Crolly (Croithlí) is a tiny village in Co. Donegal, most famously known for “Crolly Dolls.”
In case you’re not familiar with them, Crolly Dolls were first produced in 1939, well made, dressed with locally made fabrics, and became a world-wide hit. They stopped making them in the 70’s, but resumed in the early 90’s, due to demand.
I don’t like dolls. They scare me. But I always wanted a Crolly doll. Not the kind people buy for their daughters or for nostalgic reasons. I wanted a real-life Crolly doll. I almost got one myself once.
Actually, I never came close. She could speak English of course, but spoke to me only in Irish. The problem was that my Irish was bad enough, and she spoke in an Ulster dialect which I had a hard time understanding. When I asked her if we could converse in English, she looked me in the eyes and said the only words in English I ever heard her say.
“I only speak English when I’m talking to my father’s pigs or my dogs.”
Shot down in flames. Good reason to study up on your Irish, young fellas. I still got my Crolly dolls, after a fashion, but first there was the “Troll Bitch”.
Troll dolls you may be more familiar with. Little plastic dolls with red hair (usually). When you spin them around, their hair goes fanning out wild.
My wife has long, beautiful red hair. But when she wakes in the morning, it’s spun everywhere. When we first started dating, we were partying one night in a hotel room with her friends from college. As the night wore on, they left one by one, except for her best friend and college roommate, whom I was friendly with also. When we’d all had too much to drink, my girlfriend and I went to sleep on the floor, while her friend took the bed.
We had a running joke; I would always be the first to wake, followed by my girlfriend’s friend, and then I would get into bed with her (fully clothed, no nonsense) and see how long it would take for my girlfriend to wake up.
It was usually nanoseconds, and this case was no different. She popped up at the foot of the bed, with her hair flying out in every direction, just like a troll doll. I’d never made the comparison, but her friend did.
She said “Ugh! Troll bitch?”
We all started laughing, and thus the “Troll Bitch” was born. You don’t get to choose your own nickname, and if you think “Troll Bitch” is offensive, you should hear what my friends call me.
Back to Crolly. I was house-sitting for a friend while he was away. My job was to keep up with the property and the landscaping, while my girlfriend’s was to do some light cleaning and answer the phone. One day, we hitched to Bunbeg, but couldn’t get a ride back, so we had to walk all the way home to Crolly, and we were both exhausted. Then the phone rang. My girlfriend picked up the phone, said “Hello?” and then immediately handed the phone to me. “It’s for you.”
It was the master of the house; he apologised, and told me that he’d completely forgotten that some “friends” of his were coming to visit, and asked if I would mind picking them up at the bus-stop.
I had no choice but to comply. I told my girlfriend that we would be having company. She was red-headed furious.
“I’m in no mood for this. I’m going to bed.”
So off she went, and off I went to collect our guests.
My Crolly dolls.
My irritation disappeared when I saw these friends of my friend. They weren’t from Crolly, or Ireland at all. There were five of them, four from France, and a French-Canadian from Quebec.
They were all female, and all gorgeous.
I have no idea what I said to them in greeting, because I was stricken. We went to the Spar so they could get some groceries, and then I drove them home. Sadly, there was not enough room in the car for everyone, so the girl from Quebec had to sit in my lap while I drove. She was the prettiest of the bunch, so I was not exactly heartbroken. It was a bumpy ride back.
I did my best to not make it an “uplifting” experience.
When we got home, my girlfriend was still sound asleep. Our guests all took showers while I tended to the fireplace. And so I found myself with five beautiful women, their hair still wet, sitting in the parlour. Outwardly, I was being the perfect gentleman; inwardly, I was cackling and rubbing my hands together like a villian. French is a beautiful language; English spoken with a French accent, by beautiful girls, even more appealing.
Makes you feel like James Bond.
After pleasantries, they began complaining a bit about the house being cold and the fact that the pub was closed. So I came up with an idea; something which I shouldn’t do.
“How about a hot toddy?”
“I’m sorry,” Miss Quebec said, “what is a hot toddy?”
“Whiskey and hot water.”
It was agreed by all that this was a good idea, and so I pilfered my friend’s whiskey. We all had a hot toddy. And then another. And another.
Soon, we were all laughing and carrying on.
Suddenly, the door to my bedroom flew open.
Yes. The Troll Bitch.
She took a look around the room with her Scottish death-stare, and then slammed the door shut and went back to bed.
The smart play would have been to go to bed and profusely apologise; but that would have been poor hospitality. So I stayed up for a while and chatted with my friends, who were all very afraid, as was I.
In the morning, all was forgiven; after all, I’d done nothing wrong.
But damn, I wanted to.