farming, no auto repair. They must rely on the tourist season.
Rumor has it that in the winter the whole town goes to the pub. Unfortunately, I couldn't go tonight. The room (and two meals) is costing me €38. That, added to a €22 return ferry ticket exactly exhausts the cash I have here. Well, all but about c.84 - not enough for coffee.
Having been wet outside and cold inside, my house hosts keep a closed door between me and them with the strict exception of when they are serving me food. So with no hope for conversation there, and not a Euro to spare, I rallied my spirits to brave the unrelenting rain for a midnight walk.
Outside I went where I quickly realized that the sogginess of the ground would make my walk a bit more of a trudge, and clouds that seemed a mile thick dashed my hopes for moonlight. In fact, as I truged away from the town, headed for the pier on the SE point of the island, the only lights to be seen were the far-off lights of Northern Ireland (accross three miles of water) and the relaxed, rythmic flash of the lighthouse on the other end of the island.
Upon reaching the pier, I was thourally soaked, but oddly warm. I stood watching the tide come in. Somehow the vast blackness of the water seemed very inviting like the emergency exit lever in the back of an airplane when your bladder is about to burst waiting in the que for the toilet.
As I was starting to seriously consider whether I could survive a cliff dive and a three mile swim, I snapped out of my transe and I started to trudge back to town. The night had become foggy and I was now walking toward the lighthouse. It began to facinate me. First off, because of the fog I could see its beam for the entirety of its slow circle. Oddly, I write 'slow.' I suppose it did seem slow for its entire revolution except the instant it shone on me. Then it seemed to fly by extreemly fast. Staring at the liight, my mind began to wander and I soon found myself making light saber noises whenever the beam passed me. The notion that the lighthouse and I were engaged in combat prevaded my thoughts.
It seemed we were each showing our stuff in an effort to intimidate the other. Hand signals changed to strange faces which evolved into full-body flailing in an effort not to be outdone by my rotating opponent.
As I was jumping about, I noticed another light - this one behind me. Another lighthouse come to join the frey? Had my opponent called for backup? I was ready for anything. I was jsut about to launch a sneak attack on this newcomer light when a thick Irish accent called out asking if I needed ride. I sheepishly ceased my attack preparations and thanks the driver for his kindness but declined. The bewildered driver nodded, rolled up his window and drove on.
Back in my head, I declared victory as the other lights ran away down the road in front of me. Like a combatant in a dojo, I bowed to my enemy and truged back into town. I'm not sure, but I think I may have gotten a taste of what people do here.