Shout-Out to Fellow Travelers and Friends We Made in Ireland this Weekend (18 Sept-21 Sept)

How do you unplug? We travel. Sometimes it’s a planned and plotted out vacation, sometimes it’s spur of the moment. Last Tuesday, my husband who is enamored to the point of obsession with his roots, found great last minute airfare and hotel to Ireland. A police captain on the force for 28 years and caregiver to many, Sean finds his happy place on the Emerald Isle. Who am I to stand in his way? Like the lyrics to Eddie Money’s “(I’ve got) Two Tickets to Paradise, Pack your bags we’ll leave tonight!” we stuffed two carry-ons and left on Thursday 18 Sept spending a long-weekend in Dublin returning Tuesday, 22 Sept. Our main purpose was to attend the album launch of our friend Lughaidh “Louie” O Broin’s wife and her band The Evolution Project‘s new album, Outta the Blue at the hip Odessa in Temple Bar. (Read more about how we met Louie in “Moriartys in an Irish Bar Fight in 2012!”)
Besides cheering on these up and coming musical stars, we ended up meeting a slew of cool folks along the way. We want to shout out to those we met (and gave our card to) as we dashed through Dublin. Hello to fellow USA travelers Kathy and Rod from Seattle! Have a great next leg of your trip to South Africa! So good to meet you, Carrie and Paul from Yorkshire, England! What insightful conversation in Cassidy’s over our game of Scrabble! To John at the Abbey St. Methodist Church, we thank you for the tour and warm welcome. We were blessed to worship with your congregation representing 25 different nationalities. Sláinte, Larry and Evelyn of western Ireland! So great to chat at the album launch! Bike safe, Larry and all the best on your Master’s Evelyn! Stephen, Gary at the Padriag Pearse Pub, what good craic! We came in “just fer a pint!” but drank in so much more of Dublin’s life, vibe and culture! Hope all is well on the homefront, Stephen! Gary, did all the letters get delivered to the right addresses? LOL! Hats off to Jimmy at our last pub—Sean’s Cuban and bit o’ Jameson’s on the rocks. Sean and I hope to cross paths with each of you again, or at least keep in touch via this blog and/or our Facebook pages.,
“May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live.”

Can You Be Trusted? On Your Honor In the Ring

Can you imagine in this day of passwords, locks, and alarms to protect our most precious valuables, lifesavers (literally) like this one on the remote Ring of Kerry stay posted, unguarded? Talk about the “the honor system”! We saw a few of them on the western part of our recent trip in Ireland. They were not in plain sight, but around corners at the bottom of steep cobblestone and patch-work accesses of small beaches or old, hazardous boat launches. All the easier to snatch off the post and pop into one’s car if one was so inclined.
Yet the well-chosen, philosophical and theological one-liner, “A Stolen Ringbuoy— a Stolen Life” appealed straight to one’s conscience. Would you dare remove the buoy for any other reason than, God-forbid, its intended purpose to save someone drowning in the nearby sea? Would you dare risk eternal consequences?
I know I wouldn’t, but then I had a cynical thought. What if a person was so full of wickedness or didn’t believe in eternal consequences? What if they didn’t care about their fellow human being? Could they be so caviler to vandalize? Remove the ring and toss it into some ditch?
Then I scanned the tawny, brush-topped cliffs sloping into the foaming surf, hemmed in by the mystical turquoise sea. Behind me were the endless rolling verdant hills dotted with sheep, rocks and old church foundations. How could one not feel closer to Heaven, or at least an unwavering, deep and reverent calm? An unquestioning obedience to that sign?
Cliffs and sea on the Ring of Kerry Cliffs and sea on the Ring of Kerry

It isn’t often you witness “the honor system” today. I did notice an unmanned stand at Dublin airport that allowed you to take liter of water trusting you’d toss one euro into a box. Come to think of it, two years ago at a national campground in New Hampshire we were on our honor to deposit the right fee in the tube as we exited. What other “honor system” situations are out there? Please share.

Boo to The Who! They Blew Us Off: But We’ve Met Other Stars Along Our Way!

