About Gary & Ro
His mother’s one true love, Gary was born and raised on a small farm in County Monaghan at the heart of rural Ireland. At once the life and soul of the party and a chronic loner, Gary adopted a one-legged chicken called Chicken and a stray sheep called Sheep as his playpals and confidantes. The three amigos passed many happy hours together sipping tea from his sister’s plastic set, frolicking in landmine-strewn fields and playing Dodge The Bullet across the northern border, until one day, in preparation for Christmas, Gary’s mother slaughtered and roasted his closest friends.
Time passed and eventually Gary learned to manage without his childhood companions. Then one day, he met Róisín and, while she was no Chicken and certainly no Sheep, he thought to himself “she’s good enough for all normal purposes.”
Three painful years later and Gary’s life-long ambition to see and photograph the world outside of Ireland’s border counties are finally being realised. Although he had to endure tears, tantrums and occasional vomiting, he is now beginning to reap the benefits of his penance. So with his robot patches lovingly ironed onto his backpack and his camera the love of his life cocooned in bubble-wrap, Gary is ready to take on the world of professional photography with a gusto he normally reserves for late-night chicken fried rice in Charlie’s Chinese Take-Away.
When asked to describe Gary, his closest friends had this to say:
“Oh yeah, Gary is great. He’s like the bicycle to my fish, the hat to my dog. I really don’t know what I’m going to do when he leaves.”
And: “Gary? Who the hell is Gary? I don’t know any Garys.”
As well as his ardent, occasionally passionate love of photography, Gary enjoys black t-shirts, grey cardigans, elephants, champagne-based cocktails, television boxsets and anything to do with technology. His aspirations include owning a red setter, becoming a full-time graphic designer and photographer and eventually severing all ties with Roisin. That said, he is willing to settle for two out of three for an easy life.
Over the course of the trip Gary will be snapping photos of anything and everything, although he is particularly excited about the Harajuku girls in Tokyo and the skyline in Hong Kong. He will also be in charge of anything technical-related, from maintaining the blog to pulling Roisin’s camera out various western and rustic-style toilets.
It is hard to say where Róisín’s love of travel came from. Some say she got it from her father, a modest keyboard player who toured with various up-and-coming bands with names such as ‘Two Cokes and a Bag of Tayto’ or even worse, ‘The Saw Doctors’, in the early 80s before packing in his plectrum and settling for a job as a window salesman to support his one-time-groupie-cum-pregnant-wife.
According to other tales however, her wanderlust comes from her mother’s side. Descendents of the sailors that came over in the Spanish Armada, the Mangan clan never really took to dry land. This was due in part to their strange feet, the second and third toe of which on either foot was webbed – the legacy of a one night stand between a teenaged sailor on his first tour of duty and a fiery, redhead with a sea shell bra, a voice of gold and a box of thingamabobs. Ridiculed by peers and lovers and plagued by stripy glove/sock hybrids, they say that Róisín sought solace in anonymity.
Other sources still say that it was her first social outing, a picnic with her twin imaginary friends Intin and Dintin that gave Róisín her first taste for adventure. Although she eventually fell prey to the twins’ malice – Intin pushed her off the swing while Dintin stole her cheese and worm sandwich – they say that this first badge of independent travel was emblazoned across her heart.
Described by her friends as “the scary glue that holds us together”, Róisín is in charge of everything except for photography and electronics – from planning the route, writing the blog and booking accommodation, to boosting Gary out of a jail in Laos following an incident involving some cocaine he swears wasn’t his and a prison marriage to a man named Hank (for protection only, of course).
Although she is excited about the trip, Róisín is apprehensive about leaving her friends at home, alone, having to fend for themselves. They too are a worried about the year to come:
“Gosh I just don’t know how I’m going to get up in the morning,” said one friend, who asked that she not be named, “Róisín usually lays my clothes out for me and packs my lunch. And that’s just one of the little things – how will I know when to break up with my boyfriend, who I should sleep with and what to eat for dinner if she isn’t there to tell me?!”
For Róisín, the expected highlights of the trip will be scooting around Northern Thailand, hob-knobbing with the locals in Indonesia, catching her first piranha in the Amazon and bouncing her way along the roads of Cambodia in the back of a pickup. She also hopes to challenge Nevis bungee jump in Queenstown to a second round, having gone down sweating and screaming during her first bout in ’08.