I was talking to the Trinity College professor after the result of the golf club's EGM had been made public. Handsome incentives had been offered to club members by a local property tycoon who wanted to 'redevelop' the golf course. He had offered cash, land and promised many new jobs for the community.
The motion had been rejected and the green lobby were jubilant. The professor was telling me about the unique wildlife that had been saved as a result of the decision.
"But wasn't that an awful lot of money to reject to protect some plants?" I asked.
"What you don't realise, my boy, is that this particular type of . . ."
BANG! A shot rang out. The professor clasped his hands to his chest before falling to the floor, his white shirt now bathed in red. I was stunned. It had happened right in front of me and yet I hadn't really seen a thing.
The hotel lobby was packed and shocked onlookers watched as the golf club professional, Jeremy Irons, and club captain, Colonel Bogie, leapt forward and covered the body with an overcoat. My wife rushed over to quiz me on what I had seen.
It was our first murder mystery weekend at Renvyle House Hotel in Connemara. The weekend was a present from my brother and everyone in the hotel was captivated.
"Shocking business," said a Scot bedecked in tartan. "I only came here to play golf," he said disaffectedly, but the way he fidgeted with his sporran suggested otherwise.
Was he a professional actor, hired to play a role in this murder mystery – or was he simply a golf-mad guest?
Six of us banded together to solve the mystery. There was much gnawing of pencil tops and our notebooks were jammed with scraps of seemingly useless information. Over the weekend a series of clues to the killer's identity were pasted up on a noticeboard. On the final evening, the last two clues were put up. The first had a single word with a blank space in front: ––––––– Impossible. Now even I knew that one. But what did it mean?
Then the organisers wrote up the final clue: 9''' 6' 3'' 7''' 3'' 5'.
Perhaps it was a phone number? I made a note to ring it from my room.
Warming herself near the fire sat an elderly nun, decked out in a very old-fashioned habit, traditional wimple, with a white vinyl neck collar.
"I saw her reading the Irish Independent earlier," said one observant member of our detective sextet. "It's past 11. Isn't it a bit late for her to be up? I bet she has something to do with it. Nuns . . . missions, and so on."
Six sets of eyes peered in her direction. I was selected to approach her to discern her involvement.
"Good evening sister, enjoying the fire?" I volunteered meekly. "Oh yes."
"And are you enjoying this evening's entertainment?"
"You're not involved in this murder?"
"Oh NO. NO. NO. I'd never be involved in anything like that," she said horrified, all signs of frailty now gone. "I'm on my holidays," she barked, heading to her room.
The following morning the aspiring Poirots and Marples gathered for the grand unveiling of the murderer.
"Method, opportunity and motive are the key," said our host, the now very much alive Trinity College professor, wearing a freshly-pressed crisp white shirt.
Members of the audience shouted "yes" or "got it" as each of the clues was unveiled. Our nun-hounding group remained silent.
"So we've established that Jeremy Irons was the murderer," the professor continued. "And now to the final two clues.
"––––––– Impossible. As you all probably guessed the blank stands for Mission and the actor Jeremy Irons starred in a film called The Mission.
'Finally to the apparent numerical sequence," the professor said. "Some people thought this was a telephone number!" the professor exclaimed to laughter.
"But if you tap out the numbers on a mobile phone as if you were sending a text message, the letters spell the word 'Jeremy' backwards."
More 'yesses' followed and the presentations were made to the winning team. It was a great weekend but we had not even got close.
If the good sister is reading the paper today I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies for any distress caused.
And as for our team of detectives?
I can only say that we were a load of old 4'' 7'''' 4''' 2'' 2'' 8'' 7'''.
Need to know
Murder mystery weekends and where to find them:
* The next murder mystery weekend at Renvyle House Hotel, Connemara, Co Galway, takes place on November 22/23. Two nights B&B and one dinner costs €185pps. Tel: 095 46100.
* The Foxford Lodge, Foxford, Co Mayo (Tel: 094 925 7777, www.thefoxfordlodge.ie) runs murder mystery weekends every weekend. Two nights B&B, one dinner and supper buffet is €159pps.
* Otherwise contact the Usual Suspects (John Forde, Tel: 086 260 2953) or Murder Mystery Ireland (Olivia Byrne, Tel: 094 904 4007 and www.murder mysteryireland.com).