Friday, March 17, 2006

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

This is me in Ireland. Literally about ten years ago. Today as I was putzing around the house after a night out with friends where I drank too much wine (yes, I know that is verboten SBD contraband, but seriously, did you think I wasn't going to drink?)-- and anyway back to putzing-- I was eating my lunch and turned the old idiot box on and what do you think I saw there? The Commitments: One of my favorite Roddy Doyle bukes turned movie. (The Snapper is really far better.)

Last time I was in Ireland, it was 1999. It's really getting time to reconcile this, but even there in '99, Dublin had changed. It struck me when watching the start of The Commitments how much that city has changed. I lived, as I've noted before, in a working class similar to the ones that Roddy Doyle describes in his books. Although I was a south-sider jackeen, so we did at least have that over the others. Nevertheless, times were very hard for many people in our little neighborhood. When I was living there the unemployment rate was 15-20% nationally. We used to tell a joke about a man drowning in the Liffey, and a man jumped in after him, pulled up and asked where his job was. When he found out, he swam back out, but let the man keep drowning. You know. So he could go and get that job. There's nothing glorious or glamorous about poverty, but I found myself a little wistful for that old Dublin. The small house and my room that was smaller than my closet is right now. The way we never really rang anyone up that lived in the neighborhood because it was "too dear." Instead we'd walk down the street, have tea and biscuits, and generally live in a nice world. Not that it was all wine and roses. You couldn't fart on Bulfin Road without the whole street knowing it. And at night when I'd come home, perhaps with a fella, I'd always see the neighbor's curtain go back to peep out at me. We'd laugh at our neighbors who every Saturday had the same things out on the line to dry: six pairs of ladies of underwear, one pair of men's boxers, and two tea towels. It never varied. And the neighborhood was rough and we had our alarm, but still got broken into twice. And sometimes in the morning I'd hear a horse clop past my window, and I'd wonder where it was really that I was living. One of the songs we'd sing was "My Heart is in Ireland" and sometimes I'd just tear up because I knew that someday that song would mean something more sad than it did at the time. I thought about the neighbor of my parents in Michigan, and how he hardly ever talked about Ireland. I didn't understand it at that time, and now I do. And for awhile I thought I'd never leave. And now I can't imagine my life if I hadn't left. And I'm both grateful for that and wistful at the same exact time.

Oh, Ireland. It's a long long way from Clare to here...


Anonymous pixi said...

My Irish grandmother used to say "the fellas" all the time. Sniff. I miss her.

Great post.

4:12 PM  
Blogger DD said...

I hope someday we will be able to visit Mr. DD's extended family and have an opportunity to do more than see these type of beautiful photos.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Career Guy said...

We still talk about our trip to Ireland in 2004 for our daughter's wedding. We'd like to go back and drive through the south this time.

I remember being charmed by everything: the pubs, the trains, the buses, the people, the buildings, the parking meters, the convenience store. Cadbury chocolate chip cookies. Can't get them here, you know.

Our daughter and her husband are staying in Dun Laoghaire with his parents. She's adapted quite well. I think you've seen her blog at She actually brought her camogie stick with her to Slovenia so she could practice. Funny kid.

Oh-sorry, this is your blog after all. I'll stop now.

9:14 PM  
Blogger fisher queen said...

Oh I loved that post. I've always wanted to go to Ireland.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

THIS post just freaked me right out!!!! Because I read it about five minutes after putting down a book I bought this afternoon, about Irish history. Not a CLUE what possessed me to buy the book... wait... maybe there's something about shamrocks and Leprechauns that I need to be doing to make this cycle a SUCCESS!!!

Ok... not.

Oh... and you are just so SCRUMPTIOUS to look at ... you are just my perfect vision of female gorgeousness.

SMOOCH! (with respect to Partner as always...)

8:18 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

We have friends here who are moving to Ireland in April. Enjoyed reading your post. I've never been!

9:07 AM  
Blogger Pamplemousse said...

Aaah, would you look at those little rosy cheeks in the fresh air there???

The horse-drawn carts are still there in Dublin, you know. I have seen them!

2:53 PM  

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