When I was in Ireland I thought, here I am, among my people. My father’s family is Irish on his mother’s side; my roots and, apparently, some distant family, are in Cork, though I didn’t know about my kin in the motherland until after I’d returned home from my trip. Another story for another day. Anyway.
So, Ireland. Where I seemed designed to fit. Where my skin and hair drank in the relatively non-humid days and cool weather. Where I already knew about Irish tradition and wanted to see the places where those traditions were held most strongly. We traveled to the Aran Islands and listened to the locals speak Irish in the pubs. We visited very small churches (note the lack of a roof, from the traditional thatch having fallen away)
And hiked up towards Dun Aengus, an Iron Age fort and important archaeological site…
…BUT! We came up at the fort from the far side of the field it’s on and would have had to pick our way over a dreadfully uneven landscape, at the top of a cliff…
…with a wind that was blowing…I hesitate to guess the speed but it was constant and fast enough that we had to lean in to make forward progress, hair standing straight up, while my denim jacket kept catching the wind like it was a big canvas sail. At the top of a cliff.
Did I mention it started raining?
So that was the closest we got to the cliff that day and, after our (slippery, and unfortunately slow) descent, decided the best approach for the rest of the evening would be to go to a pub, get some dinner, and have a cocktail. What’s the best place in town for music, we asked, and a patron at the pub we were in directed us to Joe Watty’s…turns out said patron was the bartender on duty at Joe Watty’s that night, so it was fun to see a familiar face once we got there. So OK, great times ahead! In the Gaeltacht, the traditional repository of Irish culture, we were sure to hear some real, down-home, deedly-dee music, right?
Only the band playing that night was a country-western band. My initial thought was, “I didn’t move from Texas to fly to Ireland to hear country music,” though apparently, I was wrong because it seems that was exactly what I did. And these guys? ROCKED. I only wish I could remember what they called themselves. The lead guitar was all done on keyboard, they had boots and big hats and spurs that jingle-jangle-jingle. And let me repeat myself: they ROCKED. So while the music might not have technically been traditional, the craic was in full swing and the dancing didn’t stop, and isn’t that what a night in an Irish pub in the middle of the North Atlantic is, traditionally, all about?
Read more of Ailsa’s travel theme and the other traditions people have observed, here.