What happened to the fecking Who? The iconic rock band, launching their 50th Anniversary tour blew off Ireland! They were supposed to play in Belfast and last night here (26 Nov.) in Dublin, but we learned a few days ago they cancelled both shows for "logistical difficulties"! What? Apparently they had an unexpected? offer to play in Abu Dhabi on the 23rd and are claiming they couldn’t get to
Ireland? The UAE is not THAT faraway from Ireland, guys! I am thinking they got a better deal to party with the royalty and to heck with Ireland! Was there no way for them in this day and age to get back in time for “our” Nov. 26th show here in Dublin? Yes, I know this is such a first world rant but bear with me a bit.

Back in July Sean noticed The Who would be playing in Dublin at the beginning of their 50th anniversary tour in November. He asked if I wanted to go. I eagerly said yes knowing that he LOVES Ireland and The Who! Both in one place would be mind-blowing! But more that that, I was all for him going to one of his happiest of happy places—Ireland—to “get off grid” from his many stresses in the States.

We weren’t fully thinking in July that we’d be away for Thanksgiving so he bought The Who tickets that day. That kinda made us pregnant to take the trip!

I had a few misgivings about missing Thanksgiving, but also relished the idea of taking a break from 15 years in a row of hosting at our house. I’d miss our kids the most–and watching the parade in the morning, but our grown-up kids encouraged us to fly!

Even though we didn’t get to see The Who on this trip, we’ve had a great experiences already and have been privileged to meet some great people along the way–rock stars in their own right! Take a bow Brian and Helen, funky, classy hardworking hosts of the luxurious but comfortable Castlewood House B&B out in Dingle.

Thank you, thank you! to the very encouraging and hip Father David Gunn for welcoming us to your parish home at Port Magee for the tea and allowing us to pour over pages of hundred year old handwritten marriage and baptismal records as we trace more of Sean’s Irish heritage in the Ring of Kerry! We were welcomed right into the house and life “don’t mind the toys!” of a very cool cousin Sheila who introduced us to her wee ones, Shoon,3, Seamus,2. She made a phone call for Sean to see his cousins Mary and Tessie Cremens who lived up the road and across the street.

We were reunited with Tomas who spoils us at Kate Kearney’s Cottage in Killarney and now has his own photography business. It was so good to see John and Nora in at their lovely Ferris Wheel B&B at the Gap of Dunloe. We spoke at length to a very decent and bright woman at a woolen shop in Cashel— (Knitted) Hats off to Inga!

We anticipate meeting a few more “celebrities” as we spend the next few days here. Tonight, about the time you all back home will be enjoying your beautiful turkey dinners, (we’re 5 hours ahead), Sean and I will be taking a Literary Pub Crawl learning where Irish writers—Yeats, Joyce, Wilde, etc. hung out to discuss life, politics, their stories, and where they put down a few pints. Who knows who else we’ll encounter? Sean met Conan O’Brien on Grafton Street in 2012!

Happy Thanksgiving to our American family and friends. And Thank You, friends and relatives we’ve met on this trip! God Bless, Salente, Cheers!

Early Morning at Russell Pond Park in New Hampshire

Sean and I recently spent a long, wonderful weekend camping (in a tent!) at Russell Pond, part of the National Park system in the White Mountains. It was quite like the days when we first were dating, camping without kids. It was better than that now, because after nearly 25 years of marriage, we are more seasoned and much more appreciative of how far we’ve come. We purchased some cheap “floaties” and paddled out to the very middle of the pond to enjoy the wonders of nature.

Moriartys in an Irish Bar Fight!

Our second night in Dublin, the last leg of our eight day country-wide tour, Sean, Erin, Chris and I ventured into Temple Bar.  This hotspot section of the city is known for its ancient pubs, eclectic street performers and odd shops.  After dark and too much drink, it can get little wild if not a little dangerous.  It isn’t uncommon to have extra Garda (Irish police) patrolling on the weekends.  On this particular Friday night, pubs were over-flowing with Irish and German soccer fans either celebrating or drowning their sorrows.  Germany had annihilated Ireland, 6 to 1 at the World Cup Qualifier Match that day in the city.

