Irish Cousins

The last time I went to Ireland, I was pretty pregnant with my first child, 13 years ago. I went to Ireland to celebrate my godfather’s 50th birthday with my aunts and uncles and cousins. Highlights from Dublin were  the visits to the Abbey Theatre and the the Writer’s Museum. So awesome — a museum dedicated to the Irish writer. My husband and I had adapted a novel, “The Unsocial Socialist” by George Bernard Shaw. We loved the cafe in the museum.

I’d been to Ireland four or five times. The first time I visited Kerry and Dublin as part of a whirlwind European tour with my aunts and mom. I was 12. Then in college I went to Belfast to visit my pen pal from junior high. We went to the Giant’s Causeway, hung out in pubs, talked politics like about the Iran Contra affair.

Later that year, my boyfriend (who became my husband) and I rented a car and drove the perimeter of the island. We especially loved West Ireland and the city of Cork. I loved the singing in the pubs. It was summer, my hair was bleached blonde, dyed blue so it looked green. We had tons of sunshine (like today’s St. Patty’s Day). We swam in the cold water off of rocky beaches nearly every day!

But the highlight of all of my trips to Ireland was on that last pregant trip when I visited the ancestral home in Kinsale (?). The thatched roof home still stands — sturdy, beige, beautiful. A couple lived there with a newborn babe. The teley was on. The house looked too small to hold the brothers (and sisters?) of the Mahoney family who would immigrate to Chicago to become police officers and salesmen. The ancestral home touched me in a way that surprised me. I got choked up standing on the footpath leading to the thatched house. It might’ve been my pregnancy hormones.

But I had a sense of the new world and the old world converging in me. At that one axis. Just as Colum McCan writes about in the book “While the Great World Spins.” (We read this for book club, met last night.)

Characters drift into one another, rooted in a place,  rooted in a time. We intersect, like a man on a wire, between two world trade centers — our past, our future. We are spinning as if on a globe on some invisible axis. Caught in the here and now, infused with memories and with dreams. Caught in the present on a wire.

These are my thoughts on St. Patrick’s Day, 2010.

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2 thoughts on “Irish Cousins

  1. Great posting. I felt that same magic there. I remember standing on top of Conor Pass on the Dingle Peninsula and feeling certain I’d been there centuries before, and that I’d wind up living out my days in Ireland too. Visiting the spots where my grandparent’s homes stood in Mayo, and the church they were married in at Bohola were life affirming. I felt such gratitude for the generations that preceded me.

  2. It wasn’t Kinsale- but I too remember the visit to the Mahoney cottage. I always feel I “belong” in Ireland, and think of the courage it took our relatives to leave. Doubt that I could do it.
    I had lunch with your Aunts and Uncles at Hackney’s today. I left a little “choked” at how lucky I am to have them all in my life and I know it wasn’t any pregnancy hormones.

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