Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ireland 2007 - Day 7 - Muckross

By now, Irish coffee is essential. Coffee and whiskey - they’re like peanut butter and jelly. But jelly doesn’t make me moody and introspective.

I’ve had enough Irish coffee tonight to tell you that I’m in one of those moods again where I want to be alone and pretend I’m someone that’s not me. But this time, I don’t want to get lost in a city street. I want to go to Kinsale and find a pub that none of the other tourists know about. I’ll forget who I am and I’ll get lost in the crowd of salty old Irish sailors. We’ll toast and we’ll sing and we’ll curse and we’ll yell. At one point, the crowd will quiet itself. An old man with a trim white beard and a golden tenor voice will sing a sad song about a beautiful Irish maiden who dies on her wedding day because she loves another man and was forced by her parents to marry an English landlord. Suddenly, everything in the room will disappear except for me and the old man and three drippy candles near the back left corner of the room. Later, we’ll live on his yacht together. We’ll have rosy cheeks and wear cable-knit sweaters and we’ll travel around the world searching for rare editions of leather bound books to complete our library of classic (and modern) literature. We’ll play scrabble and make important discoveries about the authorship of Homeric epics. He’ll think long division is relaxing and I’ll refuse to do the dishes.

All of this is nonsense.

It has been another long day of sightseeing and driving. We stole Grandpa from Becky this morning. She was getting ready to go shopping in Killarney, and at the last minute Aunt Mary asked Grandpa if he wanted to go to a nearby castle with our little splinter group. He joined Mary’s family and ours for the day and we were happy to have him.

We went to an old English estate near Killarney called Muckross. We parked near the main road and there were horse driven carriages available to bring us to the house and grounds. One of the drivers greeted us at our car. He had an incredibly thick accent and, when he tried to tell us how much the ride would cost, none of us could understand him…it really is amazing how the phrase “forty euros” can sound VERY rude….I didn’t know the “r” sound was ever articulated on the soft pallet with a “k” sound. My dad and Grandpa couldn’t stop laughing and later Grandpa Bob retold the story over and over.

Muckross wasn’t all that wonderful. We did get to see some of their living history farms and taste some soda bread that had been baked over an open fire. That was pretty great. OH! But one fantastic thing did happen. My Aunt Mary and cousin Hannah were walking along a garden path when all of the sudden they heard a very annoying, very familiar sound:

“Cackle, cackle! Cackle, snort!”

Yes, two days later the Annoying Lady from the tour in Kinsale had somehow found her way into our lives again. Mary and Hannah came to find me and my sister to point out the annoying lady to us and we couldn’t believe it. It was definitely her. She was standing near a small white tour bus with the rest of her group. I couldn’t help but feel some empathy for those unsuspecting co-travelers of hers.

From Muckross, we drove back to the hotel in Bunratty where we’d started out. Most of the group is heading out in the morning to fly back to the US, so we celebrated the last night of togetherness with dinner in the hotel restaurant. After tonight, the only family members left will be our family and my Aunt Mary’s family, so seven of us all together.

In the hotel bar after dinner, we stood around talking and drinking. Somehow, a man at the bar started singing a song to me. I’m not sure why he started singing, or how we became acquainted, but he sang a very moving song telling you to love your mother because someday she’ll die. Touching. So I sang him a song that I sang at my grandmother’s funeral. This spiraled us into a sort of a sing off that lasted for about two hours and ultimately culminated in the Hotel lobby with seven drunk Irish men telling me that I’m the next American Idol. Uh huh.

After some awkward moments including my cousin Sarah needing to escape from the advances of one of those men, we went to bed very tired and very hoarse.

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