In a Word . . .

. . . Dog

Bless my sweet soul but I nearly fell out of my standing the other day when I came across this latest piece of bumpf from Fáilte Ireland about my own beloved county in Ireland's Hidden Heartlands.

"Sunrise and sunset are the two most magical times of the day, especially when you are right in the heart of Ireland. They provided the perfect book ends to nature-filled days on Watson the Adventure Dog's mini-break through Ireland's Hidden Heartlands."

Excuse me? A dog called Watson? And in Roscommon?

The only Watson we ever heard of down there was the Sherlock Holmes side-kick, Dr Watson. John H Watson, to give him his full name. (Bet you didn't know that!)

“Watson sniffs out a great mini-break in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands,” it goes. Hello! Advertising doggie holidays in the very heart of Ireland? You cannot be serious! In that most serene part of the country, some of it (Roscommon) noted for sheep (Sheep stealing, more like! Editor).

You want to bring dogs there, among all those lambs outstanding in their own field (as most Rossies are!)? On holidays? You have to be joking?

I am all for animal welfare, but such doggie holidays I never heard before.

"Watson's all-time favourite place is the great outdoors; he found plenty to uncover as he travelled the length of the majestic River Shannon from picturesque Portumna and on to the stunning rural landscapes of North Cavan."

So, the dog has been already. And, he approved! Pass the smelling salts.

The Shannon marks Roscommon’s eastern border. “Plan your own unforgettable getaway with your dog in this region full of hidden gems,” the blurb tells us.

Yes, of course, we love dogs down there. For proof, I need offer none further than that of my own late father. A Roscommon county councillor in his day, he once opposed a proposal to introduce dog licences there with the irrefutable argument that he had “five sons and a sheep dog and the sheep dog is worth the five sons put together”. Greater love than that no man hath for his dog.

But even my father would baulk at Roscommon and environs being promoted as a holiday destination for dogs (I think).

Dog, from Old English docga, but its origin remains one of the great mysteries of the English language.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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