So our trip to Ireland was never meant to be a tour of the whole country, all touristy stops included. We decided to spend the weekend with my friend, her husband and four daughters. Four Irish kids for 5 days was surely going to be adventure enough and so far, a bit into our third day, we have not been let down.
With a line-up of four children around (who I’ll get into later this weekend), you can probably tell that I haven’t even had time to hunt for leprechaun or gingers, that’s how busy I’ve been. Well, actually, we walked the kids to school yesterday and there were so many gingers racing around me on the school grounds that my eyes almost started bleeding and so I gave up the ginger hunting hobby, for the record.
Oh, and before I get into my little story about the people of the village, you would not believe how many opportunities a day you can find to buy potatoes on the side of the road, on the street corners and obviously in the market. Who knows why Italy and the UK even import their potatoes here. Anyway, I’ve yet to see anyone eat a potato like an apple but I’m positive they do such and so I’ll continue to keep an eye out and keep you all posted.
Now back to the people of the village. I’m not sure where to start, except to say that in my first 12 hours here I went to the church across the street for two different reasons, neither or which were Jesus, and didn’t come back disappointed either time.
First trip we went to the church to watch about 25 Irish kids dance. Apparently when you’re in country, it’s not called Irish STEP dancing, just dancing, because it’s obvious that they’re stepping. Lesson learned. Much to my delight, these kids kicked and flitted around the room for a full hour. At one point I had a moment of pure jealousy and made some sort of announcement that I would be finding myself a private dance instructor back in Stuttgart (http://www.danceirish.de/) to get me up to speed with these five to twelve-year olds. The second half of class I spent trying to find out the name of a small but plump child who had an amazing bowl haircut and opted to spend most of her dance class climbing stacks of chairs and not dancing. I kept guessing that her name was Pam or Polly but the Mr. kept guessing Agustus Gloop and we were both disappointed when we found her name was Eve or Epha. Oh, and I also announced I would like to take pictures of all the dancing wonders but I was told I’d look like a pedo and so I have no documentation of the future Irish dance team champs.
Hours later, after dinner, the kids insisted we come back to watch choir practice because tonight was not just practice, but a bit of a show and I informed them that I’ve never turned down a good gospel choir session yet and wasn’t about to start now.
They don’t know I’m a big, fat liar. They also don’t know that bringing me into a back room in an old church was potentially going to make my skin crackle and my face melt off. But I’m a good sport when it comes to children I like and so off we went.
Inside, we took seats, plopped the little kids on our laps and settled in for an epic show of true Irish culture. First up, this mousey woman instantly started strumming away and wailing out Country Rose, accompanying her on guitar being the elderly man who was surely on his way out. I was instantly confused as to why they’d be singing this song. WHERE WAS MY IRISHY FOLK MUSIC???
Next up, everyone in the choir assembled, small children in front like shining stars, and put in a fancy little rendition of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, in which a few ladies of the village really got into it and I started to tap, tap, tappity tap my foot. Next up, everyone started in with praising Jesus as their Savior and as an added bonus, whenever the kids sang the word Jesus, everyone bended at the knee, bopped up and down and really added a bit of flare to the performance. I think the Mousy lady that led the choir was behind that one and well done to her.
Just then, we switched modes and old man Blue as I started to call him, started strumming away and banging on the front of the guitar, half mumbling, somewhat slurring, sometimes shouting various Johnny Cash tunes. He was as close to real-life Blue from Old School that I’ve ever seen and I was just mesmerized.
“Is he drunk?” I asked my friend.
“Um no, I think he’s had a stroke,” which obviously I’d feel slightly bad about except I was too busy moving on to wondering what else was going to happen and who else was going to make a guest appearance.
And then it happened. Just when I thought we were going to go back to the angelic singing of the Irish children, Mousy McGee whipped out a flute (which I later found out was actually called a tin whistle, how fucking quaint) out of nowhere and started whistling out the sweet sounds of Sally Gardens and Jesus Christ, I felt like I was just walking out of a battle scene of Braveheart or maybe I was in Lord of the Rings. Who knows, and yes, I am well aware that neither of those movies were filmed in Ireland but it’s all I’ve got for now.
This was the point when I started to look around the room, trying to figure out if anyone else had an instrument or noise maker of some sorts in their bag. My eyes were as wide as I could be, which is why my friend said I could never really be Irish. They just roll with these situations and pretend nothing interesting is happening. They don’t get all Moxie-eyed about it. But this is me we’re talking about. Back to the story.
Just as the tin whistle started to die down, the door swung open again in walked one of my friend’s neighbors and oh dear god, let the rebel singing begin. Out he swung a banjo and la-de-da, the entire fifteen person audience just lit up and started slapping knees, tapping feet and really having a grand old time. To be honest, I have no idea what the hell he was singing about most of the time but there was shouting and lots of references to drinking and I can’t be sure but I think one rebel song was about an alligator. I’d be able to report back if I wasn’t so slow in translating the lack of the letter combination “th” in this country.
Honestly, if you ever want to come to Ireland, don’t do the touristy things. Stay with a family with no less than three kids. It’s brilliant.