(I promised to tell you my “favorite Ireland story.”)
So. My mom & I arrive in Ireland on St. Patrick’s day. We are later told that St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is just “a lot of drinking and partying.”
Huh. I’m not sure if I was expecting green confetti parades on every street corner & leprechauns throwing corned beef & cabbage at our car window…regardless, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is apparently exactly like Butte (although I’ve still never spent a St. Patrick’s in Butte).
First off, my mother is driving a box of a car on the “wrong side” of the road & I am insisting she stop at every. single. cemetery. (I blame my dad for the “cemetery-tour of West Virginia” pretty much anytime we went to his home state. But, that’s another story). I am also thirteen and don’t want my picture taken (or I have a mostly-pissed-off look even when I’m having fun). So, half of our photos (physical photos, pre-digital) are cemetery photos. And some photos of various “ruins” and castles and churches and green grass. And probably some sheep in the green grass. You get the point.
On our first or second day of the Ireland cemetery/church/castle/green grass tour, we pick up a (red-headed!) hitchhiker. He is going to the next town to return some videos and promptly informs us “You should not pick up hitchhikers” (in a charming Irish accent, I’m sure). We (sort of) listen to his advice, and only pick up 2 or 3 more.
After the red-headed video kid, we see this ancient woman standing at the side of the road. We pick her up. She is stooped over in an overlarge gray peacoat & burgundy wool hat. She has deep wrinkles in her face & obvious whiskers on her chin. She sits in the backseat. She does not appear dangerous.
This old woman is holding a small box in both hands and talking to us quickly in a mix of English & Gaelic. We understand none of it. Somehow, my mother figures out where she wants to go. It is a short ride to the next town & the woman directs us to a tiny grocery store. She gets out & through gestures, communicates that she bought a shephard’s pie from this store & it is moldy. So, she is returning the moldy shephard pie (to my mom’s relief, she isn’t trying to give us the moldy pie). Before she leaves us, she blesses us in Gaelic. And we go about our way.
We have a lovely adventure in Ireland. We stay at various hostels, eat in smokey pubs (this was prior to my vegetarianism), see the play Dancing at Lughnasa in Dublin, avoid getting hit on tiny, winding roads (We really did almost get hit by a Guinness Truck), and walk in green pastures with castles in the background (NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock music plays). This is how I remember Ireland.
So. Plane ride home. Back to the torture of eighth grade. We are in the very back of the airplane. Like, there are two rows behind us & directly behind us is a wailing infant. I imagine this scene as incredibly chaotic. The doors close and everyone is seated (wailing continues). A flight attendant comes to our row & asks to look at our tickets. She smiles & says, “You have been upgraded to first class.” There is actual applause from the people around us as we pick up our carry-on luggage and march triumphantly behind the attendant.
First class is the fancy warm towels, semi-individualized meals, personal television, leg room, etc. And it is delightful. And there is no screaming infant.
My mom immediately (as she would) mentions the wrinkled Irish hitchhiking woman & the blessing.
So. She saved us from Guinness truck death, and upgraded us to first class.