After dinner we ventured to the very popular The Temple Bar Pub  in hopes to hear some real Irish music.  We stood shoulder to shoulder as a trio, who although Irish, were doing a few too many American covers.

Sean, blessed with the gift of gab (even before kissing the Blarney stone), struck up a conversation with an interesting 20s-something man sitting on a stool nearby. He wore faded jeans, a pin-striped button down dress shirt and wire-framed eye glasses. A pony-tail of thin, brown dreadlocks hung half way down his back.  I remember Erin and Chris commenting that he could be some kind of hybrid Rastafarian information technologist.

He asked Sean if he could please keep an eye on his woolen sweater as he went to the bar or toilet.  I urged Sean to take the seat and situated myself between his legs as we hoped to finally hear some rockin’ Irish.  When the band started playing Sweet Caroline by New York’s own Neil Diamond, I decided to wade through the crowd to find the ladies’ room.  Bumping and mushing into perfect strangers as I tried to find the loo just wasn’t as exhilarating as it was in my early twenties.

In the meantime, the guy, Louie, came back invited us to come to a nearby smaller pub where his band The Blaggards  would be playing traditional Irish music.

A little later, we found our way to The Stag’s Tail, a cellar-pub in the The Stag’s Head,  The Stag’s Tail has a rather non-descript entrance in a darkened alley.  Feeling adventurous, we headed down the stairway to a dimly lit room about the size of a city bus. The Blaggards were just setting up when Louie noticed us and greeted us warmly. We sat at a corner at a table on the perimeter of the room, against a wall.

As the traditional music played—old tunes, pipes, bodhran, and strings—we enjoyed the authentic music and special treatment.  Louie shouted out to us over his mic, dedicating tunes to “The Connecticut People.”  During one song, he pulled Erin out on the “dance floor”— a tiny space in front of the musicians– and swung her around.  Erin rose to the occasion and not only kept up with him, but she reached into her hair and pulled out her own two-year-old dreadlock she kept tucked into her curls as if to show Louie that she, too, was a kindred spirit!

As the night wore on, the little pub protruded with revelers.  A group of tanked-up German guys gathered in the middle of what had been the “dance floor.”  The air was hot and thick.  One of the musicians made a comment of how the Irish soccer team was beaten by the Germans but the ones to be angry at were, as is custom, the English.

Suddenly, two young men with their arms locked around each other’s necks came rushing right at Sean.  Our table tipped and and in a flash Sean—neck brace, mending shoulder and all— was up on his feet!  Like Popeye, he shoved those two idiots right in their chests and they sailed across the room into the browling gaggle.

“What the F…!” he shouted.

My lioness came out and I jumped up on the bench and threw my arm in front of Sean as though I could really hold him back if he was going to get into the fray.  “Hey! Cut the shit!” I screamed at the rolling mass.   Fortunately, sensible Irish and German boys quickly pulled the few guilty hot heads out of the way and defused the fight.

There was a mass exodus to the stairs.  Like a mother hen, I rounded my brood  and said, “Let’s get out of here!”

Outside, members of the band stood round us and apologized.  They were truly stunned.  We reasoned it was because of the soccer match and that it obviously wasn’t their fault.

The four of us walked down the street to collect ourselves. We stopped at a place that sold slices of pizza of all things, and had a slice as we relived the event.  “Dad can still kick ass!” Chris exclaimed.

Erin had wanted to go back and give Louie her email address (an equivalent of a phone number).  I sighed at first, but we were full of of bravado, pizza, and a bit of Guinness.  We marched back to The Stag’s Tail.  The band was milling around outside and the drummer (bodhran player) came right up to Sean and clapped him on the shoulder (luckily it was his good one!).  He was sitting closest to us in the pub and was especially impressed how Sean had tossed the drunken lads across the room.  Louie said we were legends!

To show we were good sports, and because much of the soccer madness had subsided, we did go back to The Stag’s Tail the next evening and enjoyed an uninterrupted night of traditional Irish songs and a bit of conversation with our Blaggard buds.  By the way, this group may be playing in an Irish pub in NYC this St. Patrick’s Day.  Want to go as part of their fan club?