From left to right:
Barbara Scully: http://barbarascully.blogspot.com/
“The family you have come from isn’t as important as the family you’re going to have.”
- Ring Lardner
Eleven years ago, I looked forward to visiting Ireland not only because it was my first trip to Europe, but also because I’m half-Irish. I’ve never been quite sure which side to identify with. When it comes to food and hand gestures, I’d say I’m more Italian. But when it comes to being reserved, obsessing about weather and the mail, and fretting about being on time, I’m more Irish (or at least my family’s version of it).
(This is where I should mention that one of my relatives from the 1800s was German so I don’t know how that influenced my family. I’m sure that’s where the on-time fastidiousness came in.)
My husband and I brought our nearly one-year-old boy, and were shocked that no restaurants had highchairs. It didn’t matter because we always seemed to sit near a couple whose children were in high school or college, and they missed having babies around, and really, it was no trouble to bounce our baby on their knees while they awkwardly managed for their food to find its way into their mouths. This happened three times: twice in Dublin and once in Cork.
(By the way, when we visited London and Cambridge, England there was also a deficit of highchairs but no offers of child bouncing. I’m not judging since I’d never offer to care for a stranger’s child in a restaurant.)
When we’d visited Ireland last time, they seemed to be on the brink of change. The people were gearing for the year 2000 and the economy seemed to be turning around.
Until the recent recession, it did. Instead of Irish people coming to America, people from other countries began coming to Ireland. As a result, visiting Dublin was quite different than our last visit. Before it was only Irish faces and accents. This time Ireland resembled an American city with it’s diversity of skin hues and accents. Before it was all Irish cuisine except for the occasional restaurant (I’m partial to Mao’s). (Warning: Don’t eat at any place that promises an “American breakfast”.) This time, there were actually clusters of ethnic restaurants. And the country finally has highchairs and GOOD COFFEE!
I don’t remember gypsies last time either.
Going to all of the wedding events was the highlight and purpose of this trip. It started thirty minutes after we’d arrived at our hotel when the first breakfast began at Bewley’s Cafe. That night, the rehearsal dinner took place in at the Cellar Bar at The Merrion. The day after was the actual wedding ceremony at University Church across from St. Stephen’s Green and reception was located at the posh Powerscourt Estate House from 4:30 pm to 1:30 am. The final day of festivities was a brunch, hosted by the aunt of the bride at her home in Dundrum. Can you believe there was also a pub-crawl and golf outing that we skipped?
I’d attended only one other wedding which rivaled this one in length and joviality, and that was in Serbia nearly three years ago. The Irish certainly know how to party.
(I’ll give details as to all the fantastic food in another post.)
The following (and last) day in Dublin I met three of my lovely blogger friends. I contacted Brigid and Ann via e-mail. We’d already gone from followers of one another’s blogs to e-mail friends before the trip was planned. Brigid invited Barbara and Niamh as well, but Niamh couldn’t make it.
Brigid suggested we meet at Avoca Café: http://www.irelandguide.com/establishment/avoca_cafe.4241.html
I got there several minutes late, but didn’t recognize anyone in the café. All I had were pictures from their blogs to go by, so I wasn’t sure if their images would look the same live. My husband encouraged me to ask random sitting women. For each table he’d point to, I’d squint (not wearing my glasses) and say, “I don’t think it’s any of them.”
It turned out I was the first one there. The others arrived soon after. I had the tiniest worry that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. But, of course, we did. We discussed writing, blogging, and family. They mentioned a few recent posts of fellow bloggers, which caught me up because I didn’t have time to read many blogs during the trip. It is rare to spend a couple of hours with people who do what you do and are trying to succeed where you want to succeed and feel the frustrations you feel.
The subject of Americans’ view of Irish people came up. These women didn’t understand where the notion that Irish people are warm and fuzzy came from. (Maybe the accents?) Brigid even cited a couple of examples to prove how American people are nicer than the Irish.
I don’t know. Sitting in that café, eating scones and drinking coffee with “literary friends” as someone’s sister put it, I found these women to be warm and fun. It was no different than when I get together with my good writer friend in Cambridge.
Which parts of me are Irish? Which are Italian? Which are American? Which are from my Region? Town? Family? Which parts of me are just me?
I’ll have to travel more to find out.