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May 03

2 Americans’ Ireland Experience

 

 

Gardening Jones shares some of the sights and sounds she and himself enjoyed while in Ireland.

Guinness... Every last one of them.

It was 10 years ago that himself and meself boarded a plane and flew across the pond to Ireland.

Unlike most tourists, or so they told us, we were not there to discover our family history. We are both of Irish descent though. Himself‘s mother was 100% American-Irish, and while mine was also, my Dad has some Irish blood in him as well. That pushes me over the halfway mark.

Sure we wanted to see the country, but mostly we wanted to experience it. The music. The brogues. Chowder made fresh from the day’s catch.

We also wanted to learn more of the history of the country, which much of the music is based on. So we drove not to the tourist areas so much as the smaller towns and back roads. We went to small museums and local music festivals.

We heard renowned artists like Mick Lavelle and Olcan Masterson in their own elements, in their wee hometowns you might say. Pubs with wooden floors and only a smattering of the locals, people of all generations, there to enjoy the evening.

One thing we hadn’t expected was the language barrier himself would face.

 

You see, when I was a child, my Great Grandmother from Ireland was still alive. To this day I can remember her talking different, I was enthralled by her speech. They tell me that I would talk with the same brogue she had whenever I was around her. Since she lived close by, that was fairly often. And from what I understand, the adults found it delightfully funny to hear.

I still tend to be something of a language chameleon, picking up accents unless I am careful not to, and easily understanding just about any person who speaks differently than me.

This has come in handy over the years. First when I worked with individuals with varying mental and physical challenges, and later on with older people from other countries. Rarely has there been anyone I could not understand.

But that was not the case for himself.

“Tell me when they are speaking English?” he would ask.

“They are speaking English.”

 

What made it even more interesting for us, was the way they looked at him. I may as well have been wallpaper, but everyone looked at him wherever we went. It was as if he was seen as standing out, and I wasn’t. A taxi driver told me “Until you started talking, I would have sworn you were a local.”

But it wasn’t until our last night, sitting in the airport’s pub, they we really found out what they were thinking.

Returning to our table with drinks for us, I told him how there was a gentlemen at the bar trying to guess where all the travelers were from. When he spoke to me he said

“Which county then?” 

“No, America.” says I.

“Well, you could have fooled me” says he.

 

“I wonder where he will think I am from?” responded himself to me as I conveyed what had taken place.

Now let me repeat that my husband is half Irish descent, the rest is ¼ German, and ¼ Italian.  He has ‘shoulders like an ox’ as they say in The Quiet Man, and a thick head of hair. Throughout Ireland, where they looked at him as if he didn’t belong, he wore jeans with a navy blue blazer that only accented his shoulders, and polo shirts.

So when it was time for another round, he went up to the bar.

“What part of Italy are you from?” asked the gentleman.

Actually,” himself responded, “I’m half Irish, and one quarter each German and Italian.”

“Well then,” the gentleman said, “Clearly, Italy won.”

Side Note: When we returned from the trip, I told this story during a slideshow presentation at a senior center comprised mostly of participants that were first generation American-Italians.

They broke into applause.

Please enjoy this video we made of our trip. :-)

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