Thursday, December 16, 2010

Little country, big love

The best has been saved for last. This one is about Ireland.

My companion and I almost didn’t make it. Our obstacles on the way to the airport included delayed buses, a pink and purple metro stop in the middle of nowhere, the slowest revolving door ever made, stalled conveyor belts, etc. But the struggle made me that much happier to have finally made it.

The greatest thing about Dublin is that you can walk around aimlessly and come across delicious cafes, used bookstores, old churches, rustic pubs, and Viking ruins within a few blocks of each other. We never had to take public transportation and whenever we got lost, nice Irish people helped us. They actually volunteered their help when they us with a map. You wouldn’t find that anywhere else. 

I found a café called Caffe Shannon, where there were delicious baked goods and a brochure for a production of Jane Eyre. It was fate.  Then we went to Coral Evensong at St. Patricks cathedral, which looks exactly as it did 1,000 years ago. It has so far been my favorite church in Europe. 

I found to my great disappointment that many of the things I love about Irish culture are dead, clichés, or both. When I asked where I could find Irish dancing, people told me to go to Galway. The only celtic knots I saw and the only bagpipes and accordions I heard were in the souvenir shops. I began to feel like a walking cliché. Shannon: former Irish dancer, addicted to accordions, in search of claddaugh ring, soda bread, and Irish coffee. I didn’t even both to claim my heritage, because a half-Irish-American doesn’t count. I learned that Dublin, while awesome, is not a truly Irish city. If that’s what you’re looking for, you go to Galway, Galway, Galway.

So I went to Galway….for 45 minutes. I took a bus ride (5 hours one way, 5 hours back), in which we stopped at a fairy fort, which really exists, a 3,000 year old tomb that looked like Stonehenge, and the Cliffs of Moher. We waited in Galway for those 45 minutes and went to a Christmas market, where I wanted to eat everything, and I certainly didn’t want to leave. But back to Dublin I went, and that was good, too.

I almost wish I didn’t like Ireland as much as I do, because everyone else seems to love it too. People come back glowing. But no one loves Ireland more than the Irish. My hypothesis is that, having struggled as much as they have for their country, they have to love it. They love their Guinness, their music, their tall tales (which are real). I once made a joke that I didn’t like Ireland, and it was not received well. The Irish are probably the funniest people in the world, but there are some things you just don’t joke about.

 Every time an Irishman opened his mouth, I burst out laughing. Once I cried from laughing so hard. I’ve never had my leg pulled as much as I did in those four days, to the point that I stopped believing anything anyone said.  I tried to keep up, but I fear I’ve left my wit in America I think they liked me anyway. I learned plenty of slang and my vocabulary is now more colorful than ever:

Wagon- annoying girl

Craic- fun

Lashed- drunk, like, really drunk

Hunny-bunny- term of endearment

That’s all, until next time.

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