A Touch of the Irish
Beware! There is such a thing as magic and it lives in Ireland.
How else can you explain a country where everyone is a poet, where a kiss on the Blarney Stone can change lives and the whole country believes in leprechauns?
My love affair with Ireland began on a large birthday when my husband decided we should celebrate it in Dublin, as only the
Irish with their famous gift of the gab could brighten me up. He was absolutely spot on.
We started off our weekend of indulgence in the cellar bar of the Merrion Hotel, Dublin. Perhaps we looked lonely, just the two of us sharing a bottle of champagne at eleven o’clock in the morning. Anyway, by noon we’d grown to five, by one we’d become seven and when we finally rolled out of there in search of a splendid lunch at Cork’s famous Café Paradiso we were nine people. All instant best friends, having a whale of a time.
One of them was Louise Kennedy, who I thought was just another gorgeous Irish blonde, but was (and is) one of Ireland’s greatest tourist attractions. An established designer, she has her studio just around the corner in Merrion Square where she sells all manner of beautiful things, from gorgeous clothes to stunning crystal through to dazzling furniture. We also managed to pick up a musician (he’d been playing the piano upstairs at the hotel and somehow gravitated down to us), a famous sportsman whose name now escapes me and Patrick, a raconteur who had us in fits of laughter all afternoon. I remarked on how Ireland seemed stuffed with extraordinary people. Where were the ordinary people?
Oh, there aren’t any, they said. Even the gypsies who come round to sharpen your knives have a story to tell. Taxi drivers are, of course, famous throughout the world for their stories, but in Dublin it’s the bus drivers as well. We took a tourist coach tour around the city and learned a little history of the place and a lot more about the Irish sense of humour. Terrible jokes, great jokes, extremely politically incorrect jokes poured out of the driver’s cabin. We took the tour twice so as not to miss the best punch lines.
Am I telling you enough about this enchanted Emerald Isle to entice you to insert ‘Ireland’ in your search engine? After all, I haven’t mentioned any ‘must see’ tourist attractions.
But, for me, this eccentric part of the world is about people. Not just the Irish themselves, but whom they attract. Angela Lansbury, of “Murder She Wrote” has found that Ballycotton is the place for her. Until his untimely death a few years back, chef Keith Floyd lived in the picture postcard town of Kinsale, where all the best restaurants nudge each other in tiny, pastel coloured houses in the high street. Dingle, a bit further west was the location for that magnificent David Lean movie, “Ryan’s Daughter” and both Kevin Costner and Queen Beatrix of Holland loved the Kerry town of Sneem. And that’s just for starters.
So why aren’t we all here? It is true that it’s a bit damp and the chances of spending more than three days in Ireland without rain is virtually impossible. But, as the porter at the airport remarked, “It can’t be an Emerald Isle without a touch of nutritious mist”. The ‘nutritious mist’ was not quite hitting gale force at the time, so I didn’t correct him. Instead, I spent the rest of my time looking up possible exchanges, of which I am happy to report, there are many. Check out my favourites in ‘HOW TO LIVE THE DREAM’ or find your own little Shangri-La. It will be a delightful search.