It was not Mick Lawlor’s intention to die quite so soon. When James photographed him two days earlier, he had gamely invited us back the following week to join him for a tour of his neighbourhood on his pony and trap. His home lay in south County Carlow, close to the village of Borris, with excellent panoramic views of the fertile lands of Kilkenny to the north and the mountains of Wexford to the south. Scattered around the immediate vicinity of his home were various items Mick had collected along the way – a bathtub, a Belfast sink, a wooden barrel, a milk churn, a pack of loose-knit fence posts and some bails of wire, concrete blocks piled high in six deliberate columns, one forming the shape of a staircase.
His house was a bungalow, the exterior walls resembled a tiled motel bathroom, with a bright-blue double door serving as the principal entrance. The interior consisted of three rooms – one for his kitchen, one for his bedroom and one for his jennet, Pegasus, the driving force behind his trap. Alas, the jennet’s room lay empty for his beloved comrade of twenty-seven years had died three weeks earlier.
When he offered to take us out on his pony and trap, he had to scratch his head and think where he might source another pony for the occasion. There was a sad look about him that suggested jaunts around the countryside could never be the same after Pegasus. Some consolation may have come from Sheba, his seven-year-old sheepdog who literally put her hand out to introduce herself when we arrived. Mick maintained Sheba could also tell the time of day by looking at the clock on his kitchen wall.