“A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles and is there one who understands me? One in a thousand of years of the nights?”
(James Joyce -Finnegans Wake)
Ireland is a beautiful country. Its luscious green landscape can calm the troubled soul.
As an English speaker, there’s the added advantage that you’ll never struggle to communicate or make yourself understood. There’s also that lovely Irish lilt. It’s been a favorite of mine since I can remember and one I heard my grandmother use growing up. I always try to include a shan’t here and there in honor of her.
My grandmother and her sisters had left the poverty in Ireland for a better life, and while before their marriages they worked as domestic help in the home of one of the U.S.’ greatest railroad barons, that was the closest they would ever come to wealth; their lives were a struggle to get by.
When their parents, who had not come with them, fell ill, Mary, the oldest sister, returned to Ireland. In the meantime, WWI broke out, and she was unable to return to America. It was her son and family I visited.
I had not warned them I was coming, and when I arrived at the doorstep, he was not exactly sure who I was, but a little explaining convinced him, and I was welcomed into their home, where they fed me well.
One day we took a trip to see what remained of my grandmother’ s house:
The view from it was absolutely gorgeous:
Their idea of America was greatly influenced by the movies they saw, and they just assumed everyone had a gun. Now this was in 1984 when I’m sure everyone didn’t have a gun. If they were to ask me now, what would I tell them? I know what the NRA would like me to tell them – no, but if they did, everyone would be a lot safer.
They believed in spirits – no, not the Holy Spirit, formerly known as the Holy Ghost, which they no doubt did believe in. But other ones you might have read about. While on the side of the materialists without their rigid arrogance stance that everyone is in error and could see right if they’d just listen, I could understand as we drove through the mist like I understood on those windy roads in Germany’s deep forests how Grimms’ fairy tales had come to be.
They asked me what my parents’ reaction would be if I married a Protestant. Their Catholicism obviously meant a lot to them in a way that it had never or would ever for me. They took me to a place called Martyrs’ Rock where the Catholics had prayed when their religion had been forbidden under English rule.
After a few days, they drove me into the city of Sligo where I would take the train, but not before I thumbed a ride to Yeats’ grave.
I also thought to drop in and see what The Yeats Society was up to. I can only guess they didn’t know what to make of me. Very unlike Copenhagen a few weeks later where at the tourist bureau they put me on the phone with a Danish professor whose expertise was Kierkegaard and who was willing to meet up for a drink to talk about the great Dane:
All roads, and train tracks for that matter, lead to Dublin.
“riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay…”
(James Joyce – Finnegans Wake)
By all means enjoy the pubs:
Whether or not Guinness is actually the emperor of malted liquors I can only say if you do drink it, you will not forget it.
If you find a place with live music, by all means indulge. Irish music has a real soul to it. In case you doubt me:
Enjoy both the city and the country in this lovely enchanted isle.