The fifth member of our traveling group was the small silent type, riding around in our pockets or purses. We pulled the little guy out for photo ops whenever we remembered him.
And he always smiled.
The shot glass bearing Dwight’s likeness was our 3D version of Flat Stanley. We perched him on shelves in interesting pubs, on the stage before the music started at The Arlington, and even in the women’s restroom at The Poor Relation, because the paint was so pretty in there.
In Cork at Canty’s, Dwight handed the little guy to the young barkeep, asking permission to take a photo of the two of them. The good-natured worker turned the small cup in his hands, his eyebrows coming together.
“May I ask the context?” he said, his happy brogue pairing well with the endless cheer we saw in him—and in employees like him all over Ireland, even though they never got tips.
Dwight told him about the shot glass’s humble beginnings as a keepsake from a birthday and about the little guy’s reality now as a world traveler. The bartender posed with the memento, and click! One more for the photo album.
But the pubs weren’t all about the photo shoots. The music lured us in and held us tight. Most places either hosted musicians or played recorded music, but not The Rob Roy the night we showed up. The young and old patrons brought the music, crooning the old songs of Ireland like a family celebrating life—and each other.
A folk ballad about the Great Irish famine drifted through the gathering.
“What’s the name of that one?” I asked a nearby singer.
His eyes smiled along with the words. “It’s ‘Fields of Athenry.’”
Dwight, Murphy, Husband, and I settled back in our booth in the corner as the next song floated to us.
Goodbye, my Boston beauty. Farewell, my Boston rose
I wish that you were here, but I know that’s the way life goes…
We drove the last stretches of highway from Athlone back to Dublin and into our final day in Ireland. Free of the rental car, we walked to Trinity College to view the spot where medieval art meets inspired Word in the ancient Book of Kells. We wended our way through the Temple Bar area and past a castle and cathedrals. The Hop On Hop Off bus tour of the city spared our feet for a couple of hours, but we still logged over twelve-thousand steps in the city of Samuel Beckett and James Joyce.
That evening after dinner and music at The Arlington, we strolled by the River Liffey, multicolored lights reflecting off her waters. Our cell phone cameras tried to steal the beauty of the scene, but they couldn’t take it all in. And at the river on that March night, the Irish air didn’t chill me anymore.
My heart was too warm to let it.
*The following are some places we recommend:
The Old Oak, Gallagher’s Gastro Pub, The Poor Relation Grocery and Pub, The Rob Roy, Canty’s Bar, Scuuzi, The Oliver Plunkett, Corner Inn, Café Velo, Durty Nelly’s, King’s Head, Auld Shebeen, Top Deck, Carey’s Tavern, Sean’s Bar, Di Bella Italian, Lanigan’s Pub, The Arlington, King John’s Castle, Cork Butter Museum, Blarney Castle, Blarney Woollen Mills, Kilbeggan Distillery, Trinity College (The Book of Kells.)
*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date
*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.