This week Marie and I managed to fit in a road trip to West Cork just before the seemingly inevitable second Covid19 lockdown. On Wednesday we met up with our friend Ann in Quills car park and drove in convoy to the beautiful Glengarriff Woods. On the way we were stopped by two gardai, who were more interested in our new EV than our reason for crossing the county line and must have kept us talking for at least 10 minutes, forming a real queue of traffic behind us. Anyway, we eventually reached the second carpark and headed up the perimeter route taking in the Eskamucky, Woodland and Lea Meadows trails. The Eskamucky trail heads steeply up to a succession of lookouts that showcase the entirety of the ancient oak forest with the sparkling Kenmare Bay and brooding Sugar Loaf in the background.
We stopped at the second lookout and then headed on to the waterfalls at Pooleen for lunch. As we dug out our sandwiches Ann said, “Oh no, I’ve left my jacket back at the lookout”. Evidently it had been in a front pocket of her rucksack and must have fallen out. We discussed what to do and decided retracing our steps would take us almost back to the start of the walk, so we decided our best option was to complete the circuit and then go back up to the lookout. And so, we continued around the well-trodden route eventually descending through the Lea Meadows and along beside the Kerry River to the car park and the cars. At which point Ann said, “Oh no! My keys were in my jacket”. She had completely forgotten she had put the keys in the jacket pocket for safe keeping. This put a whole new complexion on the problem. She couldn’t drive home without the keys, and the keyring held all her various keys. So, Ann and I hightailed it back up the trail to the lookout as fast as we could. When we arrived, we found the key ring was on the wooden bench but there was no sign of the jacket. We were relieved at finding the keys, but we felt it was very strange. We figured a reasonable response from anyone finding the jacket would have been to take the jacket including the keys and hand them over to the gardai just outside the forest gate. But no, someone had found the jacket and realised it contained keys and decided to help themselves to the jacket and just leave the keys. Now Ann did say, the jacket was a very good one – a reasonably new blue Berghaus walking jacket and well known to be top quality and expensive. So, we were disappointed that any walkers would have made this choice.
Anyway, we walked back down and met Marie who had driven to the start of the trail and we all drove back to the main car park. As we got out of the car right next to Ann’s car, we immediately noticed a note on her driver’s window. It was written in quite neat handwriting on brown paper that was obviously a sandwich wrapper. It said, “Hi, If you have lost your Car Keys they are on the bench at the lookout with the big rock. Big bunch of keys with red key ring”. We were quiet for a moment and all at the same time we came to a common conclusion. The writer must have been the person that took the jacket and must have been parked or standing near to us at the time we first returned to our cars in order to hear Ann say, “Oh no! My keys were in my jacket”, because he or she couldn’t have known which parked car belonged to the owner of the jacket. This left us completely spooked.
So why had the person written the note at all? They would have heard us say we were going back up the hill to search for the keys and jacket. Was it a case that they realised they hadn’t just picked up a discarded jacket, rather they had stolen it? And now they could see their victim? Or that they wanted to in some way mitigate their offense by saying they didn’t steal the keys? Of course, we’ll never know.
But for us it didn’t spoil our day; nothing could do that. We had done a great 4 hour walk in beautiful weather and were exhilarated at the end of it. However, it left a really bad taste if you know the expression. Someone had done something completely out of order – they had stolen an obviously expensive jacket and had no intention of trying to return it to its owner. Further they had left keys in the wild and not made any attempt to safeguard them and again return them to their owner. In the end our faith in human nature was severely dented that day.