|The girls of Ireland...we haven't aged at all!|
It is rather hard to travel through Ireland and not be overwhelmed by its history. The stone relics of once grand cathedrals and Celtic crosses, broken, yet strongly embedded in the rich earth. Remnants of age and a centuries old religious war between the Catholics and the Protestants. A fight that still flares in Northern Ireland today. Living in a country whose birth was based on freedom, it is hard for me to comprehend the anger and passion that comes with the struggle to achieve it.
Ireland truly fascinated me. And its people are among the warmest this group has met upon our travels. Sitting in an small pub outside of Innisfree on a rainy afternoon, resting from a day of shopping on quaint cobble stoned streets, an elderly gentleman in a grey tweed jacket struck up a conversation with me about dreams. I may have written about this lovely gentlemen before, but the final thing he said, haunts me to this day and bears repeating. “I retired a few years ago,” he lamented. “Now, I come down here most afternoons for a pint or two…or three, if truth be told, and dream about things that could have been.” Intrigued, and loving the way the words roll through his thick Irish brogue, I encouraged him to continue. “If you could have only one dream still come true, what would it be?”
His blue eyes twinkled, “Aye, that one is easy. I would buy a plane ticket and fly to New York City?” I was a little surprised. “Really?” He put his pint down and turned to me, “Aye. I would spend a few days in the city and then buy another ticket for a Greyhound bus that was bound for California. I would see a lot of your grand country along the way.” As I looked over at the bog burning in the stone hearth, I couldn't help but think of the irony of our conversation. “Wow”, I said to him. “I am living one of my dreams sitting here in your country.” He picked up his pint and replied…..”Then you dream too small”.
Well, I don't think I dream small at all, but I do manage to keep my dreams in the realm of possibility! His comment left me very conscious of the thin line that lays between a goal and a dream. That being said, every March, the warm memories of my realized dream of going to Ireland come rushing back to me. One especially, with a mouth watering taste that, in spite of many efforts, I have yet to duplicate.
Funny what memories we tend to keep. Of course I'll always remember the ocean view and salty winds on the Cliffs of Moher, the beauty of the Waterford Crystal factory, the endless rolling hills and stoned walls of Ireland's massive country sides. But the laughter of friends, a scone in a church basement, and a conversation in a pub on a rainy day are the memories I treasure.
And with that, I will end with a short poem that I found hanging in a pub bathroom. I scribbled it on a paper towel, that is so torn and tattered, I had to do a little research for some of its words. The author is unknown, but, it's the last line that I often use when mustering courage to face a tough opponent. Another treasured memory...
"Some Guinness was spilled on the barroom floor
when the pub was shut for the night.
Out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse
and stood in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor,
then back on his haunches he sat.
And all night long you could hear him roar,
'Bring on the goddam cat!' "