Friday, June 19, 2015

Over Heard, Over Served, Over Seas...

Pictures convey only part of the experience of traveling. We live in a world full of sound.   I find the sounds of Ireland sticking with me as vivid memories. There is no documentation that does them justice. And they do not exist in a vacuum. Recording them is like trying to convey the scene with only one color of the spectrum. 
There were the bells of distant cathedrals in Dublin, the giggles of the childern at play near the ruins of Athenry Priory, the absolute silence of the country side interrupted by the staccato bleet of a sheep, the wind that blew across your face atop the Cliffs of Moher and the sound of music, everywhere there was music, from the pub, from the buskers of the street and even the buggy driver humming to his horse. But it is the sound of the Irish people, their charm and friendly nature which I will miss the most. 
We had to get out into the countryside of Connemara to really hear the musical lilt of the Irish accent. German and American accents seemed to donimate the cities.  The true Irish lilt was occasionally so thick I was not sure if it was English or Gaelic. I was surprised to find so much Gaelic still in use. Some of the Aran islands do not speak English even today. School children are sent there to emmerse themselve in the native language.  
That is the case at Ennis Oirr.  This is where we met our cart driver Michael and his horse Bob.  Michael looked 87 years old but told us he was actually only 67. He was born on this island of only 300 residence, and has lived there all his life.  His wife spoke no English and they never spoke to their children in any other language but Gaelic.  Michael was very difficult to understand and when he was not turned around talking to us he was singing and humming softly while encouraging Bob the horse to continue on.  He had great stories about the island and shared them as Bob pulled us around the narrow stone walled roads. At one point Bob farted loudly in our direction. It stopped all conversation (and breathing) for a moment. Without missing a beat Michael began to sing "The answer my friend is blowin' in the Wind" with the elevation of his unruly grey eyebrow. 
We Americans have a hard time with this combination of Gaelic writings and Irish accents.  Written Gaelic is difficult to even sound out. The name for their head councilman is pronounced "Tea Shock", but it is spelled "Taosingh" You can be looking at the word while someone is pronouncing it and still not connect the two.  During the intermission of a play we attended, a hurried bartender pointed to someone who bluted out his order, "Whiskey" the American tourist said.  The bartender handed him a glass of water. It was a show that locals attended and the Gaelic word for water is pronounced "wisky". It is an American mistake. An Irishman always orders a drink by brand name if he wants to have an adult beverage. A pint of Guinness or a spot of Jameson is the proper order never just a beer or a whiskey
My friend Harry asked directions of a man in Athelone. He prefaced his remarks by saying, "Are you local?" The man replied, "Well I'm here now." 
While I was taking a picture of Sandi a couple of Irish men stopped so as not to "photo bomb" my composition. I was not quite ready to take the picture so I waved them on. Instead of crossing and continuing on their journey they attempted to pose with Sandi for a moment, "I thought you were wantin' us to be in the picture." They said with a wink. 
An older couple got on the train with their luggage but there was no place to put their bags. In a serious lilt we heard the man say, "I guess we'll have to stick it up the other end." 
Americans stand out like... well foreigners for the most part.  Not so much "ugly Americans" just cluless.  I heard a twenty something girl at the Cliffs of Moher blurt out a little to loudly, "Oh My God, like, who owns this place?"
I was not immune from being a clueless American myself. I kept asking what day we were going to Calamari when the name of the town is Connemara. And on the train when the announcer would announce the stops he would alway say, "Thank you for traveling" and end with the name of the train company which is, "Larnrod Eireann"   To me, every time he said it I heard, "Thank you for traveling "neither Here nor There."
We attended a play/musical concert of poems for the 150 Birthday of WB Yeats. We did not like the performances that much and referred to it after that as the "Yeats Infection". 
I fell asleep in the back seat of the car driving to one of our destinations. It was beautiful rock wall fences and rolling meadows full of grazing livestock.  Harry asked me how I could sleep while seeing such beautiful scenery. I said without thinking, "I was counting sheep". 
But the all time best thing I heard was from Sandi as we were walking the Cliffs of Moher.  The entire vacation was the time of our lives spent with Harry and Elizabeth Anderson. Not only is Harry one of the funniest people I have ever known, he is also my best friend.  At one point Sandi said to Harry in all seriousness, "I can laugh or I can walk but I can't do both at the same time." It was the naked truth.  There were many, many times we had to just stop walking because we all were laughing so much. 
Although we had our darts we never got to play a game at a pub.  The girls were not so much into it and believe it or not, dart boards were harder to find when distracted by a well poured pint of Smithwicks and Murphy's.  Harry and I played another game we bought at a local toy store called "story cubes".  It is a series of 9 dice with various pictures on each face.   The game involves rolling the dice and making up a story that includes the suggested actions on the dice.  We sat together at the nearest pub and played "by the pint".  I do not remember laughing that hard in a very long time, if ever.  What an experience of beauty, love and laughter. All things Irish as far as I can tell.
As you were,


1 comment:

P. Grecian said...

Oh...that is one of the sweetest tales I've read in many a day. You made me see it, Jay...every bit of it.

You made me smile, too.
A lot.

Thanks so much.