English: Blarney Castle – East Wall The arch at the very top is where people lay on their back to kiss the Blarney Stone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Coachford, County Cork, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Shannon, County Clare, Ireland as the plane comes down to land at Shannon Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I visited Ireland several years ago, I went to stay with an old friend of mine, Eileen O’Connor. I had never met her husband Ralph, nor her two girls Sarah and Geraldine. My father had been in the hospital for 17 days so when he got out, I made my plans and went the following day.
I had no idea what to expect, except for the Irish music which I’ve loved all my life. After a two hour drive from the Shannon Airport, we arrived in county Cork. It was beautiful luscious scenery every where I looked. We had stopped on the way to have a cuppa tea and a biscuit, as Eileen called it. It was so nice for the two of them to come and pick me up, as Eileen doesn’t drive much any more, except to get her groceries.
Each day we would go on short outings. Ralph would sit in a cafe and read or write. We listened to classical music as that was Ralph’s music of choice and I wondered “When am I going to hear some good old Irish music?” Or “see some Irish dancing?”
It wasn’t too many days, after hours of walking and sightseeing that we chanced upon a ceili in a large park. People were dancing to some music being played by brilliant musicians and it was delightful, but being a little shy at times, I said “No” to Eileen when she wanted me to get up with her. She, however, was not to be deterred, and quickly found another partner! I noticed that she was a little stumbly on the feet, but thought perhaps it had been a while for her.
Another day we took a long drive with her sister Anne, had a picnic at the beach, and later that evening went to a pub along the roadside. The music was wonderful but the pub was crowded and there was no place to dance. All three of us felt lucky just to get a seat! How I wished I could sing or play an instrument! I would have gotten up and done a song. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming.
We actually made a trip to Blarney Castle and we climbed the 90 steps to the top, only to chicken out and not kiss the Blarney Stone. I felt a little uneasy with the climbing up and down the steps as I had noticed Eileen unsure on her feet, except when dancing! But we made it back down okay.
A few nights before I was returning home Eileen took me to a ceili in a village close to where she lived. It was so wonderful. Musicians played wonderful songs and everyone danced. You guessed it! Except me…you were right! Again I was too ambivalent and gracefully said “No” to all the wonderful people who invited me time and time again. How foolish was I! It would not be the Pauline of 2012, but what can I say, I sat and watched and admired and smiled. I did have a few glasses of wine, too! And when it was time to go home, Eileen’s face was beaming! She had had a ball!
So you see folks, we all experience missed opportunities in life and these are some of my minor ones! I am sad to say that my friend is very ill at this time, and is being looked after in a special home for the sick. I’m sure she still remembers those days of music and dance, and the visit with her Newfoundland friend!
I should mention that when my son Byron visited Ireland and got very ill, he ended up at Eileen’s house and she nursed him back to health. She even brought in a doctor to give him a needle when he was so weak and could keep no food down. He later told me that she was the nicest lady he ever met! I’m sure he meant in Ireland!
Life is so short. I know it is cliche to say this but make the most of every minute! Have a great day, friends.
English: Irish dancer Michael Flatley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)