Captain Weddall’s Bicycle: part 2

Off went Sean O’Longain down the road, with Captain Weddall looking after him, as if making sure that he was fit to cycle such fine bike. The wind was in his favour, blowing him all the way to Achill Sound, 10 Km away to catch the train, except when he got there the train had already gone.

Fazed less than he should have been, perhaps because of the captain’s shiny bicycle, at the prospect of cycling the 40 or so kilometres to Westport, where he reached before nightfall. He was greeted by his friend who told him that he was invited to give a talk at a branch of the Gaelic League at Irishtown, a further 50 km from Westport. They left the next morning arriving in time for the Gaelic League concert, which lasted into the early hours. Sean O’Longain bit farewell to his friends and set off the long and arduous journey home.

He had the company of one of his friends to Westport, which he welcomed as the night was dark and misty. All went well until a turn in the road where the two bicycles collided and the young teacher hit the stone wall. Luckily he was not injured but the captain’s bike was buckled and a peddle missing.

What a sudden change of scene and mind came upon me would be better imagined than described, I thought of the beautiful silvery, neat and glittering bike which I got from the Russian [he was English] captain two days previous and the strict obligations and conditions which he imposed upon me regarding its care and use. What a contrast! It was a different article, bent, broken and covered by the slush of the road.

He didn’t know what he was going to tell the captain. He and his companion managed to transport the wreck of a bike between somehow dragging and pulling the it along the road until they reached the train station at Claremorris. At Westport he bid farewell to his friend and made the rest of the journey to Achill alone with his thoughts. When he reached Achill Sound the last stop on the line:

On arriving at Achill Sound I took the disabled bike off the train and waited in the little village until nightfall, as I didn’t wish that anybody would notice the state of my machine. I had over ten miles to wald to my destination. I trudged along in downcast depression that weary journey, deeply absorbed in gloomy thoughts of foreboding trouble.

When he eventually arrived at his lodgings well after midnight, he slowly slunk into bed. He fell into a dreamless sleep meditating on how he would face the formidable captain having to explain the bike wreckage the next day…

Connaught Telegraph 1830-current, 19.05.1956, page 4