Into the West
Well, I’m happy to report, we arrived safe and sound onto the ould sod after a sleepless but uneventful night and flight crossing the Pond. We picked up our rent car in Dublin, packed it like a sardine can with our bags and made the journey westward, to Galway.
Being back here, smelling the sea, hearing the gulls’ cries, feeling the cool, salty air on my face, has brought memories tumbling back to the fore of the many happy times spent here with my family. Especially Ooma. We brought her with us three times and she loved Ireland. Especially Harp Beer. Once, when we'd brought her, she was "off her feed," meaning nothing she ate agreed with her, so she pretty much limited her intake to Harp Beer as beer was never known to disagree with her. When we got home, she'd lost three pounds and forever after referred to it as her "Harp Diet." Oh, Ooma...
Our history with Ireland started many years ago when Allen brought me here to buy our wedding rings. On that first trip, by utter happenstance, we met a couple that, in hindsight, was one of those occassions you can think back to and know the course of your life was changed forever.
The lady, Celine Hession, is a national treasure. She’s been dancing since she was a tiny girl and is like an Irish Mick Jagger. She’s a rock star! Everyone knows her and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say she’s taught most of Ireland to dance. On the evening we met, she told us about Riverdance and insisted we buy the VHS tape before we left, which we did. She said, "It's going to take the world by storm!" She wasn't kidding. My boys watched that tape on repeat for months.
Because of her, Obie learned to play the bagpipes. Because of her, Kincaid became a dancer. As a college student, he studied abroad here in Galway, lived in her home for two years and officially became one of her dancing students and a part of her legendary school. Two of her own daughters were in Riverdance and have been in our home many times as have Celine and her husband, Alban Carney.
Yesterday, Allen had quite an adventure when he went down the road to get what he needed for breakfast. He came back saying a homeless woman, head wrapped in a pink scarf, babushka style, suddenly came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his middle and said, "I love you!" He just laughed and extracted himself and proceeded on to the little market and bought three tomatoes. She was waiting outside and asked him for "a toe-mah-to." He said, "NO!"
Today, he saw her down there again so he stayed on the other side of the street but she saw him, came running across to him on the diagonal yelling, "My love! My love!" Allen took off running! 🏃🏽 Can't you just see him fleeing a mad Irish "woman in pink?"
She followed him into the Centra where Allen told the cashier, "She's crazy!" The store employee stopped her but the poor lady brandished her wedding ring and said, "he's my husband!" Unaccustomed to this sort of thing, Allen was appalled. I died laughing! I only wish I had Ooma to tell this story to. She'd have LOVED it.
I have such jet lag, or is it exhaustion? I’ve hardly been able to keep my head above the horizon line and have done my fair share of napping all week, even after a decent night's sleep. We all feel the same. I’m so tired, I think it’s has to be a reflection of the year we've lived through. Thank goodness we came a week early so Arden and I could acclimate. We’d have surely struggled, otherwise.
Therefore, I'm glad all we have to do today is market for lamb. Yes, we have a pre-Ballymaloe cooking assignment. Celine bought herself a tajine some time ago, wanting to have lamb cooked in it but had yet to make it. The night we arrived, she told us all about it and then nominated Arden and me to find a recipe and do the cooking. Just the sort of thing we love to do. It should be a fun evening!