Love It Because It’s Different

I’d left Dublin via bus to reach the little town in Ireland with the “kicky” name of Ballylickey.  Without lodgings known, I wondered what I would find when we reached this relatively small, but fun, town.  I asked another bus rider what she would suggest.  She mentioned the name of a small hotel just this side of town.  

I took her advice, so when the driver called the name she’d mentioned, I pulled the cord to ring a bell to stop the bus, letting me off.  The owner of the small hotel greeted me at the door, with two large tan dogs at either side of her. I’m always carefully wary of strange dogs, so our conversation was carried on at a little distance.  But the price was right and the view of the hills across the road, divided by ownership or use by white fencing, was so appealing that I overlooked the dogs and registered for a week’s stay.

That week of exploring the little town about a fifteen-minute hike down the road and its nearby “interests”—playing with the now-friendly dogs, eating calorie-laden Irish meals, and hiking some open nearby hills, and taking a small boat out to an island—was completely eclipsed by the absolute fun of attending an Irish wedding.  That “fun” was actually the reception which followed the church portion of this big celebration of “tying the knot” by two popular not-so-young people.  

Dancing music performed by energetic “saw-ers” on fiddles and other stringed instruments, plus some untrained voices singing traditional Irish tunes, and the inevitable tricks already being played by some of the guests on the bridal couple, created a wedding celebration the likes of which I’d never seen. Excited dogs, priests, parents, grandparents, smiling friends, all ages of children, and a couple of other guests like me filled the small hotel’s main room.

Then the tricks began.  You need to see them yourself; I don’t want to spoil it for you.  But let me just say, it was so much fun, that I kept brushing away my tears of laughter. With the last name of Ryan, I’m allowed.

I explored this town, always treated with courtesy and helpful advice. I took a tiny boat, certain it would sink any minute, over to an island that someday will be world-famous. I did a little shopping, but none of it reached the heights of a three-foot-by-three-foot painting of an Irish sunset.  The painter’s name is Klee, but I don’t think “he’s related” to the other Klee.  Maybe he is.  One doesn’t ask.  And I had a heck of a time getting it home.  But it’s still a favorite of mine.


Angels Protect the Young and the Foolish?

One year, I had the bright idea of taking my two eight-year-old grandsons to Ireland, Scotland and England. (We all survived, despite the odds being against that!) The cousins were amiable enough and were good travelers.  Then in Ireland, I went into the shop of a line so expensive that I only had one piece of their famous dishes.

Right away, I knew I’d made a big mistake.  The first clue: there were no other children in the shop.  Other parents were smarter than this grandparent obviously was. The second clue was that the two boys suddenly appeared to have grown, not just in height, but in width.  The latter quickly became a slight problem, since the aisles were somewhat narrow.

The third clue was a combination of things:  a clerk became visibly aware of “the Matt and Zach.”  A second clerk joined in that awareness.  I was blissfully roaming through the shop, greed, jealousy, and avarice (worse greed) finding a home in my emotions, until I noticed two clerks were trailing us.

Then the ball fell.  I knew what the problem was:  my two boys.  Just their physical presence, even if they stood absolutely still with their hands in their pockets, was enough to worry clerks in this store. (I am deliberately leaving out the name of the store.  Just think of the most expensive one in which most of us dream of shopping.)

I caved first. “Boys!  I’ve seen enough wonderful things, so let’s leave now and drive on in to Dublin.”  The sighs of relief that were almost obvious told me more than loud shouts would have—that my decision was the right one. The boys, who hadn’t been even slightly interested in counter after counter of beautiful trays, bowls, glasses, dishes—ran for the car.  Yes, for the car that had been new, but now had lost one outside rearview-mirror.  I wondered if it had the same reaction when the boys approached as had the store clerks. And I didn’t blame either faction.

It’s a wonderful thing to expose children to broader fields than the ones here at home, but one should really “pick one’s fight” in choosing which field to plow.