When I was married I visited Ireland in October 1988. Myself, my now ex-wife Maggie and Jett, who was then four months old. We stayed at the 200 year-old home/farm of Chris Ryan in the town of Knocklong in County Limerick. Ryan runs a fabled riding-to-hounds business out of his home. Several horses and something like 40 black-and-tans reside in the rear stables and kennels. I felt safe at home, nourished. I wanted to hang around for months.
So don’t tell me about St. Paddy’s Day and what it really means or feels like to be Irish. Because I’ve been to the heart of it, and it hasn’t left me.
My first thought when I arrived in Ireland was “I could die here.” That country is about kindness, warmth and tranquility, and exhilarating gradations of green and brown flora. Every small Irish village has a tavern (the cliche is true), and the locals will often raise a glass, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Those of Irish descent (real or imagined) who live in New York City are notorious on this day, of course, for gettng stinko, stumbling around and retching on the sidewalk. But they don’t get it, and most of them probably never will.
Incidentally: There’s a limited edition book about the Ryan family tradition, written by Michael MacEwan, called “The Ryan Family and the Scarteen Hounds.