I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in me. But I have been married to three women who were at least half Irish, so that must say something. Not really sure what. Just my lead to a look on this St. Patrick’s Day to matters Eireann, and to say that I happen to like Ireland and the Irish a lot as silly as they have often been throughout their history.
Like the nonsensical expression: “Luck of the Irish”. Unless you are talking about abysmal luck, it doesn’t make much sense. And sometimes common sense of the Irish also seemed to be wanting.
I remember years ago reading Cecil Woodham-Smith’s riveting and tragic book The Great Hunger, about the potato famine of the 1840s in which the population of the country literally halved due to starvation and mass emigration – all those Irish cops in New York had to come from somewhere – and has yet to fully recover. Yet, during that time when the spuds were blighted the Irish refused to eat corn (maize) because they saw it as livestock fodder and, even though the place is an island, nobody fished. Hmm.
All those things said and having traveled twice in Ireland – both North and South, so I don’t show any bias – I found it to be the most charming and delightful place I have ever spent time in, and I would love to go back. It is physically beautiful and the much-vaunted ‘green’ of the landscape isn’t excelled anywhere. It has, as Yeats said, “a terrible beauty”, with the terrible part being a history of bigoted abuse, predominantly by Britain, but also certainly by the RC Church, but with a physical beauty that is difficult to describe.
And speaking of beauty, I have a special feeling of regard for Irish women who, of any age, are disarmingly attractive what with the coloring of their hair and their rosy cheeks and lucious figures – at least the ones I looked at had all those attributes and a manner of speaking with a lilting accent I found myself falling in love three or four times in any given block.
Southern Ireland, the Republic if you will, is less dominated by the church today than once it was, and that is a good thing. Divorce and birth control are now permitted and probably Playboy magazine no longer has the nude pages torn out as once it did.
I have three distinct fond memories of one trip to Ireland and they are:
– sitting in an authentic Galway pub when late in the evening a trio consisting of a toothless fiddler, a bodhran player and a comely lass with remarkable cleavage on spoons regaled all until late in the evening. I also found that night, when they called out for song suggestions that it is illegal in the ‘Republic’ of Ireland to perform a ‘Republican’ song in public. So, no We’re Off to Dublin in the Green as per my suggestion due to that “we’re off to join the IRA” reference.
– Being overtly solicited by a blousy blonde prostitute in, of all places, a Dublin bus.
Hey, I find my travelogue features where I can. Oh, and I might mention that the Ring of Kerry, the lakes of Killarney, Blarney Castle, the Glens of Antrim and the Giants’ Causeway are all pretty darn nice, too, and leave a body with less of a hangover.
As a sober person now I’d be interested to see how Ireland and I might get along these days.