Ireland: An Excerpt

Today I will tell you of my Irish summer. Of hills as green as forever and old men who smile with their songs and sing with their eyes. I’ve always dreamt of roaming the Irish countryside and reading James Joyce over pints of Guinness. Or dancing a reel with a freckled boy in a tweed hat. And even though I only made it to page 100 in Portrait of an Artist, and my neck muscles twitch when I sip Guinness, and even though Phil is blond and palefaced and refuses to dance in public, even though all those things, it was still just like my dreams.
We landed in Dublin (me, Phil and our friend Tiffani), hopped in our shiny rental car and drove north, feeling very grown up and amazed at the smooth roads. Our first stop was the Hill of Tara, where people have been coming for a million years to be spiritual and communal, but where we were mostly wet (it was raining) and intimidated by the bullying sheep (they were everywhere). It really did feel like we were in some Irish infomercial, what with all that soupy green rolling for miles and woolly sheep loping casually past the bathrooms. It’s amazing, really, how much Ireland lives up to its stereotypes.
And then that night, our first evening in Ireland, we stumbled into one of those moments that make you re-adjust your vision of heaven just to make room for it. We sat in the corner of a little local pub and watched with wonder as one by one, old men with mysterious black cases under their arms came through the door. They called out greetings to the bartender, who was pouring their Guinness before the door had even swung shut, and they gathered at the table right beside us, the lucky voyeurs of a secret gathering.
Finally, eyes twinkling, grinning conspiratorially, they opened all those black cases, pulled out fiddles and accordions and Irish drums, and started playing. There were six or seven of them by now and a large wobbly woman who sat in their circle and encouraged them with her smiles. They sang and they laughed and they drank gallons of Guinness, just like they’d been doing every night for fifty years and probably their fathers before them. They flirted with us from behind their guitars and white whiskers, and the old drunk man in the red sweater kept trying to buy Tiffani drinks. I’ve never felt so lucky…

Leave a Reply