Good Craic and Deep Soul in Ireland

Larry and I have just returned from a three-month trip to Ireland which was heavenly. This was our 7th visit to the Emerald Isle, so obviously we like it a lot.

Our longest trip in the past had been for two weeks, but this past summer we were finally in a place between commitments to jobs, kids, parents or pets to be able to sink into a long visit. We also allowed ourselves the time because we needed a substantial break from the daily raking of our hearts by the current political and social climate in the U.S.One of the many reasons why we love Ireland so much is the people we meet. Here are a few conversations we had that have been flitting through my memory since our return.

We weren’t in Dublin very long before we were asked about our crazy president. Our first day we went into my favorite craft shop and the woman analyzed Trump’s behavior like this. “He tries out something horrific, measures the reaction and then pulls back in. The damage is done or he can go farther the next time. Hitler did that, getting people used to abuse.”

That same day we stopped in Bewley’s Tea House for an early supper and were seated by an elegant woman surrounded by shopping bags having a late tea and a scone while reading. After we ordered and were resting back in our chairs, she looked up and said hello. She showed us her book, told us she had just bought it and had we read it? It was Fascism, A Warning by Madeleine Albright. No, we hadn’t read it, but here was this lovely and friendly Irish woman about our age reading it, so we got into a wonderful discussion with her about changes in Ireland and her own life, as well as Brexit and Trump. She called him a “cute hoor.” I looked it up and it is Irish slang for a charlatan who seems upstanding but never misses an opportunity to screw you over, rip you off, hide their fuck ups and blame everyone else. Corrupt and only out to bleed taxpayers and friends alike to use for their own benefit.

It was freaky and reassuring that other citizens of the world had sussed out the situation so easily and intelligently, while there was a huge portion of our own country that was still approving and imitating this destructive leader. We weren’t quite on the no-news diet yet that we were striving for, but at least we felt like we were among friends.

On our previous trips to Ireland we got the same advice from several different Irish people: Don’t do so much. Sit still. No one remembers what they did anyway. One of those sages still tends bar at Fallon’s Pub, established 1620 in Dublin. We stopped in there our first day on this visit. Walking towards the pub, we couldn’t help but notice a big, new hotel being constructed inches from Fallon’s west wall. All I could think of was my neighbor spending tens of thousands of dollars at that very moment repairing her driveway and stucco after she and her house barely survived a two-story tear down next door. Inside Fallon’s, however, all was well. Nothing seemed to have fallen off the west wall or its shelves (and they are none too wide or too carefully filled). “What about the hotel construction next door. How is that going to be for you?” we wanted to know.  “I’ll be grand,” our barkeep said with a wee, sly grin. And I bet he will, just so nothing changes.

We went to hear music in a Dublin pub one night. There had been a Gaelic football semi-finals played nearby at Croke Park and the pub got very crowded so two men asked to sit down with us at our table. Of course, we said yes and chatted with them throughout the evening. The younger man had taken his father out to the game and now brought him to the pub. He told us about his home in Malihide and that we should visit that city because it is so beautiful. They swim everyday in the ocean. Trump came up but this time our new friend said Trump was his hero. It was the day that Trump had visited London and stepped in front of the Queen. Laughing and toasting the air he said “Aye, Trump’s a legend now. He hates the royals as much as we do!” There are still a lot of old wounds and anger toward the UK by some Irish and the progress towards reconciliation that has been made over the years has now been unsettled by proposed Brexit changes and values.

Further out of Dublin, our troubles in the U.S. were not discussed as much as Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland in August. Our B&B hostess in Clifden said it plainly. “We are just not having it anymore. Everyone still has their belief and all, good people taking care of others. But no one believes the priests.”

The Irish weather was another major topic. We were asking our favorite publican, James Curran of Curran’s Pub in Dingle (4th generation owner and featured in the documentary “The Irish Pub” which we highly recommend) about whether or not to attend the Dingle Races, a four-day event held once a year. He told us, “Surely it would be of value to visit the races.”. I asked which day of the four we should go. “The dry one.”  

Finally, this last story (for now.)

We met this man while we were walking along a very rural road and stopped to admire his flowers. He came across his yard and asked us about ourselves. We got into a discussion of the meaning of family and life after he told us a poignant story about his very ill little daughter. When we parted he said goodbye and hoped he would see us again, “in this lifetime or the next.” I was so honored by the story he shared and the connection he felt we made would last. Larry said, “They let you know who they are.” Indeed.  And I hope I reciprocated.

These photos are of some of the sages we met and some of the inspiration we found to stay still.

Mab Nulty