Eleven years ago this month, I took my family to Ireland for a ten-day excursion. After only four days into the trip, we got word that Karen’s dad had passed away. We were in Galway when the news reached us, so we had to say goodbye to the Emerald Isle and return home. I always felt robbed of that experience, so I told myself I would someday revisit and complete the unfinished business.
I landed in Dublin this morning for two weeks of writing, hiking, listening and observing. I don’t know why I’m drawn to Ireland over any other country in the world. My last name has Gaelic roots according to Ancestry.com, but no one in my family identifies with the heritage. I think it’s something less cognitive and much more visceral. It’s a feeling that is evoked by music and lore, of ideal and history.
I can hear the Divine Voice in their fiddle, speaking quietly, saying it’s OK to feel joyful, while giving me just as much permission to the necessity of weeping. Music like theirs flows from centuries of life experience, not out of theory. To know Irish history is to know that it’s anything but lucky. They are a people with a past that taught them what it means to grieve, something I intimately identify with right now.
Even their most noted beer has an historic context, having been brewed for 261 years, 17 years before my country was founded. That leaves 8,739 years left on the 9,000 year lease at St James Gate. This endears me to a sense of place that is unlike my own. Nebraskans might imagine their Huskers playing football for 261 seasons, all of them with a winning record. That might get close to the devotion the Irish manifest.
I look forward to watching what unfolds in the next two weeks. I made the journey by myself because I wanted to be free to see where will the Hound will lead. Down which trails and paths will He take me? I’m eager to find out.