A Fuggin' Bollocks of a Country

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Jun 9th, 2009, 03:06 PM
  #1
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A Fuggin' Bollocks of a Country

What follows is an absolutely true account of our one afternoon and evening in Dingle Town, Republic of Ireland:

Guy walks into a pub. Before he can order his pint, the rest are ragging him unmercifully for a bet he'd made on a horse that finished last. The publican says to him, "I'd bet on a horse with arseholes for eyes before I'd bet on your boy there."

True story, and may God cut my balls off and sew them in my mouth if I'm lyin'. If you don't believe me, you can find the fool in Dingle Town at Foxy John's Hardware, which is not a hardware at all, or not much of one, but a pub. The loser's name is Chunky O'Brian, though he's not chunky at all, but smaller than his own dick. The place is named after Foxy John Monaghan. It seems that in 1890, when they were about to open for the first time, they were still without a name for the place. That very morning, at Curtin's Haberdashery directly across the lane, which is also a pub, of course, and also still pouring, Foxy John Monaghan, RIP, dropped dead before he could get his first glass to his lips, so they named it after him, or so they tell me. You can probably google it if you don't trust me. Anyway, the town has more pubs than fleas on the Queen.

The reason I was in there at all was because the wife and me happened to be strolling the streets, when she says, "Oh, look, an old hardware store", and in she goes. No sooner than she's in she's out. "It's not a hardware store at all, it's another pub", and so in I go. It is, indeed, also a hardware store, though with only a few claw hammers and things behind a counter. I'm told that when they first opened, it and the haberdashery across the lane were true retail suppliers, for farmers who on Mondays would drive their carts into town for Market Day, buy what they needed, and then have their Guinness right there. One-stop shopping.

But now I'm sitting next to Con, whose last name I never got, and immediately the two of us and others are talking about everything at once, when Con says to me, "Michael, I'm an uilleann piper (pronounced 'illan'), and a good one, and if you come to the An Conair Bar down the road tonight, I'll play you Danny Boy that will make you cry."

Now I'm thinking, I'm a tourist, and he's selling me on that old cliche of a tune. "No, no, I love that song, and It will make you cry." Now the rest of the bar are already confirming he's a master piper, and a man as pure as his music. So that night Jennifer, son Jack, and I are at the An Conair. The music has already started as locals, old and young, and musicians are drifting in. At full strength they are, I think, three fiddles, some flutes, a concertina, two guitars, a tin whistle/bones player, and, of course, Con on the pipes.

The music is as rich and real as any in Ireland. Jack, who is a true student of it all, is already transported. There is a first-time visitor from Belfast sitting in on guitar, and he sings a few solos - "Fields of Athenry" and "Galway Girl". The woman flautist plays an Appalachian tune - Scotch-Irish, of course - that Jennifer knows well. And now Con delivers his long, long solo of "Danny Boy" on that most difficult and beautiful of instruments.

As the night builds, people of all ages are on the floor, dancing the two-step. The set approaches its end, and the place will officially close soon, although anyone who wants to - and that includes Jack - will stay long into the night. But for Jennifer and me, the final number is a guitar soloist singing Louie Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World", and that's when I lose it. Con is still in his chair with his pipes in his lap, as I reach my left hand behind someone and grab his. He can see the tears running down my cheeks as he gives my hand a firm sqeeze. We don't say a word, and then we are gone.

I could never have made this up.
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Jun 9th, 2009, 03:16 PM
  #2
 
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I was brought to tears one Saturday night in Doolin by the music--maybe it was the Guinness---Hmmm, perhaps both.
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Jun 9th, 2009, 06:43 PM
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OMG you rip!! Look for a cd of a group, Tim O'Riordan and Natural Gas, The Night the Goat Broke Lose on Grand Parade, if you want a laugh. Nothing as good as Irish craiq in a pub!
Slainte!
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