Friday, January 27, 2017


The town of Clonakilty, in County Clare, Ireland, is famous for its black pudding and for being the home of Michael Collins. But one of the most interesting stories about Clonakilty has nothing to do with revolutionary struggle or questionable meat products.

The hero of this story is a monkey named Tojo. He arrived in Clon aboard the Taint-a-Bird, a US warplane that made an emergency landing in 1943. The plane and had first flown to South America, where its crew picked up the monkey in Brazil, named him after the Japanese emperor, and took him along as a mascot. They also took along 36 bottles of rum. On its flight to from Morocco to Europe, the Taint-a-Bird blew off course and began to run out of fuel. Thinking that they were flying over Nazi-occupied Norway, the crew prepared for the worst and made an emergency landing. Instead of enemy forces, they found curious and friendly locals speaking English (though who knows if they could understand it under that heavy West Cork accent).

The crew was the toast of the town and the reason for a three-day party. They got plenty of attention from the local ladies and had way more fun than they could have every found in Nazi Norway. The only dark spot in the celebration was the passing of little Tojo. Whether he caught pneumonia or altitude sickness or alcohol poisoning from all that rum, we may never know. But his death did not go unrecognized. Tojo was laid out in a state and buried behind O'Donovan's Hotel with full military honors. And what would you do at an Irish wake for a dead Brazilian monkey? Raise a glass, I suppose.

Today, a statue of Tojo marks the place where we is buried behind O'Donovan's Hotel. And his fame carries on now that a local beer is named after him. Fittingly, it's an American pale ale.

With Tojo's statue

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.