The Fairytale of west Cork: ‘Dad had two obsessions. Mam and motor cars’

Family Fortunes: His beloved car was stolen but, thanks to a water diviner, he got it back

Around this time, 30 years ago, Shane MacGowan was probably putting the finishing touches to his Fairytale of New York and my parents were doing the same with their wedding plans. Setting out on what we called their "Fairytale of west Cork". A slightly tongue-in-cheek nod to their bias for optimism and appealing connections.

However, their optimism was to be severely tested. Dad has two obsessions: Mam and motor cars, although, not always in that order. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Mam realised that Dad’s car was fraught and could wreck their entire wedding plans.

Dad parked his car on Terenure Road East, beside the apartment Mam shared with her friend. In his eagerness to see Mam, Dad forgot to remove a cable from under the bonnet. Apparently, this was a good security precaution as car theft was very common in 1987. A few minutes later, the car had vanished.

When reporting the theft at the local Garda station, the sergeant on duty remarked, “You’ve been up a good few weekends recently and I did wonder how long ‘Romeo Zulu Bravo 1’ was going to survive”.


More bad news

On returning home to west Cork they discovered more bad news, the car was insured for fire only. The policy dated back to 1968 and theft insurance was considered unnecessary back then.The good news, however, was that Dad had found a water diviner who could help.

Armed with a detailed map of Dublin they headed off to meet the water diviner. At his kitchen table he marked a sheet of paper with the four coordinates, over which he held a cylindrical piece of wood which began to move. When it stopped moving, he asked to see the northwestern corner of Dublin. He then pointed to a particular road and said you’re car is here. He refused any payment and wished them good luck.

Dad immediately set off for Dublin and began searching. Locals identified the driver and confirmed RZB 1 had earlier been parked at the location indicated by the water diviner. On realising he was being followed, the thief abandoned the car and gardaí recovered it shortly afterwards.

When my parents contacted the water diviner to thank him and ask how he did it, he said, “All I do is connect people to ‘auld’ water”.

Their unusual wedding preparations are now part of the family folklore. Nevertheless, 30 years later, it’s still comforting to think that we are all connected to the rhythm of some invisible force.