Today is, of course, St.Patrick's day, and a day when most of the world decides they are a little bit Irish and head out to pack the pubs. In North America we have embraced this tradition with glee and many of us will head out to our favorite Irish-looking chain pub and swill cheap, green lager until we vomit. Nice. St. Patrick would be proud.
In Ireland, of course, it is a national holiday and while I'd like to tell you it is a cultural, or perhaps a religious holiday, it is, for the most part, a day spent in the pub. There is no green beer (thankfully) and very few 'cute' leprechaun-related paraphernalia hanging from the walls. I was surprised to have the day off the first year I was there, but not as surprised as when I still had to turn up for work* the next morning after drinking all day in the pubs. Well, I say morning, but there was some leeway there and our supervisor (a brilliant lad from Essex) took it easy on us (since he too was out all day at the pub). And by us, I mean all the non-Irish. He was still pretty tough on the Irish lads as I recall. But we loved him- all of us. Larger than life, he was like a character out of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, with a back-catalog of stories that would make you laugh till you cried while, at the same time, making you very, very afraid.
I have chosen to keep this blog somewhat a-personal and live through my gaming alter-ego Gankalicious though there is, of course, a great deal of me in these posts. Fortuitous Friday is where I get a bit personal, I guess, and try to simply talk about....whatever.....
I make fun of Ireland in these Friday posts but I of course, loved it, and do really miss it (except for their rugby team who I truly despise). Since leaving in 2008 I have not celebrated St. Patrick's Day. The reason for that is a personal one, and I would find it hard to explain while at the same time, I doubt you'd be very interested.
Today is different. I have managed to convince the Overseers at the Biological Weapons Division to let me leave early so I can go to my local for a cheeky afternoon pint on Paddy's Day. It's a great step forward in reconciling myself with the fact that I am no longer in a place I really loved, nor will I ever return. Oh, sure, I'll visit. I'll be able to visit friends, and to sit in those tiny little, out of the way places, untouched by crowds, that I discovered and love so much. I will once again haunt my favorite pubs, both well-known, and out of the way, and wander though some of the most magnificent, abandoned, historically important churches and ruins, that have long-been forgotten except for the archaeologically-inclined (or impaired depending on how you look at it) like myself.
I have lived in Waterford (up the Deise!), and Cork, Limerick, Athlone, and Galway, and even in Dublin (which isn't' really Irish), and a dozen place in-between. I lived, worked, married, drank (more since I married), and ate, and in between I discovered a lot about the Irish, friendship, and the country, but mostly about myself.
Today I will fight my way past green-clad Canadians pretending to be Irish, and make my way to the bar where the Irish owner (real Irish, not North American Irish) thankfully will NOT have green beer, and actually pours the best pint I have ever had outside Ireland. I shouldn't have to, but I will, explain that when you order 'A Pint' in Ireland it's understood that you mean Guinness. Older, wiser, I have also taken Friday off this time so there will be no terrible hangover (but I'll miss the greasy potato-bake cure I had that first time).
I will toast my friends who, by that time will already be pretty pissed given the time difference, and remember the wise words that one of my best friends (a Cork lad through and through) told me, over a pint of Murphy's of course, very early on in my life in Ireland:
Guinness is the greatest lie ever perpetrated on the Irish people.
Arthur Guinness, you see, was an Englishman.
Happy Paddy's Day, and Happy Friday everyone!
|The last place I lived in Ireland- a converted 19th century barn. Co. Waterford.|
|The path I walked my dog down twice a day for a over a year. Co. Cork|
|The view from my favorite spot in the entire country. I used to stop here on my way to/from work to eat my lunch and let my dog roam free. Co. Waterford.|
|My favorite sign ever! Warning: Lands Poisoned, Stray Dogs Shot. Irish hospitality at its best. Co. Cork.|
|Nothing- do you hear me Wales and Australia- beats the taste of Irish lamb. Nothing. Co. Galway.|
|Doesn't look like much, does it? Long-forgotten, this is the oldest, still-standing (mostly) church in Ireland. Circa 800 AD. Co. Waterford (of course!)|
*If you follow that link I would like to point out that She Who Will Be Named Later excavated, and cleaned that particular skelly (and many more) though others took all the credit for it! Nice work, there, darling.